Obama unveils economic team
(AP) - With the economy in crisis, President-electBarack Obama called on the new Congress to act quickly in passing acostly stimulus package to create jobs as a follow-up to thehundreds of billions of dollars the Bush administration hascommitted to rescue financial markets.
"The economy is likely to get worse before it gets better,"Obama said in a downbeat forecast, delivered 57 days before hetakes the oath of office and with Americans heading into theyear-end holiday season.
"Most experts now believe that we could lose millions of jobsnext year," he said, urging the newly elected Congress to actquickly on his plans after opening its session on Jan. 6.
At a news conference, Obama was critical of the Big Threeautomakers, saying he was surprised they did not have abetter-thought-out plan for their future before asking Congress toapprove $25 billion in emergency loans.
He said once he sees a plan, he expects "we're going to be ableto shape a rescue."
Obama declined to say how large a stimulus package he wants fromCongress. Democratic lawmakers speculated over the weekend that theprice tag could reach $700 billion over two years as the nationstruggles to emerge from a recession compounded by a credit crunch."It's going to be costly," the president-elect said.
Obama made his comments as he unveiled the top members of hiseconomic team, beginning with New York Federal Reserve PresidentTim Geithner to be his treasury secretary. Geithner, 47, is aveteran of financial crises at home and overseas and has workedclosely with the Bush administration in recent months.
Obama chose Lawrence Summers as director of his NationalEconomic Council. Summers was treasury secretary under formerPresident Bill Clinton.
Obama said his newly minted economic team offered "soundjudgment and fresh thinking" at a time of economic peril.
He expressed confidence the nation would weather the crisis"because we've done it before."
Obama also announced two other members of his economic team inthe making. He named Christina Romer as chair of his Council ofEconomic Advisers, and Melody Barnes as director of his White HouseDomestic Policy Council.
Obama's principal theme was urgency.
"We do not have a minute to waste," he said, citing theturmoil in the financial markets as well as the deterioration ofthe broader economy.
He also said he would "honor the commitments made by thecurrent administration" to deal with the problems, signalingapproval of the Bush administration's latest effort to rescueCitigroup as well as the broader $700 billion bailout designed toshore up the financial markets.
Bush said earlier in the day that the government's dramaticrescue of Citigroup was necessary to "safeguard the financialsystem" and help the economy recover, and he said there could bemore such moves if other institutions need help.
"We have made these kind of decisions in the past. We made onelast night. And if need be we will make these kind of decisions tosafeguard our financial system in the future," Bush said.
As a candidate, Obama was a supporter of the $700 billionbailout measure.