On April 14, President Obama gave a speech at Georgetown University, trying to explain why he was taking on so many economic issues so early in his administration. He argued that the country needed to break its bubble-and-bust cycle and cited the New Testament in calling for a new economic foundation for the nation. This foundation would be built on better schools, alternative energy, more affordable health care and a more regulated Wall Street, he said. Later that afternoon (shortly before the Obama family introduced its new dog, Bo, on the South Lawn of the White House), I sat down with the president to talk about how his agenda might change daily life in this country.
This was our third interview about the economy, the first two occurring during last year's campaign. And while the setting was decidedly more formal this time -- the Oval Office -- the interview felt as conversational as those earlier ones. We sat at the far end of the office from his desk and spoke for 50 minutes. None of his economic advisers were there. As the conversation progressed, Obama spoke in increasingly personal terms. What follows is a lightly edited transcript of that interview.
At the end of our conversation, when I asked him if he was reading anything good, he said he had become sick enough of briefing books to begin reading a novel in the evenings -- "Netherland," by Joseph O'Neill.