As the five-year anniversary of the collapse of Lehman Brothers — which sparked the worst of the financial crisis — approaches, President Obama spoke to ABC’s George Stephanopoulos about the progress that has been made and the struggles that continue, particularly when it comes to wages.
“What do you say to those Americans who think Wall Street is winning but they’re not?” Stephanopoulos asked
“Well, let’s think about where we were five years ago,” the president responded. “The economy was on the verge of a Great Depression. In some ways, actually, the economic data and– the collapse of the economy was worse than what happened– in the 1930s. And we came in, stabilized the situation. We’ve now had 42 straight months of growth, seven and a half million new jobs created, 500,000 jobs in manufacturing, 370,000 jobs in an auto industry that– had completely collapsed.”
Pressed about a recent report that showed 95 percent of the gains of the recovery have gone to the richest 1 percent, Obama said he does think the president can play a role in decreasing income inequality, which studies show has been exacerbated by government policies.
“…if we have policies that make sure that– our kids are prepared for higher skilled jobs, if we have policies that make sure that we’re rebuilding our infrastructure, ’cause a robot can’t– build a road– and we need– you know, new ports and a smarter electricity grid, if we’re making investments– to make sure that– research and development continues to happen here, if we have– tax breaks for companies that are investing here in the United States as opposed to overseas, all those things can make the situation better,” he said.
He contrasted his policies with those proposed by the GOP.
“There’s no serious economist out there that would suggest that, if you took the Republican agenda of slashing education further, slashing Medicare further, slashing research and development further, slashing investments in infrastructure further, that that would reverse some of these trends of inequality.”
The president also reiterated that he will not negotiate with House Republicans when it comes to raising the debt limit to pay for debts Congress has already voted to incur.