'This Week' Transcript: President Barack Obama

And as a consequence of the steps that we've taken over the last two weeks to three weeks, we now have a situation in which Syria has acknowledged it has chemical weapons, has said it's willing to join the convention on chemical weapons, and Russia, its primary sponsor, has said that it will pressure Syria to reach that agreement.

That's my goal. And if that goal is achieved, then it sounds to me like we did something right.


STEPHANOPOULOS: And we have much more from President Obama, all the challenges here at home, when we come back.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Tonight, stocks plummet: the worst day on Wall Street in six years, as one of Wall Street's largest investment firms goes bankrupt and another is bought out.


STEPHANOPOULOS: That was five years ago today, when Lehman Brothers collapsed, sparking the worst financial crisis since the Depression.

Five years later, most Americans aren't convinced that we've recovered from it. And I challenged the president with that concern.


STEPHANOPOULOS: Five years out, let's take stock. You know, 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: 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 productivity and people working harder have all accrued to the people at the very top, will average --

STEPHANOPOULOS: (Inaudible) 95 percent of the gains to the top 1 percent. That is so striking.

OBAMA: It is. And the folks at -- 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.

That's why we made sure that we had a tax system that was a little bit fairer by asking people to pay more at the top. That's what the Affordable Care Act health care reform is about, is making sure that folks who have been left out in the cold when it comes to health care are able to get health care.

That's why we strengthened the entire banking system so that, you know, "too big to fail" is far less likely to be in place if, heaven forbid, there's a crisis the next time.

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