Obama on Auto Execs' Private Jets: 'A Little Tone Deaf'
Read excerpts from Barbara Walters' interview with President-Elect Barack Obama.
Nov. 25, 2008— -- The following are excerpts from Barbara Walters' interview with President-Elect Barack Obama, conducted Tuesday in Chicago.
BARBARA WALTERS: How did you feel when you read about the three heads of the auto companies taking private planes to Washington?
BARACK OBAMA: Well, I thought maybe they're a little tone deaf to what's happening in America right now. And this has been a chronic problem, not just for the auto industry, I mean, we're sort of focused on them. But I think it's been a problem for the captains of industry, generally. When people are pulling down hundred-million-dollar bonuses on Wall Street, and taking enormous risks with other people's money, that indicates a sense that you don't have any perspective on what's happening to ordinary Americans. When the auto makers are getting paid far more than their counterparts at Toyota, or at Honda, and yet, they're losing money a lot faster than Japanese auto makers are, that tells me that they're not seeing what's going on out there, and one of the things I hope my presidency helps to usher in is a, a return to an ethic of responsibility.
That if you're placed in a position of power, then you've got responsibilities to your workers. You've got a responsibility to your community. Your share holders. That if -- there's got to be a point where you say, 'You know what, I have enough, and now I'm in this position of responsibility, let me make sure that I'm doing right by people, and, and acting in a way that is responsible.' And that's true, by the way, for members of Congress, that's true for the president, that's true for Cabinet members, that's true for parents. I want all of us to start thinking a little bit more, not just about what's good for me, but let's start thinking about what's good for our children, what's good for our country. The more we do that, the better off we're going to be.
WALTERS:Should bank executives -- it's almost Christmas time -- forgo their bonuses?
OBAMA:I think they should. That's an example of taking responsibility. I think that if you are already worth tens of millions of dollars, and you are having to lay off workers, the least you can do is say, "I'm willing to make some sacrifice as well, because I recognize that there are people who are a lot less well off, who are going through some pretty tough times."