The Obama interview: The 'recipe for economic growth'

U.S. President Barack Obama speaks at Sempra U.S. Gas & Power's Copper Mountain Solar 1 facility, the largest photovoltaic solar plant in the United States on March 21, 2012 in Boulder City, Nevada.

President Barack Obama walks past an oil rig to a stage to speaks at an oil and gas production fields on federal lands March 21, 2012 near Maljamar, NM.

Stacey Vanek Smith: It's day two of President Obama's energy tour. He'll be in Oklahoma and Ohio today, touting what he calls his "all of the above" strategy -- alternatives like wind and solar along with oil and natural gas. He's pushing back against Republican criticism of his energy policies and economic strategies.

Our own Kai Ryssdal sat down with President Obama yesterday on the first stop of his tour in Nevada.


Kai Ryssdal: Both Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum made the case that their platforms of economic freedom are the way to go. They say you're not doing enough; they say you haven't been doing enough -- you shrug, but I mean, you know what they're saying. So the question is: close the sale, right? Because you keeping your job in November is going to be dependent on how people feel about whether you did it, or you didn't do it, as you promised three and a half years ago.

Barack Obama: Look, I think at a time when people are still out there struggling around the country; where unemployment is still too high; and a lot of folks are still worried about their mortgage -- their home being underwater, nobody, I think, can claim that we are where we want to be.

But I think when the American people think back to the last three years and where we've been, and where we're moving towards now; when you ask them: What has more likelihood of succeeding? A policy in which we're providing additional tax cuts to the very wealthiest Americans -- who are the only folks who've benefitted from any significant income growth over the last decade. Stripping away regulations that help keep our air and water clean. Defunding things like education that we know are going to help us to be competitive.

When you ask them, "Is that a recipe for long-term economic growth?" Their answer is going to be "no." And when you turn to 'em and say, "Should we be investing in school reform, that puts more money in but also demands greater accountability and make sure that we're investing in teachers? Should we be rebuilding our infrastructure? Should we be investing in clean energy technology? Should we be investing in basic research and science?

And, should we pay for that, and get our deficit under control with a balanced approach that gets rid of programs that don't work, but is also making sure that folks like me are paying our fair share of taxes -- then that's the recipe that they have a lot more confidence will allow us to be competitive in the 21st century.

So the debate is going to be joined; I think it's going to be a healthy one. But the fact is, we've tried what they're peddling. We tried it in the decade before the financial crisis -- shoot, we tried it the decade before the Great Depression. And historically, that recipe -- that sort of "on your own" economics that is now being warmed over in this campaign -- has not been a recipe for American greatness and American economic success.

About the author

Kai Ryssdal is the host and senior editor of Marketplace, public radio’s program on business and the economy.

President Barack Obama walks past an oil rig to a stage to speaks at an oil and gas production fields on federal lands March 21, 2012 near Maljamar, NM.

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