Transcript: Obama's Interview With Regional Reporters - Page 14 of 15

Transcript: Obama’s Interview With Regional Reporters

and by the way, we don’t want to raise taxes. Well, sounds good. And I’d like to make sure that the Chicago Bulls win the championship every year and the White Sox win the series, but you know, show me how you’re going to do it.

So I’m not impressed by just being able to say no. I think what will be interesting is the degree to which my Republican colleagues start putting forward in the form of an affirmative agenda that’s not based on ideology, but on the very real struggles and pain that people are feeling right now around the country, and how do we get this economy back on its feet.

In terms of high-speed rail, I think there’s enormous opportunities here. Now, I would have loved to have seen more done on high-speed rail in the recovery package, because I think it’s the right direction for us to go in. I could not credibly claim that all of the investments that are necessary are short term enough to be in a recovery package, as opposed to be part of our broader transportation bills and budget.

But think about it. I mean, we’ve laid a transcontinental railway system during the Civil War. Railroads were always the pride of America, and stitched us together. Now Japan, China, all of Europe have high-speed rail systems that put ours to shame. And the potential economic benefits of a high-speed rail link between Chicago and Milwaukee, so that people are avoiding I-94, or the length between Chicago and St. Louis, Detroit, all those Midwestern cities, I think is enormous, and is a very real option with — although gas prices are low right now, it becomes a very meaningful option for people who don’t want to take off their shoes, drive to an airport, pay for parking, suffer delays. So I think there’s a very real opportunity.

I should point out that the opportunities around the rail are not just in high-speed rail. I mean, there’s some basic freight rail issues in Chicago, Milwaukee, the Midwest, that can also be solved, and would help with the whole distribution of goods in the region that would save business a lot of money. And I hope that we end up spending some time focused on that during the transportation reauthorization.

Last question, because I’m out of time.

Q Mr. President, thanks again for doing this. Given the worldwide context of the economic crisis you’re dealing with, are the stimulus measures that you’ve championed in your mind sufficient to right the economy, absent similar actions by other large economies in the world?

And if I could just turn the question around in a way, there are estimates of, like, a hundred million have been plunged into poverty worldwide. Does the U.S., do you have any interest in their situation, whether from the standpoint of self-interest, national security, or morality?

THE PRESIDENT: Well, it’s a great question. I anticipated this question, even though I didn’t know you were going to ask it, Jim,