Obama on the Record: Summit of the Americas - Page 9 of 10

Obama on the Record: Summit of the Americas

THE PRESIDENT: Okay, well, I don’t want to speculate ahead of the release of the stress test numbers. I think what you’ll see is that, not surprisingly, different banks are in different situations. They’re going to need different levels of assistance from taxpayers and, as I’ve said before, if taxpayer money is involved then I’ve got a responsibility to ensure some transparency and accountability in the operations of those businesses. We try to use as light a touch as we can, but I’m not going to simply put taxpayer money into a black hole where you’re not going to see results or some exit strategy, so that taxpayers ultimately are relieved of these burdens.

We’ve seen I think some progress in certain parts of the banking sector. As I mentioned before, I’m encouraged by the number of refinancings and mortgages that’s already taking place, but I have also said we’re not out of the woods. This is still a difficult time for the economy. Credit is still contracted. Banks still are not lending at previous levels. The non-bank sector that accounted for 40 percent of credit prior to this crisis still hasn’t recovered the way it should. And we’re still having to take a series of extraordinary steps.

So we’ll have more information as these stress test numbers are provided. I haven’t seen all of them yet. They’re being completed I think while we were on this trip. But I’m sure that we’ll have more to say about this over the next — next several days.

Okay? April. Oh, you look surprised. (Laughter.) Come on, April — I hope you’ve got a good question.

Q Okay. I have two, actually.

THE PRESIDENT: All right, well, you only get one, though. (Laughter.)

Q I’ll take that one. Mr. President, as you’re concluding your summit here and the meeting in Mexico, there is a U.S. — a U.N. conference, the world conference on racism in Geneva tomorrow. The U.S. is boycotting. And what say you about that? And is Zionism a main issue in the reason why the U.S. is boycotting the racism conference?

THE PRESIDENT: Well, let me, first of all, say that I believe in the United Nations. I believe in the possibility of the United Nations serving as an effective forum to deal with a whole host of transnational conflicts.

And so I want to be as encouraging as I can, and I’ve said that to the General Secretary.

For that reason, we’re actually — have pursued a seat on the Human Rights Commission, the U.N. Human Rights Commission, because even though up until this point we haven’t been very pleased with how it’s operated, we think that it’s worthwhile for us to go in there and try to make it into a constructive organization because of the extraordinary range of human rights violations that exist around the world. And I think America should be a leader; we can’t opt out of those discussions.