WASHINGTON (CNN) - President Barack Obama said Sunday that the heads of America's largest banks told him they recognize the need to cut back on large bonuses in the wake of massive federal bailouts for the country's troubled financial sector.
But "the proof of the pudding's in the eating," he added during an appearance on CBS's "Face the Nation."
"I expect to see that restraint operate. ... It's very difficult for me as president to call on the American people to make sacrifices to help shore up the financial system if there's no sense of mutual obligation ... and mutual help."
Obama met the heads of the country's largest banks at the White House on Friday.
He said he told them that "for the average single mom who is just barely struggling to pay her mortgage - or medical bills for her kid - who's paying her taxes, who's playing by the rules and then finds out that a taxpayer-assisted firm is paying out multi-million dollar bonuses, that's just not acceptable. Show some restraint ... show that you get that this is a crisis and everybody has to make sacrifices."
Obama added, however, that people need to understand that any nationwide economic recovery will ultimately depend on a recovery on Wall Street as well.
"Now, the flip side is ... we're not going to get this recovery if we don't see a recovery of the financial sector," he said. "And there's no separation between Main Street and Wall Street. We're all in this together. And it's my job to help keep that focus as we move forward."