President Barack Obama wagered significant political capital, signaling opposition to a highly popular congressional drive to slap a punitive 90 percent tax on bonuses to big earners at financial institutions already deeply in debt to taxpayers.
Obama defended his stand by saying the tax, passed quickly in the House of Representatives last week, would be unconstitutional and that he would not "govern out of anger." He declared his determination, nevertheless, to make Wall Street understand it must shed "the old way of doing business."
In a wide ranging interview broadcast Sunday night, Obama also acknowledged surprise at how quickly the U.S. economy crumbled between his November election and January inauguration.
"I don't think that we anticipated how steep the decline would be," he said in the "60 Minutes" interview on CBS television. "That slope is a lot steeper than anything that we've said - we've seen before."