Monday, November 24, 2008

Obama's Economic Leadership Team to be Unveiled

President-elect Obama is planning a press conference today to introduce the leaders of his economic team, which is headed by Harvard economist Larry Summers, who will run the White House National Economic Council, and New York Federal Reserve Bank President Timothy Geithner, his choice for Treasury secretary.

The president-elect is likely to use the event to assure investors and consumers that he will take rapid, large-scale action in the coming weeks and months. The message will be: "This is an extraordinary time, and extraordinary responses are going to be needed."

At the news conference, President-elect Obama will likely offer for the first time an explicit pledge to honor all commitments already made by the Bush administration in the TARP program, without imposing new conditions even if there are changes are made to the program in the future. Obama officials also say the president-elect will promise to find spending cuts to try to keeps short-term stimulus spending from exploding the budget deficit even more than it already has over the long term.

Since winning the presidency, Obama has expressed reluctance to begin steering economic policy, repeatedly saying the country can have only one president at a time. Large-scale economic stimulus is all but impossible before Obama takes office, since Bush has said he would oppose big new spending plans before he leaves the White House.

But President-elect Obama and his team have in recent days indicated fairly explicitly that a considerable boost to the economy will come as soon as he takes office. While Obama advisers have so far declined to detail publicly just how large the stimulus would be, there have been credible reports calling for a $500 to $700 billion stimulus package that would be injected directly into the economy.

Democratic leaders in Congress are preparing to hurry passage shortly after New Year's to have a stimulus-plan bill ready for Mr. Obama to sign once he is inaugurated Jan. 20.

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