WHEN: MONDAY, SEPTEMBER 20TH AT 12PM ET
WHERE: CNBC’s "Investing in America: A CNBC Town Hall Event with President Obama"
Following are excerpts from the unofficial transcript of a CNBC EXCLUSIVE town hall with President Barack Obama today, Monday, September 20th at 12PM ET. Hosted by CNBC’s Chief Washington Correspondent John Harwood, President Obama discusses the economy and answers your questions.
All references must be sourced to CNBC's "Investing in America: A CNBC Town Hall Event with President Obama."
Video clips are available on obamatownhall.cnbc.com.
Full transcript to follow.
OBAMA ON IRAN:
"Iran having a nuclear weapon would be a real problem. We passed the toughest sanctions against Iran, ever. They are having an effect. We continue to be open to diplomatic solutions to resolve this, we don't think that a war between Israel and Iran, or military options, would be the ideal way to solve this problem. But we are keeping all our options on the table. "
OBAMA ON UNEMPLOYMENT:
"When the unemployment rate is still high doesn't matter if I'm green, purple, people still frustrated. I can describe the economy but if you're out of work, all you want to hear is 'when am I going to a job."
OBAMA ON THE CHALLENGE:
"The challenge right now is that I'm thinking about the next generation and there are a lot of folks out there thinking about the next election. If I were making decisions based on November then I wouldn't have done some of the things I had done because I knew they weren't popular, but they were the right thing to do."
OBAMA ON BEING STABILIZED:
"We had to take quick steps to make sure the financial system was not collapsing, that people could get auto loans, student loans, that biz large and small could get financing to keep their doors open and their payrolls on track. And, in addition we had to make sure we didn't slip into a Great Depression. We've done that. The programs we put in place, worked."
OBAMA ON AMERICAN INVESTMENT:
"We have put forward proposals for example to accelerate investment here in the United States instead of overseas in research and development, in plants and equipment. So there are a lot of plans in place that can make improvement, but its slow and steady as oppose to the kind of quick fix that I think a lot of people would like to see."
OBAMA ON BANK BAILOUT:
"It is very important for us not to find ourselves in a position in which banks gets too big to fail and if they make bad decisions, taxpayers have to bail them out, or we let the entire economy collapse. That's not a choice that I want any future president to have to make."
OBAMA ON GOING BACK TO FUNDAMENTALS:
"We are now having to go back to the fundamentals that made America great. That means we have to improve our education system, that makes sure we have to make sure our markets are working that are good for a broad base of people and not just a narrow base of people."
OBAMA ON HIS GOAL:
"My goal here is not to try to convince you that everything is where it needs to be it's not- that's why I ran for President, but what I am saying is that we're moving in the right direction."
OBAMA ON COLLEGE:
"Part of what we did over the past year and a half, is to make sure that billions of dollars that were going to subsidize the financial service industry under the federal student loan program are now going to be going directly to students, so that millions of students will be able to get loans, scholarships to go to college. now thats going to impact a whole bunch of kids out there.."
OBAMA ON TAX CUTS:
"I can't give tax cuts to the top 2% of Americans, 86% of that money going to people making a a million or more, and lower the deficit at the same time. I don't have the math."
OBAMA ON TAX RELIEF:
"Let's go ahead and move forward on want we agree to, which is tax relief for 97 percent of Americans, in fact everybody would get tax relief, but just up to 250,000 a year more. And let's get the economy moving faster, lets get it growing faster. At some point in the future, if we want to have discussions about further lowering tax rates, lets do so at a time where we can actually afford it."
OBAMA ON SMALL BUSINESSES:
"We have passed 8 tax cuts for small businesses so far, we have made it easier for you to invest in plants and equipment. We have already taken down capital gains and we want to reduce capital gains for small businesses down to zero. All of these things are what are historically considered pro business agendas."
