TAPPER: Is the reason the president's not pushing for a bolder move on the economy because he doesn't believe there is one, or because he doesn't think he could get it through Congress?
GIBBS: Well, I think you will hear the president — and you heard him today, after meeting with his economic team and you will hear him over the course of the next several weeks outlining a series of ideas, some of which are stuck in the Congress and some of which we continue to work through the economic team, that will be targeted measures that continue to spur our recovery and to create an environment in which the private sector is hiring.
TAPPER: But these are smaller bore type proposals. They aren't another $787 billion stimulus package.
GIBBS: No, they're not. But let's understand — when you mention small bore, some of you probably saw this article today, small businesses sit in holding pattern. Right? Small businesses have put hiring, supply buying and real estate expansion on hold as they wait out the vote on a small business aid bill that is stalled — stalled in the Senate earlier in this summer. Right?
As the president said in the Rose Garden, 60 percent of our job losses have come from small business. Small businesses are waiting for the Senate to act on a bill that would cut their taxes and provide them greater loans and investment opportunities with which to expand.
The Republican Party talks a lot about their support for and their helping of small business. And I think the question that the president put toward them today is, if that's what you support, why are you standing in the way of something that small businesses acknowledge would help with their hiring, with their purchasing and with their expansion?
TAPPER: OK, but the question I asked was do you think — does the president think that there should be a bolder move taken beyond a $30 billion small business lending initiative…
GIBBS: Well, again, I think…
TAPPER: … there aren't the votes for it? Or he just doesn't think there is such a thing?
GIBBS: I — I think, Jake, I think the president mentioned several ideas today that he believes are important to continue that recovery that we will pursue. I think these will be areas and initiatives that are targeted to — targeted toward spurring the recovery and creating an environment for hiring, not some…
TAPPER: He believes that is the right approach? Or believes — he believes that it's the only politically possible approach?
GIBBS: Well, I — look, I — I don't think there's any — I think there's no doubt that there are — there's only so much that can be done.
TAPPER: Not having to do with politics?
GIBBS: Not having to do with politics.
TAPPER: In retrospect, was the stimulus too small?
GIBBS: Look, we — we — look, we always — I think it makes sense to step back just for a second. We — if you look at — and I don't think anybody had and I think we'd be the first to admit that nobody had in January of 2009 a sufficient grasp at the sheer depth of what we were facing. I think that's quite frankly true for virtually every economist that made predictions.
You had — you — the chart that I generally show, adding the job losses for the last three recessions up doesn't get you to the job loss that we've seen in this recession alone. It took us a long time to get to this point. We got here not simply because of one thing, but because of many things. Right? We've seen the housing market collapse. We saw what happened to credit markets. We saw what happened to the stability of our financial system. All of that accumulated after many years into one big pothole that — the size of which any stimulus was unlikely to fill. I think that for all of the political back-and-forth on the Recovery Act, there is — there shouldn't no longer be any doubt, despite some Capitol Hill nonbelievers, that what the Recovery Act did was prevent us from sliding even — even into a — into a deeper recession with greater economic contraction, with greater job loss than we have experienced because of it.