Friday, November 7, 2008

Obama Scheduled to Meet With His Economic Team

Barack Obama will meet his economic team on Friday (listed below) and hold his first news conference since becoming U.S. president-elect as the country awaits signs of how he might tackle the economic crisis.

Obama faced pressure to announce his picks for key economic jobs, including Treasury secretary, though there were no indications of when he might do so.

On Wall Street, stocks closed sharply lower for a second day on Thursday. The Dow Jones tumbled 443.48 points (4.85%), after Wednesday when the Dow had the biggest fall ever on the day after a presidential election.

Though the timing of the Treasury secretary announcement was uncertain, names being considered for the job included Timothy Geithner, president of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, former Treasury Secretary Lawrence Summers and former Federal Reserve Chairman Paul Volcker.

Summers and Volcker were on the 17-member transition economic advisory board who will meet with Obama on Friday, a statement from the transition office said.

Obama made his first key appointment by naming U.S. Rep. Rahm Emanuel of Illinois, a brash veteran of President Bill Clinton's White House known for his take-no-prisoners style, as his chief of staff.

"I announce this appointment first because the chief of staff is central to the ability of a president and administration to accomplish an agenda," Obama said in a statement. "And no one I know is better at getting things done than Rahm Emanuel."

The choice was quickly criticized by Republicans who accused Obama of reneging on his campaign promise that he would bring change to Washington and reach across the aisle to bridge divides between the parties.

"This is an ironic choice for a president-elect who has promised to change Washington, make politics more civil, and govern from the center," House Republican Leader John Boehner of Ohio said.

But not all Republicans viewed the appointment harshly. South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham, a close ally of Republican White House candidate John McCain, negotiated the terms of the presidential debates with Emanuel and said they made quick progress.

"This is a wise choice by President-elect Obama," Graham said. "Rahm knows Capitol Hill and has great political skills. He can be a tough partisan but also understands the need to work together. He is well-suited for the position."

Aides would not say if there would be any announcements about administration jobs at the news conference.

Bush pledged to do all he could to ensure a smooth transition before Obama takes the oath of office on January 20.

"Over the next 75 days all of us must ensure that the next president and his team can hit the ground running," Bush said at the White House. Bush said he would discuss policy issues ranging from the financial markets to the war in Iraq with Obama next week.

Obama said he and his wife Michelle looked forward to meeting Bush on Monday to start the transition process.

"I thank him for reaching out in the spirit of bipartisanship that will be required to meet the many challenges we face as a nation," Obama said in a statement.

Obama went to the FBI building in Chicago on Thursday for a top-secret intelligence briefing. As president-elect he will now be receiving president-level daily briefings from top intelligence officials.

Analysts expect Obama to begin putting together a strategy for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Concern that al Qaeda may try to test a new administration may also lend urgency to assembling the national security team quickly.

On the Treasury decision, a Reuters poll of economists found 26 of 48 respondents thought Geithner would be chosen for the job, while Summers came second with 14 votes.

Whoever takes the Treasury job will guide the $700 billion economic bailout package and the regulatory reform needed to prevent a repeat of the current crisis.

In addition to Summers, Geithner and Volcker, the short list for Treasury included Laura Tyson, who chaired Clinton's Council of Economic Advisers.

Obama's Economic Advisory Board

President-elect Obama will meet with his transition economic advisory board on Friday. Vice President-elect Joe Biden will also attend the meeting.

Below is a list of meeting participants:
  • David Bonior, a Michigan representative to the U.S. House of Representatives from 1977 to 2003
  • Warren Buffett, chairman and CEO of Berkshire Hathaway (participating via speakerphone)
  • Roel Campos, former SEC commissioner
  • William Daley, chairman in the U.S. Midwest for JP Morgan Chase and secretary of commerce from 1997 to July 2000
  • William Donaldson, former SEC chairman from 2003 to June 2005
  • Roger Ferguson, president and CEO of retirement fund TIAA-CREF and former vice chairman of the Federal Reserve board of governors
  • Jennifer Granholm, Michigan governor
  • Anne Mulcahy, chairman and CEO of Xerox
  • Richard Parsons, chairman of Time Warner Inc.
  • Penny Pritzker, CEO of Classic Residence by Hyatt
  • Robert Reich, University of California professor and labor secretary from 1993 to 1997
  • Robert Rubin, chairman and director of the Executive Committee of Citigroup, treasury secretary from 1995 to 1999
  • Eric Schmidt, chairman and CEO of Google Inc.
  • Lawrence Summers, former president of Harvard University, managing director of D.E. Shaw and treasury secretary from 1999 to 2000
  • Laura Tyson, professor at Haas School of Business, University of California, served as chairman of the National Economic Council in 1995 and 1996, chairman of the President's Council of Economic Advisors from 1993 to 1995
  • Antonio Villaraigosa, mayor of Los Angeles
  • Paul Volcker, chairman of the U.S. Federal Reserve from August 1979 to August 1987
Source: Reuters

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