With more people losing
their jobs, plummeting stock prices and further declines in the housing market,
President-elect Barack Obama held a series of press conferences last week to show
that his administration will "hit the ground running."
tackles the economy first
For the important position of Treasury
Secretary, Mr. Obama nominated Timothy Geithner, president of the Federal Reserve
Bank in New York. Lawrence Summers, a highly respected Harvard economist
who got into trouble several years ago for questioning why more women are not
succeeding at math and science, will head the White House Economic Council.
Obama chose New York Federal Reserve president Tim Geithner to be his Treasury
Secretary, an appointment that must be approved by the Senate.
naming a team deeply experienced in dealing with financial crises --Geithner was
heavily involved in the efforts to stabilize one of the nation's largest banks,
Citigroup-- Mr. Obama emphasized his determination to help Americans regain confidence
in the economy.
"With our economy in distress, we cannot hesitate
and we cannot delay. Our families can't afford to keep on waiting and hoping for
a solution. They can't afford to watch another month of unpaid bills pile up,
another semester of tuition slip out of reach, another month where, instead of
saving for retirement, they're dipping into their savings just to get by,"
Obama relies on many from Clinton years
Many of the top posts are being filled
by people who were in the Clinton White House from 1993 to 2001, and while the
choices have been widely praised, some experts point out that mistakes were made
during that period.
Many bureaucrats who served under President Bill Clinton's term, from 1993 to
2001, will now serve in the Obama administration.
"They're very competent people, very experienced people,
but at the same time that experience means they've been to some extent implicated
in the problems that got us here," Dean Baker of the Center for Economic
and Policy Research said on the NewsHour.
taking Larry Summers as one example, he was a supporter of the financial deregulation
that, you know, helped to fuel the housing bubble. I should point out he also
didn't think that financial asset bubbles like the stock bubble and housing bubble
were a big problem," Baker said.
But conservative New York Times columnist
David Brooks is impressed by the new president's choices.
other president has had a coterie of people around them from the time they were
governor or something else that they bring to town either from Arkansas or Texas
or wherever. Obama, because he's so new and inexperienced, doesn't have
that coterie. So he really is not picking cronies. He really is picking people
who are indisputably qualified," Brooks said on the NewsHour.
in the Cabinet
Meanwhile, Mr. Obama has chosen Sen.
Hillary Clinton as Secretary of State, the chief envoy to other countries and
lead adviser on foreign policy issues.
President-elect Obama has asked Senator Hillary Clinton to be his Secretary of
State, one of the most important Cabinet positions.
While analysts such as Brooks say Clinton
would make a very good head of the State Department, the move is attracting strong
attention because the two often had heated debates over foreign policy during
the Democratic primaries.
He often criticized her for supporting the Iraq
War and she called his proposal to meet with the leaders of Iran and Venezuela
Taking cues from Lincoln and FDR
President-elect Obama's Cabinet choices
have created a flurry of speculation that the president-elect is using lessons
inspired by a past president that he often cites as a role model: Abraham Lincoln.
President-elect Obama said that President Abraham Lincoln, who included his main
political rivals in his Cabinet, is one of his role models.
In a recent CBS interview, the president-elect said he's been spending a lot
of time reading up on Lincoln, and that he was finishing reading Doris Kearns
Goodwin's 2005 book "Team of Rivals."
That book tells the story
of how Lincoln, after a hard fought, often-bitter campaign, chose for his cabinet
some of the very men who had battled so hard to win the presidency themselves--in
part as a way of controlling them, but also to learn from their differing perspectives.
"There is a wisdom there and a humility about his approach to government,
even before he was president, that I just find very helpful," Obama said.
When asked whether he would be willing to put political enemies in his
Cabinet as Lincoln did, Obama responded, "Well, I tell you what, I find him
a very wise man."
Mr. Obama also said he is taking cues from Franklin
"There's a new book out about FDR's first 100 days
and what you see in FDR that I hope my team can -- emulate, is not always getting
it right, but projecting a sense of confidence, and a willingness to try things.
And experiment in order to get people working again," he said.
first 100 days in office, FDR introduced 15 major pieces of legislation and created
dozens of federal programs called "the alphabet agencies" such as the
NRA, the WPA, the CCC, the PWA -- all part of the New Deal.