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The Rundown

By John Amick
2:14 p.m. ET: President-elect Obama formally introduced his economic team to the nation today from Chicago. The nominees: much-discussed appointees Timothy Geithner as Treasury secretary and Lawrence Summers as director of the White House National Economic Council, and new names Christina Romer as chair of the Council of Economic Advisers and Melody Barnes as head of the Domestic Policy Council. After the introductions, Obama took questions from the press, mainly stressing action, focus and optimism on the economy's woes, as well as the international approach when financial pillars such as Citigroup demand government backing.

When asked how his team's approach would differ from the "ad hoc approach" of the Bush administration, Obama gave a nuanced, diplomatic answer that stressed "looking forward" rather than dwelling on past actions of the current administration. Nothing new or ground-breaking here. That said, President Bush, with Treasury Sec. Henry Paulson, made his own public announcement on the economy, mainly regarding action planned to protect Citigroup. He added that he conferred with Obama in the decision to provide Citigroup a rescue, and promised "close cooperation" between his administration and Obama in the coming months.

Outside the realm of public transition announcements came two other reports on potential Obama administration officials. James B. Steinberg is said to be Obama's choice for deputy secretary of state. Maybe even more important, or telling, is Hillary Clinton's approval of Steinberg in the position, according to NBC's Andrea Mitchell. And former Iowa Gov. Tom Vilsack took his name out of the running for secretary of Agriculture. In a related note, Delaware Gov. Ruth Ann Minner will make an annoucement involving the open U.S. Senate seat being vacated by Vice President-elect Joe Biden at 2:30 p.m. ET.

*UPDATE* Minner will appoint longtime Biden aide Ted Kaufman to fill the seat.

Beyond the economic crisis, a few other monumental challenges that await Obama made news today. In a U.S. Court of Appeals, a Justice Dept. lawyer argued for the overturning of a judge's ruling to release 17 Uighur Muslims currently held at Guantanamo Bay. The United States does not consider the men as enemy combatants, yet their native country of China still considers them terrorists and no other country will accept them. This comes at a time of high specualtion surrounding what actions Obama will take to shut down the prison in Cuba.

In addition, outgoing Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert is calling for Obama to continue Israeli-Palestinian peace talks, and top officials in the Marines are forming a plan to send 15,000 troops to Afghanistan, staying in line with Obama's expressed interest in ramping up military presence there.

8 a.m. ET: The Obama camp, once famous for its discipline and ability to keep a secret, has garnered some criticism in recent weeks for a series of cabinet appointee leaks, name-floats and head-fakes. Some believe the "leaks" are part of a broader strategy. Strategic or not, the names are out there, which may remove some of the suspense from Obama's public unveiling of his economic team today in Chicago at 12 p.m. ET. Expected members of Obama's Team Economy include New York Fed chief Tim Geithner as Treasury secretary (when word of his likely selection got out Friday, the Dow Jones went up nearly 500 points) and former Treasury Secretary Lawrence Summers as director of the White House National Economic Council. Geithner and Summers, longtime confidants, will bring to the team a "student-and-mentor" relationship, as the Wall Street Journal describes it.

Who won't be standing behind Obama today? Current Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke, whose status in the incoming administration is in question. The Wall Street Journal reports that he may not last beyond his current term, which ends January 2010. Bernanke may catch heat this week for some of his comments reported in a piece in this week's edition of The New Yorker: "I and others were mistaken early on in saying that the subprime crisis would be contained. The causal relationship between the housing problem and the broad financial system was very complex and difficult to predict."

Today's Obama event follows a weekend full of developments on the economic front. Momentum seems to be building behind the Democratic push for a fiscal stimulus package of nearly $700 billion. Congressional leaders reportedly hope to have the economic package passed and waiting for President Obama's approval by the time he takes the oath of office on Jan. 20. On Saturday, Obama announced plans to add 2.5 million jobs to the workforce through infrastructure projects. And as Monday morning arrived, the government announced plans to offer the influential and economically-vital Citigroup a "safety net" to protect "against potential losses on a $306 billion pool of troubled assets." News of the likely boost to Citigroup positively affected European markets as stocks rose today.

Who is still out in the cold after a week of lame-duck session pleading? Detroit. In order to bolster their case in December, automakers are planning to send the calvary: a fleet of fuel efficient cars for Congress to ogle.

By washingtonpost.com editors  |  November 24, 2008; 8:00 AM ET
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I am not so sure that the leaks are actually "strategy"...I think part of it probably has to do with the fact that we live in the age of information. It is pretty tough to keep secrets these days, especially in such a high profile election.

If it is "strategy", I'm not sure what strategy that is. Obama seems to be electing a series of Clinton aides....this is good for many of the staunch democrats since there is a certain amount of experience that accompanies it. On the flip side, some independents and moderates that voted for "change" in Washington may not share the same sentiment.

It seems that he has turned a bit more practical with some of his appointments...I don't necessarily disagree, more surprised that he hasn't reached outside of the proverbial "box". He has made a lot of good decisions so far,; hopefully time will say the same about the appointments to office.

Posted by: kdubjr | November 24, 2008 12:36 PM

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