That was money that was going to get out fairly fast, and then what we knew was the rest of the stimulus was going to be roads and bridges and a whole bunch of infrastructure projects that frankly, was going to get six months to eight months to get that money actually into the ground because hat's the nature of big infrastructure projects.
So there's nothing that we would have done differently. We needed a stimulus and we needed a substantial stimulus. Some of the money in the short term just to help stop the freefall and then some other dollars that were going to be designed to put people to back to work and we'll have more ripple effects in the economy, that money is in place and I think is going to make a big difference.
Now, the question that some have argued is okay what next? Maybe you stop the freefall but you still have close to 10 percent unemployment, and you know this is something that we wrestle with constantly. The more that we can do to stimulate the economy in the short term, the challenge we've got as everybody knows is that we inherited a big deficit, and it is at a certain point potentially counter productive if we're spending more money than we're having to borrow.
TAPPER: Hence supporters like Warren Buffet and Colin Powell that are voicing concerns...
OBAMA: And then they've got legitimate concerns -- in the midterm and long term we're going to have to get control of that. So this is one that where we're pressing the gas, pressing the brakes, trying to get it right short term.
The one thing though Jake, is that even as we're focusing on the short term and the incredible pain that people are feeling when they lose their homes, lose their job. I get these letters that I read every day and they're heartbreaking. I've also got to focus on that medium and long term -- how are we going to drive economic growth in America after the recession? What's the new model? Because economic growth over the last couple of decades has been driven by credit cards, home equity loans, huge leverage on wall street, excessive debt, deficit spending -- what's the new model? What's going to create that growth that consumer demand is not driving?
And that's where our policy to reform our health care system so the economy is more efficient, really pushing on clean energy which can create huge I think job growth potentials in our economy, improving our education system, particularly in math and science, and then getting a handle on our long term fiscal health. Those four components are going to be absolutely critical, and that's why when I hear arguments of people saying, you're doing to much or what you're doing's not working, so stand there and do nothing -- what I try to explain to people is look, short term we've got problems and no matter how powerful our stimulus, there's still going to be issues of working out all that excessive debt and the financial crisis that had happened.
But what we've got to keep our eye on is how do we emerge from this stronger and not permanently weakened, and the only way to do that is to make sure that those pillars of long term economic growth get put in place.
TAPPER: Sasha and Malia having fun here?