Image: Barbara Walters, Barak Obama, Michelle Obama
George Burns  /  AP
President-elect Barack Obama, with his wife, Michelle, and Barbara Walters in an ABC photo, said in an interview that bank executives should show they're taking responsibility in tough economic times.
By Associated Press Writer
updated 11/26/2008 12:54:05 AM ET 2008-11-26T05:54:05

President-elect Barack Obama thinks bank executives should forgo their bonuses this year to show they are taking responsibility amid difficult economic times.

In an interview with Barbara Walters to air Wednesday, Obama also said he is trying to keep his BlackBerry or find another way to "break through the isolation and the bubble that exists around the president."

Obama talked about a range of topics in Tuesday's interview, including troop deployments in Afghanistan and Thanksgiving holiday plans with his family, ABC News said. He also discussed the adjustment of moving into the White House with his wife, Michelle, and their two daughters.

According to excerpts of the interview released by ABC, Obama said bank executives should make sacrifices because so many other people are struggling as the U.S. economy slips further. Some financial firms, including Goldman Sachs, the Swiss bank UBS and the British bank Barclays, have said they are not handing out annual bonuses to top executives, and Obama encouraged more to follow.

"I think that if you are already worth tens of millions of dollars, and you are having to lay off workers," Obama said, "the least you can do is say, 'I'm willing to make some sacrifice as well, because I recognize that there are people who are a lot less well off, who are going through some pretty tough times.'"

Obama also said the heads of the three auto companies who came to Washington asking for a bailout are a "little tone deaf" to what's going on in the country. It was the second time this week he has had harsh words for Ford Motor Co., Chrysler LLC and General Motors Corp. The struggling companies are pressing Congress for $25 billion in government loans.

During a news conference Monday, Obama said the Big Three may deserve some assistance, but taxpayers cannot be expected to blindly support an auto industry "that has been resistant to change."

As for his new life in the White House, Obama said one change he is resisting is having to give up his beloved BlackBerry.

A president's e-mail may be subject to public records laws and can be subpoenaed by Congress and the courts. It may also be a security risk for him to carry a traceable cell phone.

Giving it up, Obama said, "is a problem." During the campaign, he was often spotted thumbing the device and was known as a bit of a BlackBerry addict.

He said he is working with the Secret Service, lawyers and White House staff to find a solution.

"I'm negotiating to figure out how can I get information from outside of the ten or 12 people who surround my office in the White House," he said. "Because one of the worst things I think that could happen to a president is losing touch with what people are going through day to day."

Copyright 2008 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


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