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For the third straight day, President-elect Barack Obama addressed the economy. He held another news conference this morning in Chicago. And Mr. Obama announced more members of his economic team. From Chicago, NPR's David Schaper reports.
DAVID SCHAPER: In an effort to send yet another signal that he and his economic team are on top of the nation's economic crisis and ready to hit the ground running when he is sworn into office, President-elect Obama said today he is creating a new economic recovery advisory board to be chaired by former Federal Reserve Board Chairman Paul Volcker. His long-time economic adviser Austan Goolsbee, a University of Chicago economist, will serve as the White House Staff Director to the panel.
Modeled after the president's Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board, Mr. Obama says he wants this board to include business, labor, and economic leaders from outside of government to provide a fresh perspective and new ideas.
BARACK OBAMA: The reality is that sometimes, policy-making in Washington can become a little bit too ingrown, a little bit too insular. The walls of the echo chamber can sometimes keep out fresh voices and new ways of thinking.
SCHAPER: In turning to the 81-year-old Volcker to chair this economic advisory board, President-elect Obama is bringing back to Washington the Fed chairman first appointed by President Carter and who served through much of the Reagan years, another period of painful recession that was followed by an economic boom.
The announcement comes on the heels of Mr. Obama's appointments Monday and Tuesday of a handful of former Clinton administration officials to his economic team, leading to some criticism that the Obama administration will look more like a blast from the past than one of the change that candidate Obama campaigned on. President-elect Obama told reporters today that's not the case.
OBAMA: I suspect that you would be troubled and the American people would be troubled if I selected a treasury secretary or a chairman of the national economic council at one of the most tough economic times in our history who have no experience in government whatsoever. What we are going to do is combine experience with fresh thinking.
SCHAPER: In tackling the economy and taking reporters' questions again today, President-elect Obama is seeking to reassure Americans amidst more bad news. Figures released by the government today show unemployment claims remain high while consumer spending and factory orders both fell sharply.
OBAMA: There is no doubt that during tough economic times, family budgets are going to be pinched. I think it is important for the American people, though, to have confidence that we've gone through recessions before, we've gone through difficult times before, that my administration intends to get this economy back on track.
SCHAPER: Mr. Obama then added this.
OBAMA: People should understand that help is on the way.
SCHAPER: As Americans head into the most important retail season of the year, President-elect Obama says the nation will get through these difficult times, though he repeated his warning that there are challenging days ahead. David Schaper, NPR News, Chicago.
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