Looks Like It's Time To Measure The Drapes

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It's been less than one week since Barack Obama won the presidential election. He meets with President Bush at the White House on Monday, and they are expected to discuss the economy, the war in Iraq and the transition of power. Obama and his wife, Michelle, also will tour the White House.


This is Morning Edition from NPR News. I'm Ari Shapiro filling in for Steve Inskeep.


And I'm Renee Montagne. President-elect Barack Obama and his wife, Michelle, will visit the White House today where they'll be welcomed by current residents George and Laura Bush. In a moment, we'll hear what the Obama family can expect in their new home. What the country can expect from its next president was outlined yesterday by his aides on the Sunday talk shows. Joining us, as she does most Mondays, is NPR news analyst Cokie Roberts. Good morning.

COKIE ROBERTS: Good morning, Renee.

MONTAGNE: And we heard yesterday from both President-elect Obama's new chief of staff and also the man who is leading his transition team, and they talked about another economic stimulus.

ROBERTS: Clearly members of this new team are ready to go full speed ahead with another economic stimulus package and called on Congress to act quickly. Here is the designated chief of staff, Rahm Emanuel, on ABC's "This Week."

(Soundbite of TV show "This Week")

Representative RAHM EMANUEL (Democrat, Illinois): There's an economic recovery package in front of Congress. Washington should get it done. I think the economic news, as the president-elect had said, this week both retail sales and unemployment indicate we have a crisis here. There's not time to waste. Let's get on with helping the American people.

ROBERTS: He says that Congress should extend unemployment benefits, give assistance to states that are having trouble paying for their Medicaid - that's the health care program for the poor - and he was clear that the auto industry should also have a substantial bailout. And then from the perspective of a former chief of staff himself, John Podesta, the head of the transition team, reminded us that a new president doesn't have to wait for Congress for everything, that he can do a lot with executive orders.

MONTAGNE: Now those executive orders, the president can actually undo them. And Podesta elaborated on which ones would be targeted. Tell us about that.

ROBERTS: Well, he says he's reviewing all of the Bush administration orders and seeing what should be kept and repealed. He accused the administration, even at this late date, as he put it, of moving aggressively in areas like oil drilling in sensitive areas of Utah. And so that is one that he implied that he would be willing to see undone. Also, anything banning federal funding for stem cell research is another area where he said he could act quickly.

And Obama himself over the weekend on a Saturday radio program talked about how - that he wanted to make sure that, quote, "We hit the ground running, January 20, because we don't have a moment to lose." Of course, that's a funny term for him to use because this is the one that his opponents used against him, that they were ready to hit the ground running.

MONTAGNE: Well, of course, Senator Obama can't deal with these executive orders until he is actually president, he would know well. But what can he do now?

ROBERTS: Well, of course, the main thing he can do now is name people - name people to a cabinet in waiting and name people to his staff. And we are led to believe that he will be naming some more people this week, although not cabinet-level people, people for positions inside his administration, like Emanuel who we've already heard about. And Podesta did say that he felt strongly that the president wanted to have a very diverse group of people. That is something that President Bush put a big emphasis on and actually succeeded in.

MONTAGNE: Cokie, these choices that Senator Obama is making now, what are they telling us about what we can expect from an Obama administration?

ROBERTS: Well, it's very interesting, Renee. Of course, the main one is Rahm Emanuel, the congressman from Chicago as chief of staff. And that has gotten mixed reviews. You have John Boehner, the Republican leader in Congress, saying this means that Obama's going to be confrontational and partisan. But the number-two Republican, or former number-two Republican, Roy Blunt, saying, no, he's a guy I can get along with. We've worked well together. And some Democratic leaders in Congress are worrying that this means that Emanuel is likely to override them in terms of influence with the president. And also the people surrounding them at this press conference on Friday also sent sort of mixed messages on economic policy.

MONTAGNE: Cokie, thanks very much. NPR's Cokie Roberts.

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