OBAMA ON WORKING TOGETHER:
"The politicizing of so many decisions that are out there has to be toned down. We've got to get back to working together and my hope is, and this is part of my job as leader, not just a matter of implementing good policies but also setting a better tone of cooperating again instead of going at loggerheads all the time and I'm going to have to do more additional outreach to the business community on that front."
OBAMA ON MAKING LONG TERM INVESTMENTS:
"There's no such thing as a free lunch, we've got to make long term investments and we have to do so at a time when the economy is in a tough situation we've got to identify those things that don't work, programs that aren't working they way they are supposed to tax loopholes that aren't encouraging economic growth, and we have to eliminate those, and we've got to do it, and here's the biggest challenge, we have to do it in a way that doesn't risk the current recovery."
OBAMA ON INFRASTRUCTURE:
"Europe spends 5 percent of their GDP, their Gross Domestic Product, their total economical output, on infrastructure, China spends 9 percent on infrastructure, we're spending 2 percent. Which is why our bridges fall down, and our roads are messed up, and our sewer systems, and our airports, all these things are in a bad way."
OBAMA ON THE TEA PARTY:
"The problem I've seen in the debate taking place in some Tea Party events, I think they're misidentifying who the culprits are here. As I said before we had to take emergency steps last year but the majority of economists will tell you the emergency steps we take are not the problem long term. The problems long term are the problems I talked about earlier. We got 2 tax cuts not paid for, 2 wars not paid for, an aging population, we all demand services but taxes have actually substantially gone down."
OBAMA ON THE FINANCIAL SECTOR:
"Wall Street and Main Street are connected. We need a vibrant vital financial sector that is investing in businesses, investing in jobs, investing in our people, providing consumers loans so they can buy products. All that's very important and we want that to thrive. But we've got to do so in a responsible way."
OBAMA ON AUTOS:
"We are now seeing the top 3, the three U.S. auto makers making a profit, for the first time in a long time. they are hiring for the first time in a long time."
OBAMA ON CREDIT CARDS & MORTGAGES:
"If you have a mortgage or a credit card, or any kind of financial dealings out there- as a consequence of the changes we made, the credit card companies can't increase your interest rate without notifying you and they can't increase your interest rate on your previous balances, in terms of getting a mortgage, you can't have a mortgage broker steer you towards a mortgage that's ultimately going to cost you more money because maybe they are getting a financial incentive to do so, those things are now against the law."
OBAMA ON THE FINANCIAL MARKETS BEING STABILIZED:
"As a consequence of reckless decisions that have been made, the economy was on the verge of collapse. Those same businesses now are profitable, the financial markets are stabilized. We haven't increased taxes on businesses, actually we have instituted 50 tax cuts, many of them going to businesses large and small, and so the only thing we've said is that we've got to make sure we're not doing the same things that we were doing in the past that got us into this mess in the first place."
OBAMA ON THE PROBLEMS:
"Some of us may want a few more cuts, some of us may want higher revenues but understand that there's facts and reality there that go beyond the political rhetoric and we're not going to be able to solve this problem just by yelling at each other."
OBAMA ON GROWING THE ECONOMY:
"If you're making a billion dollars a year after a very bad financial crisis where 8 million people lost their jobs and small businesses can't get loans, then I think that you shouldn't feel put upon. The question should be how we can work with you to continue to grow the economy."
OBAMA ON CONSTANTLY RE-EXAMINING WHAT WE'RE DOING:
"We are going to constantly reexamine what we're doing we are open to new ideas that are out there, and if we think something's gonna work to put people to work then absolutely we're gonna try to make it happen."
OBAMA ON CHINA TRADE:
"It's gotta be fair. Our trade relationship has to be fair. You cant just sell to us and we can't sell to you. So we have been bringing more actions against China before the WTO. We are going to enforce our trade laws much more effectively than we have in the past, not because I'm anti-trade, I'm pro-trade, I just want to make sure trade is good for American businesses and American workers and for the last several years it hasn't always been."
OBAMA ON TAX RATES:
"Our tax rates are lower now than they were under Ronald Reagan. They're much lower than they were under Dwight Eisenhower."
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