Obama holds meeting, press conference on economy

The president-elect worked to calm Americans about the latest troubling economic news and at the same time made sure not to act like he's already been sworn in.

By Alex Koppelman

Published November 7, 2008 8:40PM (EST)

Tuesday, Barack Obama was elected president. Now comes the hard part.

With even more bad economic news out Friday, it was an opportune moment for Obama to have scheduled a summit with the members of Transition Economic Advisory Board. Afterward, flanked by Joe Biden and Rahm Emanuel and with most of the members of that board behind him, he held his first press conference as president-elect.

"This morning, we woke to more sobering news about the state of our economy. The 240,000 jobs lost in October marks the 10th consecutive month that our economy has shed jobs," Obama said, reading from prepared remarks to begin the press conference. "In total, we’ve lost nearly 1.2 million jobs this year, and more than 10 million Americans are now unemployed. Tens of millions of families are struggling to figure out how to pay the bills and stay in their homes. Their stories are an urgent reminder that we are facing the greatest economic challenges of our lifetime, and we must act swiftly to resolve them."

That said, though, he's not the president yet, and he made sure to remind reporters and others who might be watching of that fact. In fact, much of the press conference -- specifically the parts focusing on the economy -- was less than exciting, because Obama had to be so careful with his remarks. For one thing, he had to ensure that he didn't step on the outgoing administration's toes. At the same time, he had to carefully weigh any statements he made on the economic situation. The words of someone like the president, the chairman of the Federal Reserve or even the president-elect are closely watched and can have a serious impact. "The one thing I can say with certainty is that we are going to need to see a stimulus package passed either before or after inauguration," Obama said.

So there wasn't much news made, or at least not much hard news. But Obama did manage to slip in a séance joke about former First Lady Nancy Reagan. And he gave out some vital information about his promise to get his daughters a new puppy, coupled with a joke at his own expense.

"With respect to the dog, this is a major issue ... We have -- we have two criteria that have to be reconciled. One is that Malia is allergic, so it has to be hypoallergenic," Obama said. "On the other hand, our preference would be to get a shelter dog, but, obviously, a lot of shelter dogs are mutts like me. So whether we're going to be able to balance those two things I think is a pressing issue in the Obama household."

Alex Koppelman

Alex Koppelman is a staff writer for Salon.

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