Obama picks another Clintonite as economic pointman

November 23rd, 2008 - 10:33 pm ICT by IANS  

Barack ObamaWashington, Nov 23 (IANS) US president-elect Barack Obama has turned to former treasury secretary Lawrence Summers, another Clintonite, to be his closest economic adviser inside the White House to spearhead the fight against the global financial crisis.The Harvard University economist will be named director of his National Economic Council to shape Obama’s response to the crisis along with New York Federal Reserve president Timothy Geithner as treasury secretary, a post that Summers held under then president Bill Clinton.

Media reports citing Democratic sources said at an event in Chicago Monday Obama plans to introduce Summers, Geithner, and the rest of his economic team to tackle the worst economic mess since the Great Depression after he takes over Jan 20.

Summers, 53, was central to his campaign’s economic team and is now leading efforts to draft a massive economic stimulus plan the president-elect hopes to sign into law as one of his first acts as the nation’s leader.

Geithner, 47, will lead the United States’ $700 billion bailout plan for the financial industry.

Both men command wide respect in financial markets. US stock prices, which were pummeled most of last week, rallied more than six percent Friday after word leaked out that Geithner appeared set to take the helm at Treasury.

Obama has instructed his economic advisers to draft a stimulus that could dwarf the $175 billion version he campaigned on, stretching it over two years and pushing to create 2.5 million new jobs with it, the Wall Street Journal reported Sunday.

The plan, with its extended time horizon, could also push back planned tax increases on families earning over $250,000 from a planned 2010 start date to 2011, when they are set to expire in current law, it said citing economists familiar with the effort.

“I have already directed my economic team to come up with an Economic Recovery Plan that will mean 2.5 million more jobs by January of 2011 - a plan big enough to meet the challenges we face that I intend to sign soon after taking office,” Obama said in his Saturday radio address.

The plan he campaigned on was supposed to be large enough to create one million new jobs, though aides cautioned a final price tag could not be determined simply by more than doubling the initial $175 billion figure.

Experts have called for economic infusions anywhere from $300 billion to $500 billion, a range that Obama aides are working within.

Meanwhile, the Obama transition team Saturday announced several key appointments to his communications team.

While Robert Gibbs, an Obama campaign spokesman who also has acted as spokesman for the transition, will become Obama’s press secretary - one of the most highly visible roles in the administration, Ellen Moran, the executive director of Emily’s List, will serve as Obama’s communications director.

Dan Pfeiffer, current communications director with the transition team, will be Obama’s deputy communications director. He began work with the Obama campaign in January 2007 as traveling press secretary before returning to Chicago to work as communications director.

“These individuals will fill essential roles, and bring a breadth and depth of experience that can help our administration advance prosperity and security for the American people,” Obama said in a written statement.

“This dedicated and impressive group of public servants includes longtime advisors and a talented new addition to our team, and together we will work to serve our country and meet the challenges of this defining moment in history.”

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