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Shields and Brooks Probe Obama’s Economic, Transition Plans

Following President-elect Barack Obama's first post-election news conference, columnists Mark Shields and David Brooks assess his plans for the economy and his selection for chief of staff.

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  • JIM LEHRER:

    And to the analysis of Shields and Brooks, syndicated columnist Mark Shields, New York Times columnist David Brooks.

    David, overall, what did you think about that news conference and the way the president-elect handled it?

  • DAVID BROOKS, Columnist, New York Times:

    Four years of boring press conferences. When Bush was out there, you never knew what was happening, so it was sort of a little edge of excitement.

    He did a very good job of not committing himself to anything, no faux pas.

    I think he did send a few signals. The first most obvious is that he's not going to interfere too much in the stimulus packages, in the running of the country over the next couple of months.

  • JIM LEHRER:

    Lay low a little?

  • DAVID BROOKS:

    Right. As he said several times, there's only one president at a time.

    The second thing, the economy is number one. That was no surprise. And there was no surprise that he talked about how important the stimulus package is. That will take up — I think they expect within the Obama world that there will be a stimulus package before the inauguration.

    But even after the inauguration, they'll probably have to do a little more, just because the economy was so bad in the fourth quarter and the first quarter.

    And then the final thing — and this is in response to the final question that my colleague, Jeff Zeleny, asked, about the tax increases and the tax plan. I got the sense through the body language, though he didn't say it explicitly, that the idea of raising taxes on the top earners would be postponed.

    Because he seemed to talk about every other aspect of the tax plan, reducing the taxes on the middle class, but he didn't say, "We're also going to raise taxes on the affluent." And in a time of recession, personally I think that makes sense.