The four people standing behind President-elect Barack Obama at his press conference in Chicago on Monday looked somber. Though they each had reason to be happy -- they were there because Obama was officially announcing each of their nominations to senior roles in his administration -- they had plenty of reason for their less-than-ecstatic expressions as well. Each of the four will have to deal with the ongoing economic crisis, and that seems like it will be no easy task.
Indeed, even before Obama introduced his nominees, he began his remarks by saying, "The news this past week, including this morning’s news about Citigroup, has made it even more clear that we are facing an economic crisis of historic proportions." True, he did add in a positive note about moving forward, but he admitted, "we know this won't be easy, and it won't happen overnight."
"We’ll need to bring together the best minds in America to guide us – and that is what I’ve sought to do in assembling my economic team," Obama said. "I’ve sought leaders who could offer both sound judgment and fresh thinking, both a depth of experience and a wealth of bold new ideas -- and most of all, who share my fundamental belief that we cannot have a thriving Wall Street while Main Street suffers; that in this country, we rise and fall as one nation, as one people."
None of the announcements were unexpected. Tim Geithner will be nominated to be Treasury secretary, Larry Summers to be director of the National Economic Council, Christina Romer to chair the Council of Economic Advisors and Melody Barnes will get the nod to be director of the domestic policy council. (Bill Richardson, who is expected to be nominated to be Commerce secretary, wasn't at the press conference -- his nomination will reportedly be officially announced at a later date.)
Barnes is an interesting nomination; she's a former executive vice president for policy at the Center for American Progress. Combine that with the role CAP's John Podesta has in running the transition, and the CAP seems poised to become the new influential liberal think tank under the Obama adminstration.
Obama also called for "a recovery plan for both Wall Street and Main Street -- a plan that stabilizes our financial system and gets credit flowing again, while at the same time addressing our growing foreclosure crisis, helping our struggling auto industry, and creating and saving 2.5 million jobs."
Finally, before taking questions from the assembled reporters, Obama warned of further economic trouble to come, and gave a hint as to what he'll discuss at a press conference scheduled for tomorrow. "There are no shortcuts or quick fixes to this crisis, which has been many years in the making -- and the economy is likely to get worse before it gets better," Obama said. "Full recovery won’t happen immediately. And to make the investments we need, we’ll have to scour our federal budget, line-by-line, and make meaningful cuts and sacrifices as well -- something I’ll be discussing further tomorrow.
"Despite all of this, I am hopeful about the future. I have full confidence in the wisdom and ingenuity of my economic team -- and in the hard work, courage and sacrifice of the American people. And most of all, I believe deeply in the resilient spirit of this nation. I know we can work our way out of this crisis because we’ve done it before."