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Asian Tribune is published by World Institute For Asian Studies|Powered by WIAS Vol. 12 No. 2642

Obama Proposes 2.5 Million Jobs for a Thriving Wall Street and Main Street

By Philip Fernando for Asian Tribune

Los Angeles, ( President-elect Barack Obama named key members of his administration's economic team Monday, including New York Federal Reserve President Timothy Geithner as his Treasury Secretary nominee and former Harvard President Lawrence Summers as the director of the National Economic Council. The team will immediately work on economic revival amidst the unprecedented downturn in the economy. Creating 2.5 million jobs would be the main goal. Many analysts believe that the team would bring fresh thinking, both a depth of experience and a wealth of bold, new ideas. Obama said that they all share his fundamental belief that there cannot have a thriving Wall Street without a thriving Main Street," at a press conference Monday in Chicago.

Obama's announcement came hours after the federal government announced a massive rescue package for Citigroup. President Bush said he'd spoken with Obama about before it was announced. The Obama team is working closely with those at the helm to bring about a smooth transition.

Many believe that mission No. 1 over the next few weeks for Obama's economic team will be hammering out the details of what the president-elect described this weekend as a two-year economic recovery plan intended to create 2.5 million jobs within two years or so. The team is expected to work on a multi-year stimulus package range as high as $500 billion to $700 billion. The new Congress will present that package before January 20th next year. At the center of the plan are investments in the nation's roads, bridges, schools and alternative-energy infrastructure.

Obama's top economic team member - his Treasury Secretary - will also be charged with overseeing the dispersal of funds from the controversial $700 billion financial rescue package that Congress passed in October. As the news of his economic team surfaced last Friday and this Monday stocks went soaring high close to 900 points.

Geithner, highly respected both on Wall Street and in the Capitol's corridors, has already been playing a central role in the Treasury's and Federal Reserve's efforts to stabilize the financial system. His nomination is expected to provide the kind of continuity in the Treasury's financial rescue efforts that will be welcome in the markets and among lawmakers. Obama described Geithner as having "served with distinction under both Democrats and Republicans and has a long history of working comfortably and as an honest broker on both sides of the aisle."

In a statement issued Monday afternoon, Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson said, "I have the highest regard for Tim --his judgment and creativity have been critical to designing and implementing the necessary actions we've taken to protect and strengthen our financial system. I have great confidence in his understanding of markets, his judgment and leadership, and his ability to meet the challenges that lie ahead." President Bush said Monday morning that Paulson is working closely with the Obama transition team to ensure a seamless transfer.

As the head of Obama's National Economic Council, Summers will coordinate economic policy-making and economic policy advice for the president. Summers, who turns 54 this month, is considered one of the country's most pre-eminent economists, and he served as Treasury Secretary for two years during the Clinton administration. "As a thought leader, Larry has urged us to confront the problems of income inequality and the middle-class squeeze, consistently arguing that the key to a strong economy is a strong, vibrant, growing middle class," Obama said of Summers. "This idea is at the core of my own economic philosophy and will be the foundation of all of my economic policies."

Summers is, however, also a controversial economist, whose critics believe that he supported positions that helped foster the current financial crisis. They cite, among other things, his support for the Commodity Futures Modernization Act, which allowed many derivatives - such as the credit default swaps that have rocked markets this fall - to go unregulated.

Obama also announced that economist Christina Romer will be director his Council of Economic Advisors, which provides economic analysis and advice to the president. Romer, whose expertise includes the Great Depression and the economic recovery that followed, is a professor of economics at the University of California, Berkeley. She is also co-director of the monetary economics program and a member of the business cycle dating committee at the National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER), the group that officially determines when U.S. recessions begin and end.

In Romer, Obama said, he has found an independent economist respected by both conservatives and liberals who has done "groundbreaking research on many of the topics our administration will confront, from tax policy to fighting recessions."

Lastly, Obama named Melody Barnes to be the director of his Domestic Policy Council (DPC), which he said will focus in part on healthcare reform as part of his economic recovery plan. Before joining Obama's transition team, Barnes was executive vice president for policy at the Center for American Progress, where her focus was on policies to help middle-class families. She also served as chief counsel to Sen. Edward Kennedy, D-Mass., on the Senate Judiciary Committee. Melody's brilliant legal mind and her long experience working to secure the liberties on which this nation was founded, as well as to secure the opportunities for those who've been left behind, make her a perfect fit for DPC director," Obama said.

With the big stimulus to be signed quickly Obama plans to boost the economy through investing in infrastructure and energy initiatives. Several other measures are expected as well. Among some of the possibilities discussed: direct federal aid to states and cities, tax cuts for low- and middle-income Americans, increased food stamp payments, and a tax credit for businesses that create new jobs in the United States.

Whatever Obama and his economic team ultimately decide to include in the economic recovery package, it's expected that Congress will have the final legislation ready for the president-elect's signature the day he's inaugurated.

- Asian Tribune -

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