Obama Says Stimulus Is Top Priority

Posted November 7, 2008 at 2:48pm

President-elect Obama said Friday that an economic stimulus plan is his top priority, saying the economy should receive a jolt of fresh aid even before his inauguration. “I want to see a stimulus package sooner rather than later,” Obama said in Chicago during his first press conference since winning the presidency. “If it does not get done in a lame-duck session, it will be the first thing I get done as president of the United States.”

Obama spoke following a meeting with his “Economic Advisory Board,” which included former Treasury secretaries Robert Rubin and Larry Summers, former Rep. David Bonior (D-Mich.), and former Federal Reserve Chairman Paul Volcker. Also in on the session were Vice President-elect Biden and Democratic Caucus Chairman Rahm Emanuel (Ill.), who is Obama’s incoming White House chief of staff. As a show of his concern over the economy, the group flanked Obama as he spoke.

Obama said he wants to move quickly with new appointments, but that he wants to “get it right” with respect to staffing and will not be rushed. “I want to move with all deliberate haste, but I want to emphasize deliberate, as well as haste,” he said. Obama aides said earlier in the day that no appointments are expected to be announced today.

Obama said a top priority for a “rescue plan for the middle class” would be a further extension of unemployment benefits. Other goals are to help small businesses, state and local governments, and automakers.

Obama was careful to note that he is not president yet — something President Bush went out of his way to state as well during Bush’s own remarks at the White House on Wednesday. But Obama was not above giving the sitting president a bit of advice, saying the administration should “do everything it can” to hasten the delivery of existing aid Congress gave to automakers this fall in the form of a loan program.

Obama said his next priority would be to act on proposals he has made with respect to health care, education, energy and taxes. Asked if he might back off his plan to raise taxes for the wealthiest, Obama said that while he believes his economic initiative is “the right one,” his aides will “continue to take a look at the data.”

On a question of intense interest, Obama said that he has not decided on what type of dog to get for his children, a gift he promised to give them after the campaign. He noted that while they want a dog from the pound, his daughter is allergic and only certain breeds would be suitable. “A lot of shelter dogs are mutts like me,” he said.