Transcript: Charles Gibson Interviews Barack Obama

***Per the White House, President Obama misspoke and meant to say, "I want provisions that are not going to be a violation of World Trade Organization agreements or in other ways signal protectionism."

CHARLES GIBSON: What's in there now? Do you think that does that? Do you want it out?

PRESIDENT OBAMA: I think we need to make sure that any provisions that are in there are not going to trigger a trade war.

CHARLES GIBSON: And secondly, AMT relief is in the Senate bill, alternative minimum tax, which makes it very expensive. It helps upper middle class people. Do you want that out?

PRESIDENT OBAMA: Well, I think that most economists will tell you that the tax breaks that are most important for stimulating the economy are tax breaks to middle income people, working people who are going to spend them quickly, not to people like you and me, Charlie. We don't need tax breaks. We'll just put it in our bank accounts.

And so I think that my overarching approach would be to make sure that the tax cuts are targeted towards people in need.

CHARLES GIBSON: It sounds like you want it out.

PRESIDENT OBAMA: But look, this is an area where I'm happy to have conversations with the Republicans. The AMT has been a problem. I think a lot of the public doesn't know exactly what's going on there, but because it wasn't indexed inflation, you've got a tax that was originally targeted towards upper income Americans starting to hit middle class Americans. I want to protect the middle class, but I don't want that to push out important investments and tax breaks for working families.

CHARLES GIBSON: And final question. This completes two weeks in office.


CHARLES GIBSON: The job what you expected, tougher than you thought? Do you feel comfortable?

PRESIDENT OBAMA: You know, I feel surprisingly comfortable in the job. I think I've got a great staff. We've got a great team.

The challenges are big. You know, we've got an economy that I think is worse than anybody would have anticipated even two or three months ago. We've seen some progress in Iraq, but in Afghanistan we've got enormous challenges. And we've got a -- not just an immediate economic crisis, but a long-term budget issue in terms of the amount of debt that we're accumulating.

Trying to square all those circles is a challenge. But one thing that I'm absolutely convinced about is that you want to be president when you've got big problems. If things are going to smoothly, then this is just another nice home office.



CHARLES GIBSON: Nice to talk to you.

PRESIDENT OBAMA: Appreciate it. Thank you, Charlie.

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