Following is a transcript of an interview with President Obama conducted by Jackie Calmes and Michael D. Shear of The New York Times. The interview was conducted at Knox College in Galesburg, Ill., on July 24, 2013.
NYT: So we’re here with you, already four years since the recession officially ended. And as your speech sort of laid out, you still have a situation where growth remains slow, income’s is unequal, and a lot of American -- unemployment high -- and a lot of Americans start to worry that this is the new normal. Your intentions aside like you stated them out there in the speech, why shouldn’t we expect that you’re going to leave behind an economy that’s fragile, continued income inequality, and a weakened middle class?
MR. OBAMA: Well, obviously, what Congress does matters. As I said in the speech, the economy is far stronger now than it was four and a half years ago. Most economists believe that growth will actually pick up next quarter and the second half of the year. And the one thing that could really screw things up would be if you have a manufactured crisis and Republicans choose to play brinksmanship all over again.
And I’m glad to see that there are folks in the Senate who I think have already indicated that that is not good policy. We can have debates about fiscal issues without precipitating a crisis. Certainly the idea that we wouldn’t pay our bills and plunge not just the United States but potentially the world into another financial crisis makes absolutely no sense.
But what I also said out there is true that if we stand pat, if we don’t do anything, then growth will be slower than it should be. Unemployment will not go down as fast as it should. Income inequality will continue to rise. Wages, incomes, savings rates for middle-class families will continue to be relatively flat. And that’s not a future that we should accept.