Obama Unveils Economic Team With the economy continuing to sputter, president-elect Barack Obama has held a news conference to announce his economic team. He said they would get to work immediately to craft an economic stimulus package big enough to jump-start the economy.
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Obama Unveils Economic Team

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Obama Unveils Economic Team

Obama Unveils Economic Team

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MELISSA BLOCK, host:

From NPR News, this is All Things Considered. I'm Melissa Block. The word at President-elect Barack Obama's news conference in Chicago today was jolt. As Mr. Obama announced his first appointments - four men and women who will lead his economic team - he spoke repeatedly of the need to, as he said, jolt the economy back into shape, and he charged his economic team with developing a stimulus package to pull the economy out of its slump. NPR's Scott Horsley was there in Chicago.

SCOTT HORSLEY: Barack Obama's first official Cabinet pick is Treasury secretary. Underscoring the importance of the post, his choice, Tim Geithner, will serve as the incoming administration's chief economic spokesman. Geithner is a Treasury veteran who speaks the language of international finance. More recently he served as president of the New York Federal Reserve Bank where Mr. Obama notes he's been deeply involved in efforts to prop up the struggling financial system.

(Soundbite of news conference)

President-elect BARACK OBAMA: Tim will waste no time getting up to speed. He will start his first day on the job with a unique insight into the failures of today's markets and a clear vision of the steps we must take to revive them.

HORSLEY: Geithner was one of two top candidates for the Treasury job along with his mentor, Larry Summers, who served as secretary under President Clinton. Although Summers isn't going back to Treasury, he will play a major role in the Obama White House as head of the National Economic Council.

(Soundbite of news conference)

President-elect OBAMA: As a thought leader, Larry has urged us to confront the problems of income inequality and the middle class squeeze, consistently arguing that the key to a strong economy is a strong, vibrant, growing middle class. This idea is at the core of my own economic philosophy and will be the foundation of all of my economic policies.

HORSLEY: At a news conference in Chicago today, Mr. Obama was flanked by two other members of his incoming economic team: Berkeley professor Christina Romer, who will chair his Council of Economic Advisers, and Melody Barnes, who will head the Domestic Policy Council.

(Soundbite of news conference)

President-elect OBAMA: I'm grateful that Tim, Larry, Christina, and Melody have accepted my nomination, and I am looking forward to working closely with them in the months ahead. That work starts today, because the truth is we do not have a minute to waste.

HORSLEY: Mr. Obama says the nation has been locked in a downward spiral in which turmoil on Wall Street spills over to Main Street businesses and back again. He's asked his economic team to get right to work on a plan to stimulate the economy and to keep him posted with daily updates.

(Soundbite of news conference)

President-elect OBAMA: It is my hope that the new Congress will begin work on an aggressive economic recovery plan when they convene in early January, so that our administration can hit the ground running.

HORSLEY: Mr. Obama would not put a price tag on the stimulus package, but Democrats in Congress have been talking about spending a half trillion dollars or more. Some time-tested campaign proposals for new roads or alternative energy are getting an extra dose of urgency now because of the economic slowdown.

(Soundbite of news conference)

President-elect OBAMA: We need a big stimulus package that will jolt the economy back into shape and that is focused on the 2.5 million jobs that I intend to create during the first part of my administration.

HORSLEY: Mr. Obama says mending the economy won't be easy, and he warned it's likely to get worse before it gets better. But with eight weeks to go before he takes office, the president-elect is trying to project an air of confidence and to show nervous Americans that help is on the way.

(Soundbite of news conference)

President-elect OBAMA: While we can't underestimate the challenges that we face, we also can't underestimate our capacity to overcome them, to summon that spirit of determination and optimism that has always defined us, and to move forward in a new direction to create new jobs, reform our financial system, and fuel long-term economic growth.

HORSLEY: The stock market rallied today, continuing the rebound that began last Friday after news of the new Treasury secretary leaked out. Scott Horsley, NPR News, Chicago.

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