Oval Office Interview

Feb 3, 2009 5:13pm

ABC News Charlie Gibson Reports:

The White House invited us down for an interview in the Oval Office with President Obama and you wonder if they had known Tom Daschle was going to withdraw his name from consideration and his chief enforcement officer was also going to step down today,  would they have wanted to do it.

Watch "World News with Charles Gibson" tonight at 6:30 ET for the full report.

And, obviously, those were the first questions — about Tom Daschle, about Nancy Killefer and about Timothy Geithner, who, though confirmed, still didn’t pay all of his taxes. And Obama said, Well, it’s my fault. He took responsibility.

We said,  "Was it an embarrassing day, Mr. President, for this administration?"  And he said yes, this is an embarrassment.  And he takes responsibility for it. He’s the one who, in his inaugural speech,  talked about an era of responsibility, saying there can’t be two sets of rules for the people in Washington and for the people back home who pay their taxes. Nonetheless, it is an embarrassment for the administration.

And, then, there are questions to be asked about the stimulus package, which is now being hashed out in the Senate — whether the president would accept the kind of Republican amendments that are being offered, amendments to make things better for homeowners, to have more tax relief and, also, to increase infrastructure spending. The president defended the amount of spending and the rate at which it would be paid out. He  believes the vast majority of the $800-plus billion is stimulative and will be spent rather quickly.

I cited a CBO study finding that only 25 percent of the money would be paid out in the first year but the White House disputes that, arguing that much more would get out to the public, and much more quickly, than some outside analysts think.

And, then, there’s the question of whether Obama is comfortable in the White House. And, he said, indeed, it has only been two weeks but, yes, I feel rather comfortable.

And,  he said we have so many big problems, but if you didn’t have big problems then this would be just another job with a really nice office.

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