With Geithner tapped for Treasury, Obama builds a team
AFP - Monday, November 24
WASHINGTON (AFP) - - US president-elect Barack Obama was set to unveil his economic team amid global financial turmoil, his transition office said Sunday, as a top advisor confirmed Timothy Geithner had been tapped for Treasury.
"President-elect Barack Obama and Vice President-elect Joe Biden will hold a press conference on Monday morning to officially announce members of their economic team," at 1700 GMT, the office said in a statement.
The announcement came just hours after leading Obama advisor David Axelrod said Geithner, the current New York Federal Reserve president, would be named Treasury chief.
"Tim Geithner is someone who had experience in dealing with economic crises as the assistant secretary of Treasury for international affairs in the '90s," incoming White House senior advisor Axelrod told Fox television.
"He's intimately involved with the situation now in his role as president of New York Fed. By temperament and experience, he's the right man to lead the Treasury now," Axelrod stressed.
"The response has been great, and it should be," Axelrod added on ABC. "Tim Geithner is uniquely qualified to do this job. He's someone who is steeped in the economy and in managing crises."
Pressed about Geithner's involvement in handling of the crisis so far and harsh criticism of the decision to allow Lehman Brothers to fail, Axelrod insisted: "we're in unchartered waters. And I'm not going to re-litigate every decision that has been -- that's been made in these -- under these unique circumstances."
But "Tim Geithner was an early warning system in terms of the need for greater regulation, and has been ahead of the curve on a lot of these issues," Axelrod argued.
He also confirmed that Lawrence Summers, a former Treasury chief in Bill Clinton's administration, was in line to become chief economic advisor.
But there would be no word in the next day on New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson, reportedly being vetted for Commerce Secretary, Axelrod said.
Summers, selected to become director of the National Economic Council (NEC), would take on the role of chief presidential economic adviser, as the world struggles to counter the still-expanding effects of the international financial crisis.
Referring to Geithner and Summers, Axelrod said: "They are people who are recognized across the board as leaders in the area of the economy.
Economically "things may get worse before they get better ... we want to hit the ground running. ... These are the people, the best minds in our country to help us," he stressed.
"Obviously we have dramatic problems facing the country ... we've got big problems and we need to start climbing out of the hole," Axelrod said.
He addressed reports that Hillary Clinton was to be named the next secretary of state in coming days, saying that the New York senator and former Obama rival for the White House was "a demonstrably able, brilliantly able person" and "that is the basis on which we would make such an important" decision.
He said that Obama "invites strong personalities" in his management style -- but that in the end, he who would be in charge of policy.
"People need to understand one thing. There's one person who is going to be in charge of American foreign policy ... and that's Barack Obama. He's going to set the direction and he's going to assemble a group of talented and brilliant people to help execute that vision.
"Certainly Senator Clinton, should she be selected, fits that category of brilliance and ability. And he is assembling the best possible team to move this country forward. But he will set the direction," Axelrod said.
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US president-elect Barack Obama was set to unveil his economic team amid the global financial crisis, his transition office said Sunday as a top advisor confirmed Timothy Geithner, pictured in 2006, had been tapped for Treasury.
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