Obama: Costly Stimulus Needed


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CHICAGO (Reuters) - President-elect Barack Obama promised on Monday to jolt the faltering U.S. economy with a costly stimulus package next year and introduced the team that will help him navigate the global financial crisis.

Obama, who warned again that the economy would likely get worse before it got better, declined to put a price tag on the two-year stimulus proposal which other Democrats have estimated at hundreds of billions of dollars.

The scope of the economic crisis has widened in the 20 days since Obama's White House win. Auto companies warned they were short on cash, unemployment numbers rose and the government injected $20 billion into Citigroup.

"These extraordinary stresses on our financial system require extraordinary policy responses," Obama said, adding his administration would honor public commitments made President George W. Bush's team to address this crisis.

Separately, the president-elect indicated he had not decided whether to roll Bush's 2001 tax cuts for the wealthy early or allow them to expire at the end of 2010 as scheduled.

Obama said his team was already working on the details of a package to save or create 2.5 million jobs and urged the next Congress to act on it immediately in early January.

"We have to make sure that the stimulus is significant enough that it really gives a jolt to the economy," he said, describing its price only as costly.

"I want to see it enacted right away. It is going to be of a size and scope that is necessary to get this economy back on track."

Obama had harsh words for the struggling U.S. auto industry, acknowledging he did not want the sector to fail but criticizing company executives for failing to present a clear recovery plan when they testified before Congress last week.

Obama, who takes over from Bush on January 20, confirmed his economic team at the news conference.

Timothy Geithner, 47, president of the New York Federal Reserve Bank, will become Treasury secretary, and Lawrence Summers, 53, a former Treasury secretary under President Bill Clinton, will be director of the National Economic Council.

They did not speak at the event, which Vice President-elect Joe Biden also attended.

U.S. stocks rallied late on Friday after news leaks about Geithner's appointment.

Stocks pared gains during Obama's remarks on disappointment over his refusal to specify a figure but then rallied strongly on the back of Washington's move to support Citigroup and on general happiness with Obama's new team.

"People are confident in what (Geithner) can do, he's more market friendly, or he's perceived that way," said Neil Massa, senior trader at MFC Global Investment Management in Boston. "That's helping the overall tone of the market."


DEFICITS, SACRIFICE, AUTOMAKERS

Obama said the country would see a substantial budget deficit next year, which he described as "bigger than we've seen in a very long time."

"American taxpayers are understandably concerned, if we already have a big deficit, and now we're added an additional stimulus, how are we going to pay for all that?" he said.

"The right answer is that we have to first focus on getting the economy back on track."

Obama said he would discuss steps toward a "sustainable and responsible budget scenario" at a news conference on Tuesday at which he is expected to announce further members of his economic team.

"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," he said.

Obama supports a bailout for Detroit automakers but said he was disappointed that the chief executives for General Motors Inc., Ford Motor Co., and Chrysler LLC did not present a concrete plan in their testimony before Congress.

"I think Congress did the right thing, which is to say, 'You guys need to come up with a plan and come back before you are going to get any taxpayer money,'" he said.

Obama has kept a low public profile since his November 4 victory over Republican John McCain, remaining in Chicago to pick his Cabinet but not formally announcing any of his choices. Geithner was the first official Cabinet announcement.

Obama also named University of California, Berkeley, economics professor Christina Romer to head his Council of Economic Advisors and Melody Barnes to head his Domestic Policy Council. Barnes, a former chief counsel on the Senate Judiciary Committee, was a policy advisor to Obama's presidential campaign.

Summers is also a possible successor to Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke, whose term ends in January 2010.

In Washington, Bush said the government stood ready to help the banking system as it did with Sunday's Citigroup deal.

Bush, speaking after a meeting with Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson, said he had also spoken with Obama about the Citigroup rescue and promised to inform the incoming president and his economic team of any future major decisions.

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A recent report from Rolling Stone details a public letter sent to Spotify — signed by "270 physicians and scientists" — demanding that the platform implement a "misinformation policy" in response to Joe Rogan's recent interview with Dr. Robert Malone on “The Joe Rogan Experience.”

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There is no transparency when it comes to the Biden administration, and Texas Republican Sen. Ted Cruz's recent exchange with the FBI’s Jill Sanborn is just another example. When questioned about alleged involvement the FBI had on January 6, 2021, Sanborn refused to answer almost every single time.

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Have you ever wondered why so many insane things are happening simultaneously RIGHT NOW? Big corporations are going woke. The stock market got red-hot during a FORCED recession. Stores like Walmart and Target were allowed to stay open during the lockdown, but mom-and-pop stores on Main Street had to close, some of them forever.

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After new information came out that suggests Dr. Anthony Fauci intimidated and bribed scientists into dismissing the COVID-19 lab-leak theory, Sen. Rand Paul and Fauci got into a heated debate in a Senate hearing. But instead of providing answers, Fauci accused Sen. Paul of endangering him.

Sen. Paul joined "The Glenn Beck Program" Wednesday with his response and explained why he believes "people live in fear of what [Fauci] will do to them."

"It's all about money. If you cross Tony Fauci, you don't get your money. He controls the purse strings for the entire country, the entire university system. And he's been doing it for forty years," Sen. Paul began.

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"Look, I've been on the receiving end of semi-automatic gunfire. I was 20 yards away from Steve Scalise when he almost died. I was 10 feet away from a staffer that was shot. And, you know what? The guy doing the shooting was a Bernie Sanders supporter. But not one of us, not one of the Republicans on the ball field, said, 'Oh, it was Bernie Sanders' fault.' But that's the juvenile level of personal attack that Fauci is now stooping to. He is saying that the personal threats he gets are actually the fault of his critics."

Sen. Paul continued, "But the thing is, [Fauci] needs to answer the question. Everything he did in the committee yesterday was misdirection so he didn't have to answer the question. The question was, why did he smear three scientists from Stanford, Oxford, and Harvard? Why did he smear them as fringe epidemiologists? And why did he conspire against Francis Collins to take them down in a very public way? He wouldn't answer the question."

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