CHARLES GIBSON: So let's talk about it. You said from the get-go that you wanted a very big stimulus package, and you wanted it quickly.
PRESIDENT OBAMA: Right
CHARLES GIBSON: And so, within days, an $800-plus billion bill was written.
PRESIDENT OBAMA: Right.
CHARLES GIBSON: Did haste make waste?
PRESIDENT OBAMA: No. I actually think that if you look at the package that came out of the House, here's what we've got. We've got provisions to help states who are seeing record numbers of people unemployed, providing them unemployment insurance, food stamps, making sure that they don't lose their health care. That's the right thing to do. Not only does it stimulate the economy, but it gives families immediate relief.
We focus on making sure that in addition to creating jobs, we're laying the foundation for long-term economic growth. So we invest in infrastructure, around new green jobs and energy, making sure that we are weatherizing homes to save on our energy bills long term; making sure that we are investing in our health care IT system so that we can reduce costs and improve quality and reduce medical errors.So those are all sound investments that need to be made. And I think that the package that has been put together is one that balances the need for speed -- we've got to get this money out quickly in order to put people back to work -- and the need for us to make sure that some of this money is going to long-term investments that will make us more competitive.
CHARLES GIBSON: Which leads some people to say you tried to do too much with this bill too soon, and not enough of it is really stimulative. And as you know, there's a lot of people in the public, a lot of members of Congress, who think this is pork-stuffed, and that it really doesn't stimulate. A lot of people have said it's a spending bill and not a stimulus bill.
PRESIDENT OBAMA: Well, Charlie, if you take a look at the bill, the fact is, there are no earmarks in this bill, which, by the way, some of the critics can't claim for legislation they've voted for over the last eight years. There's no earmarks in it. We've made sure that there aren't individual pork projects in there.
The criticisms have generally been around some policy initiatives that were placed in the bill that I think are actually good policy, but some people may say is not going to actually stimulate jobs quickly enough. I think that there's legitimate room for working through those issues over the next several weeks to make sure that we get the best possible bill. But here's the thing that I think we have to understand. The economy is in desperate straits. What I won't do is adopt the same economic theories that helped land us in the worst economy since the Great Depression. What I will do is work with anybody of good faith to make sure that we can come up with the best possible package to not only create jobs and provide support to families, but also to lay the groundwork for long-term economic growth.
CHARLES GIBSON: CBO says only 25 percent of this bill would get to people within a year. Republicans now say it needs to be more stimulative, there needs to be more money on infrastructure, there needs to be more tax cuts, there needs to be more help for homeowners, maybe even guaranteeing 4, 4.5 percent mortgages.
Would you accept those things?