Obama names Geithner new treasury secretary

Lawrence Summers, a treasury secretary under former President Clinton, to coordinate the federal response to the economic meltdown.

obama serious 248.88 (photo credit: AP)
obama serious 248.88
(photo credit: AP)
President-elect Barack Obama turned his focus to the teetering US economy, as he outlined a plan to create 2.5 million jobs and transition officials said he would name on Monday a respected Federal Reserve official to the post of treasury secretary. If confirmed by the Senate, Timothy Geithner, 47, president of the New York Federal Reserve, would be the top Cabinet official in charge of leading the administration's response to the global economic crisis. Word of his likely selection Friday helped send the Dow Jones Industrials soaring 500 points after several days of steep losses. Obama also will name Lawrence Summers, a treasury secretary under former President Bill Clinton and the former president of Harvard University, to coordinate the federal response to the economic meltdown across several agencies, transition officials said Saturday. Officials said that Geithner and Summers would appear with Obama at a press conference in Chicago on Monday morning. As director of the National Economic Council, Summers would help shepherd Obama's new recovery plan, which aims to create millions of new jobs rebuilding roads, modernizing schools and creating alternative energy sources by January 2011. Obama wants Congress to approve it quickly so he can sign it shortly after his inauguration on January 20. "These aren't just steps to pull ourselves out of this immediate crisis; these are the long-term investments in our economic future that have been ignored for far too long," Obama said in the weekly Democratic radio address on Saturday. He called the plan "big enough to meet the challenges we face" and said that it will jump-start job creation and lay the foundation for a strong economy. "We'll be working out the details in the weeks ahead, but it will be a two-year, nationwide effort to jump-start job creation in America and lay the foundation for a strong and growing economy," Obama said. The announcement of the appointments comes as Obama moves quickly to fill slots for his incoming administration. Also Saturday, Obama named longtime spokesman Robert Gibbs as White House press secretary. Gibbs went to work for Obama's Senate campaign in 2004 and was communications director while Obama was in the Senate. Geithner served as a Treasury Department official during the Clinton administration, where he played a major role in negotiating assistance packages for South Korea and Brazil. Obama's new director of communications will be Ellen Moran, who is executive director of the Washington women's political group EMILY's List. Moran will join a team of longtime close advisers who will work closely with Obama on a daily basis. Summers helped the Clinton administration in crafting the US support program for Mexico during its 1995 financial crisis. He later helped lead the US response to the Asian financial crisis of 1997. The president-elect is virtually certain to offer Congressional Budget Office chief Peter Orszag the job of directing the White House Office of Budget and Management, and Orszag is likely to accept, Democratic officials said Saturday. In his radio address Saturday, Obama acknowledged that evidence is growing the country is "facing an economic crisis of historic proportions." He noted turmoil on Wall Street, a decrease in new home purchases, growing jobless claims and the menacing problem of deflation. Obama said he was pleased Congress passed an extension of unemployment benefits this week, but added, "We must do more to put people back to work and get our economy moving again." He cautioned, "there are no quick or easy fixes to this crisis, which has been many years in the making, and it's likely to get worse before it gets better." But Obama said Inauguration Day "is our chance to begin anew." The Labor Department reported that claims for unemployment benefits jumped last week to the highest level since July 1992, providing fresh evidence of the weakening job market. If nominated and confirmed by the Senate, Geithner, would assume chief responsibility for tackling an economic slowdown and credit crunch that threaten to create the deepest recession in more than a generation.