Transcript: Obama's Interview With Regional Reporters - Page 12 of 15

Transcript: Obama’s Interview With Regional Reporters

are getting the message that slowly, surely we are making progress on these fronts. We released a housing plan that is providing significant relief and you’re already starting to see an uptick in refinancings that are providing families with relief. And in certain pockets of the country you’re starting to see housing prices stabilize after a long drop.

You know, I think the one area where there’s still significant uncertainty has to do with the bank issue. And that’s obviously a particular concern to Wall Street. The challenge for us there is that we are in the process of undergoing — or conducting these stress tests of the banks to get a better sense of what their capital positions are and how strong they are. And what we don’t want to do is to prejudge those tests or make a lot of statements that cause a lot of nervousness around banks that are already having difficulty right now.

So on that particular issue, you know, we’ve got to I think explain to the American people — and as I said, we can always to do better — why it is so important to get lending going again, get credit flowing to businesses and consumers. I’ll be making statements about this tomorrow, the next day, in my radio addresses, next week. And the main message that I’m going to be delivering is that it’s going to take some time to get out of this deep hole we’re in — but we’re going to get out of it.

The other message, though, is that there are no shortcuts to long-term economic growth and we can’t just keep on doing the same things that we were doing before and somehow expect that all our problems are going to be solved. We’ve got to tackle some of these things like health care, energy, and education that have been put off for too long.

Q Thank you, Mr. President. I have a question about NASA, in honor of the Discovery launch tonight. Right now, the retirement of the space shuttle in 2010 is going to devastate the Space Coast economy down in Florida. You’re looking at about 3,500 job losses, at the least, at the Center — which will multiply to as many as 28,000 jobs throughout that entire area.

Right now, you reaffirmed President Bush’s decision to retire the shuttle in 2010. I guess what I want to know is why you decided to keep that 2010 retirement date for the shuttle, and what type of plans you may have to try to save the Space Coast from an economic crater?

THE PRESIDENT: Well, first of all, we’ve authorized, and we’re budgeted for, additional shuttle launches that had not been scheduled. And so we’re extending the life of the shuttle, because, A, I think it is doing some important work; and B, we’re very mindful of the economic impact of the space program in the region.

I will soon be appointing a new NASA director. I think it’s important for the long term vibrancy of