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President Obama's news conference -- full text

(Page 12 of 13)



When we put in place additional dollars for community health centers to ensure that people are still getting the help that they need, or we expand health insurance to millions more children through the children's health insurance program, again, those probably disproportionately impact African-American and Latino families simply because they're the ones who are most vulnerable. They have got higher rates of uninsured in their communities.

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So my general approach is that if the economy is strong, that will lift all boats as long as it is also supported by, for example, strategies around college affordability and job training, tax cuts for working families as opposed to the wealthiest that level the playing field and ensure bottom-up economic growth.

And I'm confident that that will help the African-American community live out the American dream at the same time that it's helping communities all across the country.

Michael Scherer of Time?

Q: Thank you, Mr. President. During the campaign, you criticized President Bush's use of the state secrets privilege, but U.S. attorneys have continued to argue the Bush position in three cases in court. How exactly does your view of state secrets differ from President Bush's? And do you believe presidents should be able to derail entire lawsuits about warrantless wiretapping or rendition if classified information is involved?

OBAMA: I actually think that the state secret doctrine should be modified. I think right now it's over broad.

But keep in mind what happens, is we come in to office. We're in for a week, and suddenly we've got a court filing that's coming up. And so we don't have the time to effectively think through, what exactly should an overarching reform of that doctrine take? We've got to respond to the immediate case in front of us.

There — I think it is appropriate to say that there are going to be cases in which national security interests are genuinely at stake and that you can't litigate without revealing covert activities or classified information that would genuinely compromise our safety.

But searching for ways to redact, to carve out certain cases, to see what can be done so that a judge in chambers can review information without it being in open court, you know, there should be some additional tools so that it's not such a blunt instrument.

And we're interested in pursuing that. I know that Eric Holder and Greg Craig, my White House counsel, and others are working on that as we speak.

STAFF: Last question.

OBAMA: Jonathan Weisman, you get — you get the last word. Where are you? There you are.

Q: Thank you, sir. You are currently the chief shareholder of a couple of very large mortgage giants. You're about to become the chief shareholder of a car company, probably two.

And I'm wondering, what kind of shareholder are you going to be? What is the government's role as the keeper of public — public trust and bonds in — in soon-to-be public companies again? Thank you.

OBAMA: Well, I think our — our first role should be shareholders that are looking to get out. You know, I don't want to run auto companies. I don't want to run banks. I've got two wars I've got to run already. I've got more than enough to do. So the sooner we can get out of that business, the better off we're going to be.

We are in unique circumstances. You had the potential collapse of the financial system, which would have decimated our economy, and so we had to step in.

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