STEPHANOPOULOS: And part of that morass, of course, is this -- the cascading failures of the banks that we've seen over the last several weeks and months, even last week.
And there are reports this weekend in the newspapers that your team is now considering going back to the original TARP approach, to the original rescue approach where you buy up all of the toxic assets of the banks, put them in a government agency, get them out of the banks once and for all, and that's going to be the only way to get confidence back in the banking system.
Is that what the president wants to do?
AXELROD: Look, I don't want to get into the details of how we're going to administer the TARP. Our team will be discussing those details in the days after Tuesday. But I think it's clear that it has to be administered in a much different way.
First of all, the point is to get credit flowing again to businesses and to families across the country. That hasn't happened with the expenditure of the $350 billion.
STEPHANOPOULOS: And following up on that, Tom Friedman in The New York Times today says that the president, as soon as he gets into office, should call in the 300 top bankers in the country into the East Room and basically read them the riot act and tell them to get lending again.
Will you follow that advice?
AXELROD: Well, I think he is going to have strong message for the bankers. We're not -- we want to see credit flowing again. We don't want them to sit on any money that they get from taxpayers.
The other things that we have to deal with is transparency. No one can really tell you exactly where the money went, how it was spent, it's not easy to follow even for people in government. And we have to deal with that. We have to begin to address the housing issue in a way it hasn't been addressed yet.
So there are a lot of things that have to be done differently. And we have to make sure that the money doesn't got to excessive CEO pay and dividends, when it should be going to lending.
STEPHANOPOULOS: The man you want to administer this, of course, is Tim Geithner, President-elect Obama's choice for Treasury secretary, revealed this week that he didn't pay about $34,000 in back taxes when he was working at the IMF.
What do you say to Americans who say it just doesn't seem right that the person who's going to be overseeing the Internal Revenue Service didn't pay $34,000 in back taxes.
AXELROD: Well, he has paid those taxes, George, when it was pointed out that he had made a mistake on his taxes.
The mistake he made, which when he was overseas serving our country in the IMF was that -- everyone agrees it's a common mistake that people working overseas make.
He's corrected it. I think, when people look at Tim Geithner, they should look at a guy who's devoted his life to public service, who is an integral part of solving another international financial crisis in the 90s and has vast experience and great insights.
He is precisely the kind of person we need in the Treasury right now. And I think, when people get to know him -- and he's going to testify this week -- I think he's going to inspire great confidence.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Confident he'll be confirmed?
AXELROD: I am confident.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Let's look ahead to the inaugural speech. I know you've been working with the president-elect on that. He and Michelle were asked about that yesterday on the train trip.
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OBAMA: She's heard me speak before.