Obama unveils economic team, backs Bush approach to crisis

November 25th, 2008 - 12:11 pm ICT by IANS  

Barack ObamaWashington, Nov 25 (IANS) Vowing to “jolt this economy back into shape”, US president-elect Barack Obama has said he and the Bush administration are “united” in their efforts to deal with a financial crisis of “historic proportions”.As Obama unveiled his economic team “with the vision and expertise to stabilise our economy, create jobs, and get America back on track”, he said there isn’t “a minute to waste” when it comes to rebuilding the economy.

“My commitment is to do what is required. President (George) Bush has indicated that he has the same approach, the same attitude,” Obama said Monday at a news conference in Chicago, Illinois.

Obama’s remarks came just hours after the US government announced a massive rescue package for Citigroup, which Bush said he’d spoken about with Obama before it was announced.

It was the first public endorsement of Bush administration’s response to the economic crisis from Obama who has expressed reluctance to begin steering economic policy, repeatedly saying the country can have only one president at a time.

In selecting his economic team, Obama said he sought leaders who share his fundamental belief that “we cannot have a thriving Wall Street without a thriving Main Street”.

As anticipated, Obama selected New York Federal Reserve President Tim Geithner as treasury secretary and former treasury secretary Larry Summers as chief of the National Economic Council.

Economist Christina Romer will lead the Council of Economic Advisors and Melody Barnes will be director of the Domestic Policy Council.

Obama said that he has asked his newly formed economic team to develop recommendations for his economic recovery plan to create 2.5 million jobs by 2011, and to consult with Congress, the current administration and the Federal Reserve on immediate economic developments over the next two months.

Details of the plan are still being worked out by his economic team, Obama said, but he hopes to sign the two-year, nationwide plan shortly after taking office Jan 20.

Obama declined to speculate about how large the stimulus package would need to be, saying it’s important for his economic team to come back with a recommendation.

“We have to make sure that the stimulus is significant enough that it really gives a jolt to the economy,” he said. “We are going to do what’s required to jolt this economy back into shape,” he said.

“I want to see it enacted right away,” Obama said. “It is going to be of a size and scope that is necessary to get this economy back on track.”

He added: “With our economy in distress, we cannot hesitate or delay. The economy is likely to get worse before it gets better. Full recovery won’t happen immediately.

“These extraordinary stresses on our financial system require extraordinary policy responses,” Obama said.

Obama said he’s not ready to say whether the crisis would prompt him to let tax cuts for wealthy Americans expire on schedule rather than be repealed.

“If we’re going to help pay for some of these expenditures that are absolutely necessary to get our economy back on track… (let) those who are in a position to pay a little bit more do so,” he said.

“Whether that’s done through repeal or whether that’s done because the Bush tax cuts are not renewed is something that my economic team will be providing me a recommendation on.”

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