Obama names Geithner to Treasury

US President-elect names economic team; says it will continually prepare ahead of inauguration so that it can "hit the ground running."

obama economy 248.88 (photo credit: )
obama economy 248.88
(photo credit: )
President-elect Barack Obama named his economic team Monday, tapping New York Federal Reserve President Tim Geithner as treasury secretary to deal "an economic crisis of historic proportions." At a news conference 57 days before his inauguration, Obama also said Lawrence Summers would be director of his National Economic Council. Summers was treasury secretary under former President Bill Clinton and a former president of Harvard University. Obama said that recent news "has made it even more clear that we are facing an economic crisis of historic proportions." Offering a grim prediction, he added, "Most experts now believe that we could lose millions of jobs next year." He said his newly named economic team offered "sound judgment and fresh thinking" at a time of economic peril. Obama stepped to the microphones one day after his aides urged the incoming Democratic-controlled Congress to work with unusual speed in passing an economic stimulus package. Some lawmakers have said a measure in the range of $700 billion over two years may be passed, in hopes of achieving the president-elect's goal of securing 2.5 million jobs. Obama takes the oath of office on Jan. 20 as the nation's 44th president, and will confront economic difficulties as great as any since the Great Depression in the 1930s. Congress begins its work on Jan. 6. "The economy is likely to get worse before it gets better," he said in a downbeat forecast, delivered as Americans head into the year-end holiday season. At the same time, he expressed confidence the nation would weather the crisis "because we've done it before." He called on Congress to start work on an aggressive plan when it is sworn in January, so that his administration can, as he put it, "hit the ground running." Obama wants action that will stabilize the financial system and get credit flowing, as well as create jobs in areas including rebuilding infrastructure and creating clean energy. The emphasis on the economy began Saturday when Obama outlined the framework to save or create 2.5 million jobs by the end of 2010. The scope of the recovery package is far more ambitious than Obama had spelled out during his presidential campaign, when he proposed $175 billion of spending and tax-cutting stimulus. The new plan will be significantly larger and incorporate his campaign ideas for new jobs in environmentally friendly technologies _ the "green economy." It also would include his proposals for tax relief for middle- and lower-income workers.