'This Week' Transcript: President Barack Obama

Because we've said, you know, banks, you've got to double the amount of capital that you have so that you can absorb losses when you have them, so taxpayers aren't bailing you out. If you do start going under you've got to have a plan -- a living will, we call it -- so that we don't have to come in and clean up after you. You're going to be on your own.

STEPHANOPOULOS: OK, but you do all these things --


STEPHANOPOULOS: -- and still, 95 percent of the gains go to the --

OBAMA: Right.

STEPHANOPOULOS: -- top 1 percent.

Do you look at that, four and a half years in, and say, "Maybe a president just can't stop this accelerating inequality?"

OBAMA: No, I think -- I think the president can stop it. I -- the problem is that there continues to be a major debate here in Washington. And that is: how do we respond to these underlying trends?

If you look at the data, a couple of things are creating these trends.

Number one, globalization. Right? Capital, companies, they can move businesses and jobs anywhere they want. And so they're looking for the lowest wages. That squeezes workers here in the United States, even if corporations are profitable.

Technology: if you go to a lot of companies now, they've eliminated entire occupations because they're now robotized. We don't have travel agents. We don't have bank tellers.

STEPHANOPOULOS: It's bigger than Washington.

OBAMA: Right. So there's a whole bunch of stuff that's happening in the marketplace. But if we have policies that make sure that our kids are prepared for higher skilled jobs, if we have policies that make sure that we're rebuilding our infrastructure -- because a robot can't build a road -- and we need, you know, new ports and a smarter electricity grid, if we're making investments to make sure that research and development continues to happen here, if we have tax breaks for companies that are investing here in the United States as opposed to overseas, all those things can make the situation better.

It doesn't solve the problem entirely, but it pushes against these trends. And the problem that we've got right now is you've got a portion of Congress who -- whose policies don't just want to, you know, leave things alone, they actually want to accelerate these trends.

There's no serious economist out there that would suggest that, if you took the Republican agenda of slashing education further, slashing Medicare further, slashing research and development further, slashing investments in infrastructure further, that that would reverse some of these trends of inequality.

STEPHANOPOULOS: But the stalemate may lead to something even more disastrous. It's deja vu all over again here in Washington. You're a couple weeks away from a government shutdown; few weeks away from a possible default one more time.


STEPHANOPOULOS: Speaker Boehner says, "Listen, you just have to sit down and negotiate with me."

Are you still absolutely refusing to talk, in any way, shape or form?

OBAMA: No. No, no. Keep in mind my position here, George, because I've -- I have been through this a couple times with Speaker Boehner. What I'm -- what I've said is, with respect to the budget, we've presented our budget.

And now it's the job of Congress to come up with a budget that keeps our long-term trends down of -- or our current trends of reducing the deficit, moving forward, but also allows us to invest in the things that we need to grow.

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