U.S. President Barack Obama told George Stephanopoulos on on ABC’s This Week on Sunday that while he believes “the banking system works,” America isn’t “near where we need to be” in terms of an economic recovery.
Marking the fifth anniversary of the collapse of Lehman Brothers this weekend, Stephanopoulos questioned Obama about his views on financial reform, citing TIME’s latest cover: “I’m looking at the cover of TIME Magazine this week. It says, “How Wall Street Won.” And we’ve got polls showing that, you know, two thirds of the country still think we’re going in the wrong direction, think the economy is no more secure. What do you say to those Americans who think Wall Street is winning but they’re not?” Obama replied:
Well, let’s think about where we were five years ago. The economy was on the verge of a great depression. In some ways, actually, the economic data and the collapse of the economy was worse than what happened in the 1930s. And we came in, stabilized the situation. We’ve now had 42 straight months of growth, seven and a half million new jobs created, 500,000 jobs in manufacturing, 370,000 jobs in an auto industry that had completely collapsed …
The banking system works. It is giving loans to companies who can get credit. And so we have seen, I think undoubtedly, progress across the board. The housing market has recovered. But what is also true is we’re not near where we need to be. And part of it has to do with a whole bunch of long term trends in the economy, where the gains that we’ve made in in productivity and people working harder have all accrued to the people at the very top …
And the folks in the middle and at the bottom haven’t seen wage or income growth, not just over the last three, four years, but over the last 15 years. And so everything that I’ve done has been designed to, number one, stabilize the economy, get it growing again, start producing jobs again, number two, trying to push against these trends that had been happening for decades now.
Obama explained that his policies are designed to better prepare the banking system for economic distress but that there is still a long way to go.
In a blog posted on the U.S. Treasury Department’s website on Friday, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Public Affairs Anthony Coley responded to TIME Assistant Managing Editor Rana Foroohar’s cover story, agreeing that there is “still more to do to protect taxpayers, consumers and our financial system” in order to contend the economy is no longer at risk, but that calling financial reform a “myth” — as Foroohar did in her cover story — is “wrong”. Foroohar’s response to the Treasury Department’s criticism can be found here.