But what we don't want is this thing to be a Christmas tree loaded up with a whole bunch of pet projects that people have for their local communities.
STEPHANOPOULOS: I've heard that -- and your meetings on Capitol Hill, the one thing you've been most focused on is get this done now.
STEPHANOPOULOS: It has to be done...
STEPHANOPOULOS: … Presidents Day weekend.
STEPHANOPOULOS: What happens if it's not?
OBAMA: Well, you know, then Congress was going to hear from me. And I was pleased to hear Nancy Pelosi say that if we don't get it done by the Presidents Day recess, we won't have a Presidents Day recess.
STEPHANOPOULOS: But what's your fear?
OBAMA: Well, the concern is that in a non-emergency situation, Congress exercises all sorts of prerogatives. They've got all sorts of procedures. Everybody wants to be heard. And I'm respectful of that. I'm coming from the United States Senate. I understand why that is important.
And, you know, one of the things that we're trying to set a tone of is that, you know, Congress is a co-equal branch of government. We're not trying to jam anything down people's throats.
Here's what we know though, that the sooner a recovery and reinvestment package is in place, the sooner we can start turning the economy around. We can't afford three, four, five, six more months where we're losing half a million jobs per month.
And the estimates are that if we don't do anything, we could see 4 million jobs lost this year.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Another part of that is the financial rescue package.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Do you want President Bush to request that second $350 billion? And how do you want that spent differently from the first?
OBAMA: Well, I started off with the premise, when this crisis first arose, that we have to keep our financial system stable, and we have to maintain the flow of credit to businesses and families. That's as important as what's happening in terms of consumer spending or business investment, because if companies can't make payroll, people get laid off. If a guy can't borrow for a car loan, that affects not only him, but the car dealer and the car manufacturer.
So keeping flow of credit is critical. And we had to do something last fall. I, like many, are disappointed with how the whole TARP process has unfolded. There hasn't been enough oversight. We found out this week in a report that we are not tracking where this money is going.
I think that when you look at how we have handled the home foreclosure situation and whether we've done enough in terms of helping families on the ground who may have lost their homes because they lost their jobs or because they got sick, we haven't done enough there. So…
STEPHANOPOULOS: Congressman Frank says he wants $50 billion of the new money to go just to that.
OBAMA: Well, so here's what we have done. What I've done is asked my team to come together, come up with a set of principles around how we are going to maintain transparency, what are we going to do in terms of housing, how are we going to target small businesses that are under an enormous business crunch?