GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: Hello, again. In nine days he will be president of the United States. This morning Barack Obama is our exclusive headliner. Welcome back to THIS WEEK.
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT-ELECT: Thank you, George.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Does it feel like you're president already?
STEPHANOPOULOS: This is on quite a pace.
OBAMA: All of those bells and whistles -- as much we are working hard in the next couple of weeks, I think that when you're actually in the Oval Office making decisions, I think that's going to be different.
STEPHANOPOULOS: You know, we asked our viewers what they wanted to hear from you, and we got hundreds of pages of questions, thousands of questions, almost all about the economy. And it's clear there's a lot of pain out there, a lot of fear. And if I could sum up the questions, it would be very simple, can you fix this?
OBAMA: I think we can fix this. But it's going to take some time. It's not going to happen overnight. And what we tried to do this week was, first of all, explain where we are in the economy. That the jobs numbers this week were terrible. That means we've lost 2.5 million last year. That's the most since World War II. You've got another 3.4 million people who have gone from full-time work to part-time work, or want full-time work. So the underemployment rate is extremely high. And, you know, whether it's retail sales, manufacturing, all of the indicators show that we are in the worst recession since the Great Depression.
And it's going to take some time to fix it. But what we tried to do was put forward a plan that says let's act boldly, let's act swiftly. Let's not only provide a jumpstart to the economy and immediately or save 3 million jobs, but let's also put a down payment on some of the structural problems that we have in our economy.
STEPHANOPOULOS: It has been pretty well-received in the Congress. But you're getting some pushback as well, especially from Senate Democrats on the tax cut portions. Senator Tom Harkin said this is trickle down economics all over again. They're focused especially on the business taxes.
Do you really believe those business tax cuts are going to work to create jobs? Or do you put them in so you could get Republican votes?
OBAMA: Well, let's look at the package as a whole, the bulk of the package is direct government spending. And here are a few things we're going to do. We're going to alternative energy production. We are going to weatherize 2 million homes. We are going to create a much more efficient energy system.
And that's going to have enormous ramifications for the economy as a whole down the line. I think we can create a new green economy. And that's going to be one of the keys to the 21st Century. Health care, which is a drain on our economy, both families and businesses, we're going to make investments in information technology, update our systems work, reduce medical error, that's going to save people money.
Education, we want to create a classroom for the 21st Century for every child, as well as community colleges and public universities. So we're making a series of investments that point to the future as well as just dealing with rebuilding our roads, bridges, et cetera.
Now there is no doubt that that probably gives you the most bang for the buck in terms of stimulus, in terms of getting the economy started, putting people back to work. But there are only so many projects that you can do quickly of that sort.