We’re waiting for the start of the president-elect’s news conference, and silently praying that nobody will ask questions about puppies. NPR is stressing Obama’s insistence that “there’s only one president.” That president this morning said more Citi-type bailouts are possible.
11:07 a.m. – We’re underway. In his opening statement Obama says “we’re facing an economic crisis of historic proportions.” He announces the nomination of four individuals, including : Tim Geithner as secretary of treasury; Larry Summers as head of the economic council; Melanie Barnes as head of the domestic policy council.
11:12 a.m. – Dow up 305.13 as Obama begins.
11:13 a.m. – Obama says one of his nominees — Melody Barnes — is “an expert at determining whether a recession has started.” He needs someone to tell him that? On the other hand, he didn’t mention that she was name done of the “best dressed women in Washington.” Matthew Yglesias takes a more intellectual approach.
11:17 a.m. – It doesn’t sound like we’re going to hear many specifics today on Obama’s solutions. The Dow is dropping slightly from its high.
11:18 a.m. – How bad is the economy and, in particular, the auto industry. While Obama was talking, GM announced its ending its endorsement deal with Tiger Woods.
Q: What about the stimulus package?
A: Obama says he doesn’t want to get into numbers right now. “We have a consensus, which is pretty rare, between conservative economists and liberal economists, that we need a big stimulus package that will jolt the economy back into shape.” Dow gains continue to evaporate. Now up 250.
Q:Will you let Bush tax cuts expire?
A: Says the tax cuts were disproportionately targeted to the wealthiest. “It is important if we’re going to help pay for some of these expenditures to get our economy back on track, then it’s important for those who can pay more do so.” He then avoided answering the question about whether those tax cuts would be repealed immediately or allowed to expire.
Q: Can you give us a range of the size of stimulus package you’re considering?
11:24 a.m. – The Dow has shed 100 points since the president-elect started talking.
Q: Can you describe how your team’s approach might differ from the approach we’ve had in the last year?
A: “I don’t want to look backwards. I’m sure there are some things that Secretary Paulson has done that he wish he’d done differently.” He then punts the question and lapses into the stump speech about a strong Main Street is as important as a strong Wall Street.
Q: Do you think the automakers made a convincing case for a bailout?
A: “We can’t allow the auto industry simply to vanish. We’ve got to make sure it is there and that the workers and suppliers … stay in business. I’ve also said we can’t just write a blank check to the auto industry.”
So is that a “yes” or a “no”?
“I was surprised they didn’t have a better thought-out proposal.”
So, that’s a “no,” I guess.
Q: How and when should the second half of the rescue money be spent?
A: Obama said he spoke with President Bush and Fed Chair Bernanke today. I will make further assessments about whether it’s necessary to draw down additional (bailout) money as the administration and treasury secretary provide me with more real-time information. We are united in making sure the financial system operates the way it was mean to.
11:33 a.m. We get the trademark, “thank you, guys.”
Another very short Obama news conference with very little insight.
The Dow is up
205 183 at the end of the news conference. It bent but did not break.