I do not have yet a timetable for how long that's going to take. What I know is I'm not going to make — I'm not going to allow Al Qaida or bin Laden to operate with impunity, planning attacks on the U.S. homeland.
All right. Helene Cooper. Where's Helene? There you are.
QUESTION: Thank you, sir. I wanted to ask you, on the next bank bailout, are you going to impose a requirement that the financial institutions use this money to loosen up credit and make new lending? And if not, how do you make the case to the American people that this bailout will work when the last one didn't?
OBAMA: Again, Helene — and I'm trying to avoid pre-empting my secretary of the treasury. I want all of you to show up at his press conference, as well. He's going to be terrific.
But this relates to Jake's earlier question. One of my bottom lines is whether or not credit is flowing to the people who need it. Is it flowing to banks — excuse me. Is it flowing to businesses, large and small? Is it flowing to consumers? Are they able to operate in ways that translate into jobs and economic growth on Main Street?
And the package that we've put together is designed to help do that. And beyond that, I'm going to make sure that Tim gets his moment in the sun tomorrow.
All right. Major Garrett, where's Major?
QUESTION: Mr. President, at a speech Friday that many of us covered, Vice President Biden said the following thing about a conversation the two of you had in the Oval Office about a subject he didn't disclose: "If we do everything right, if we do it with absolute certainty, if we stand up there and we really make the tough decisions, there's still a 30 percent chance we're going to get it wrong."
Since the vice president brought it up, can you tell the American people, sir, what you were talking about? And if not, can you at least reassure them it wasn't the stimulus bill or the bank rescue plan and if, in general, you agree with that ratio of success, 30 percent failure, 70 percent success?
OBAMA: You know, I don't remember exactly what Joe was referring to ...
... not surprisingly. But let me try this out. I think what Joe may have been suggesting — although I wouldn't put numerical — I wouldn't ascribe any numerical percentage to any of this — is that, given the magnitude of the challenges that we have, any single thing that we do is going to be part of the solution, not all of the solution.
And as I said in my introductory remarks, not everything we do is going to work out exactly as we intended it to work out. You know, this is an unprecedented problem.
And, you know, when you talk to economists, there's some general sense of how we're going to move forward. There's some strong consensus about the need for a recovery package of a certain magnitude. There's a strong consensus that you shouldn't put all your eggs in one basket, all tax cuts or all investment, but that there should be a range of approaches.
But even if we do everything right on that, we've still got to deal with what we just talked about, the financial system, and making sure that banks are lending again. We're still going to have to deal with housing. We're still going to have to make sure that we've got a regulatory structure, a regulatory architecture for the financial system that prevents crises like this from occurring again.
Now, those are big, complicated tasks. So I don't know whether Joe was referring to that, but I used that as a launching point to make a general point about these issues.
OBAMA: I have no idea. I really don't.