In an interview aboard Air Force One with journalists from The Economist magazine, President Obama delivered a message from 33,000 feet to the men and women at the helm of some of the nation’s top companies, “Quit complaining.”
As far as Obama is concerned, as a result of his administration’s policies, big corp has done well under his watch and he believes it is time to focus on making the lives of the middle class better.
He tells the magazine about the so-called top 1%: “They always complain about regulation. That’s their job. Let’s look at the track record. Let’s look at the facts. Since I have come into office, there’s almost no economic metric by which you couldn’t say that the U.S. economy is better and that corporate bottom lines are better. None.”
Obama believes CEOs are having it so good right now they should quit their yakking. He further tells The Economist, “If you look at what’s happened over the last four or five years, the folks who don’t have a right to complain are the folks at the top.”
The president goes on to say the big challenge facing his administration is how to preserve the incredible dynamism of the capitalist system while making sure that the distribution of wealth and incomes and goods and services in that system is broadly based, and widely spread.
Obama also tells The Economist that the super rich can, “Feel free to keep your house in the Hamptons and your corporate jet, etc. I’m not concerned about how you’re living. I am concerned about making sure that we have a system in which the ordinary person who is working hard and is being responsible can get ahead and are seeing modest improvements in their life prospects, if not for themselves, then certainly for the next generation.”
President Obama has had a complicated relationship with Wall Street since he moved into the White House. Not long into his first term, he was overhead saying, “I did not run for office to be helping out a bunch of fat cat bankers on Wall Street.”
Obama is gearing up to host more than 40 heads-of-state from Africa in the largest ever US-Africa Summit in our nation’s history. It runs from officially begins Aug. 4 to Aug. 6.
Check out the full transcript of the interview here.