Obama is announcing his new economic team — no surprises or anything huge; Geithner to Treasury, Summers as top econ advisor — but what we’re struck by is how much more confident and comfortable sounds than Bush. He hasn’t even started the job, but his ease with speaking in public is already reassuring. We’ll update as announcements warrant. Use the comments for an open thread on your thoughts.
12:12: Christina Romer will head up the Council of Economic Advisors. Praises her study of the Great Depression and respect among conservatives and Liberals. Here’s more on her from Marginal Revolution.
12:14: Introduces Melody Barnes, new head of Domestic Policy Council
12:15: Fixing the economy is a top priority and “that work starts today”. From here on, this is Obama’s economy.
12:17: Hopes Congress will work on aggressive economic recovery plan right away in January.
Question: How quickly will we see a plan, and where’s the money going to come from?
Obama: Want to see it right away. Won’t get into numbers. Also, no answer on where the money will come from (but we’re guessing the answer is the printing presses).
Question: Tax plan?Will you wait until the Bush tax cuts expire at the end of 2010?
Obama: As I said during the campaign, my plan is a net tax cut. “What I’ve also said, during the campaign, we’ve got to restore some balance to our tax code. The Bush tax cuts were disproportionally targeted towards the wealthiest… it’s important those who are in a position to pay a little bit more, do so.” No actual answer on whether they’ll be repealed or expired. This is big, since there was some hope that in light of the economy, Obama would go back on plans to raise taxes on people making more than $250,000. The Dow is now falling, following the comments, though it’s still up over 196.
Short term: we’ve got to focus on boosting the economy and creating 2.5 million jobs. Part and parcel is creating a sustainable budgetary scheme.
Question: Auto rescue package?
Obama: Auto industry is the backbone of American manufacturing. We can’t allow the auto industry to vanish… we’ve got to make sure that it is there, and that the workers and suppliers stay in business. We can’t just write a blank check to the auto industry.” Surprised that the Big Three heads didn’t have a better thought out proposal. Congress did the right thing.
Last question: Something inaudible about the TARP.
Obama: We have to keep the financial system going. “My commitment is to do what’s required.” He says he has the same approach and attitude that Bush has. That’s got to be reassuring.
12:33: Done. No stimulus announcement. The big news was that he won’t immediately put tax-hike plans on hold.
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