Today's Q for O

... At his first presidential press conference, in the East Room of the White House tonight.

TAPPER:  Thank you, Mr. President.  My question follows Julianna's in -- in content.  The American people have seen hundreds of billions of dollars spent already, and still the economy continues to freefall. Beyond avoiding the national catastrophe that you've warned about, once all the legs of your stool are in place --

OBAMA:  Right.

TAPPER:  -- how can the American people gauge whether or not your programs are working?  Can they -- should they be looking at the metric of the stock market, home foreclosures, unemployment?  What metric should they use when and how will they know if it's working or whether or not we need to go to a Plan B?

OBAMA:  I think my initial measure of success is creating or saving 4 million jobs.  That's bottom line number one, because, if people are working, then they've got enough confidence to make purchases, to make investments.  Businesses start seeing that consumers are out there with a little more confidence, and they start making investments, which means they start hiring workers.  So step number one:  job creation.

Step number two:  Are we seeing the credit markets operate effectively?  You know, I can't tell you how many businesses that I talk to that are successful businesses but just can't get credit. Part of the problem in Elkhart that I heard about today was the fact that -- this is the R.V. capital of America.  You've got a bunch of R.V. companies that have customers who want to purchase R.V.s, but even though their credit is good, they can't get the loan. Now, the businesses also can't get loans to make payments to their suppliers.  But when they have consumers, consumers can't get the loans that they need.  So normalizing the credit markets is, I think, step number two.

Step number three is going to be housing.  Have we stabilized the housing market?  Now, you know, the federal government doesn't have complete control over that, but if our plan is effective, working with the Federal Reserve Bank, working with the FDIC, I think what we can do is stem the rate of foreclosure and we can start stabilizing housing values over time.

And the most -- the -- the biggest measure of success is whether we stop contracting and shedding jobs and we start growing again. Now, you know, I don't have a crystal ball.  And as I said, this is an unprecedented crisis.  But my hope is that after a difficult year -- and this year is going to be a difficult year -- that businesses start investing again, they start making decisions that, you know, in fact, there's money to be made out there, customers or consumers start feeling that their jobs are stable and safe, and they start making purchases again, and, if we get things right, then, starting next year, we can start seeing significant improvement.

- jpt

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