It's Still the Economy, Stupid
By Ben Pershing
Amid the focus on a trio of interesting political subplots -- Rod Blagojevich's seriocomic downfall, Caroline Kennedy's Senate candidacy and Barack Obama's Cabinet search -- it's easy to forget that the economy was the single biggest storyline of the presidential campaign and will likely continue to dominate the agenda long after Inauguration Day.
If the current and incoming occupants of the White House needed any more motivation to get going on more economic recovery plans, auto and otherwise, the front-page news that Chrysler, Ford and GM will be idling factories should do the trick. President Bush's reaction was to say yesterday that the auto bailout impasse should be resolved "relatively soon," though the administration is facing pushback from congressional Republicans opposed to using any of the existing financial bailout money for the auto companies. Perhaps if they wanted a seat at the table they shouldn't have punted the issue to the White House in the first place.
Obama, meanwhile, is still developing his much broader stimulus plan, now pegged at roughly $850 billion. Much of that cash will likely be devoted to infrastructure projects, with expected Transportation nominee Ray LaHood playing a big role in doling out the money. (LaHood, by the way, has over the years been "mentioned" for every job under the sun -- senator, governor, House Speaker, Pope -- but always demurred, so the real shocker here is that he's actually TAKING a new job.) Also potentially joining the Obama team is Ron Kirk, now reportedly the frontrunner for U.S. Trade Representative and, perhaps, the only Cabinet-level southerner.
Posted at 8:10 AM ET on Dec 18, 2008
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