Obama’s news conference

Given a choice of who’s words to hang on — President-elect Obama or the State Canvassing Board — I’ve chosen the president-elect.

He’s underway with his third news conference and repeats — for a third time — that we face a historic economic challenge, something just about every working stiff in America knows. He’s announcing the “President’s Economic Recovery Board,” which is a throwback to the Eisenhower administration.

9:47 – Mark. The Dow is down -62.85 at the start of the news conference.

9:40 a.m. – Obama says one of the reasons for the board is that in Washington, these sorts of things result in “group think” and there’s little knowledge of whether policies are actually working on main street. He names Paul Volcker to head the board. The financial world seems to love this pick, but Volcker isn’t exactly Mr. Main Street America. But Obama says he likes Volcker because he’s not afraid to say what he thinks. Obama has clearly intended to surround himself with people who won’t tell him simply what he wants to hear.

One interesting sidenote to how the economy ripples. Just a few days ago, Volcker gave Major League Baseball an update on the economy.


Does your saying you want a new way of thinking indicate a frustration with the way the crisis has been handled so far?

No. I think what it speaks to is a frustration to eight years in which middle-class income has gone down. And frustration of the incapacity of Washington to take bold steps to deal with our economic problems. (Isn’t that actually a “yes” answer?)

We’re two days away from the biggest shopping day of the year and retailers are worried it’ll be a disaster. Any shopping advice and are you going to go shopping?

We’re going to do some Christmas shopping and the daughters have put their list together. It’s mostly for Santa but we may do some extra shopping. “I think families are understandably nervous about their economic situation. The economic statistics have been bad. There is no doubt that during tough economic times, family budgets are going to be pinched. It’s important, though, for the American people to have confidence.”

We have the best workers in the world, the most innovation in the world, we’re in possession of extraordinary resources that if we harness properly, we’ll get the economy moving over the next couple of years and decades. People should understand that help is on the way and as they think about this Thanksgiving shopping weekend and the Christmas season, I hope everyone understands we’ll get through these difficult times but they’re going to have to make good choices.

(Nice try, New York Daily News reporter, but he didn’t take the obvious “just go shopping” bait. Things have changed in Washington.)

Are you worried about the latest Bush administration bailout and the continued printing of money. What federal programs would you cut to actually pay for your stimulus package. You talk about change but Paul Volcker has been around a long time. You talked about John McCain would come to Washington and put the same people in different chairs. You’ve got Tom Daschle, Hillary Clinton….

Obama interrupts and says “you hear that. First of all that’s not the topic. We’re not talking about my cabinet because I haven’t made those appointments yet…”

“Sir, we’re talking about Paul Volcker…he’s been around a long time. He knows the way of Washington, but what do you say to your supporters who are looking for change?”

Actually, Paul Volcker hasn’t been in Washington for quite some time and that’s a reason he can provide a fresh perspective. (University of Chicago economist) Austan Goolsbee (he’ll be the economic board’s director), this is about as fresh a face as you can get.

With respect to the details of the economic plan, we’ll work over the next few weeks to put the framework together. We’ll have a strong stimulus/economic recovery plan to put people back to work. It’ll be large enough to jump-start the economy. On Tuesday I talkd we’ll have to pare back on programs that do not work. We can hardly be expected to provide you a detailed list right now. We’ll identify programs that don’t work and make sure they are eliminated and put the money into programs that do work, like health care modernization.

When it comes to the people we’ve pulled together — I know there’s been a conventional wisdom floating around Washington that there’s been a recycling of people who were in the Clinton administration, the last Democratic administration that we had was the Clinton administration, so it would be surprising if I selected a treasury secretary who had no connection to the last Democratic administration because that would mean the person had no experience in Washington whatsoever. And I suspect you would be troubled — and the American people would be troubled — if I selected a treasury secretary… at one of the most critical economic times of our history who had no experience in government whatsoever.

We’re going to combine experience and fresh thinking. Understand where the vision of change comes from. It comes from me.

Do you support the latest bailout?

What I’ve said is we have to do whatever is required to be sure our economic system can give credit to the markets. It’s important for the federal government use the authority in a forceful fashion. The latest attempts by the Treasury to make sure we have a housing market in which credit is falling, that is a positive sign.

(That’s all the questions he took, but he did a good job defining what “change” is. It’s not different faces, it’s efforts that work.)

10:02 a.m. – Mark. The Dow is down 12 points at the end of the news conference — and falling — after briefly going positive during Mr. Obama’s news conference.

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