Q&A With Obama Transition Team
January 20th, 2009: it's your first day as President of the United States. And the briefing from your economic advisors sounds something like this:
“The economy is contracting both at home and abroad. People are losing their homes at a record rate. The deficit stands at about a trillion dollars. The capitalist system is still in its worst shape since the Great Depression. And by the way, there are two wars going on.”
The expectations for President-elect Obama's solutions are as lofty as the challenges themselves.
What can you expect? Former Secretary of Commerce William Daley is currently a member of Barack Obama’s transition team. We invited him to join us on Fast Money for some insights. Following is a synopsis of the conversation.
Ratigan: How are you counseling the President-elect about the transition?
Daley: What you heard from the President-elect on Friday is his commitment to make sure the transition goes smoothly. We can only have one president at a time. However, Barack Obama’s statements indicate his desire to make sure the markets know that the American economy will come back and he strongly desires a stimulus sooner rather than later. If it doesn't get done in lame duck it will get done when he's president.
Ratigan: What’s your view on deficit spending?
Daley: There’s no question that we need stimulus; a combination of short-term and long-term (stimulus). If you believe that we’re are early in this recession, infrastructure stimulus is a good thing to do. And in the short term we’re going to have to do something about unemployment.
Ratigan: How are you counseling the President-elect on tax policy?
Daley: As the president-elect said today, the tax cut for the middle class is a very important part of his agenda and his plan for stimulating the economy next year. He’s committed to it and he’s going to make sure it will happen.
Ratigan: How about the tax on capital?
Daley: Everyone wants to know the specifics about Obama's administration but they’re not going to be laid until he’s president. He’s been strong about the need to simulate the economy. It took us a long time to get into these difficult times and it will take us a long time to get out. We know we have to go through a recession and the government has to be committed to making sure the recession isn’t as deep as some predict it may be. But no one can stop the difficulties that may be coming.
Ratigan: How many jobs are at risk?
Daley: I think we’re going to continue (to see lay-offs). The numbers from the last month might not be the end of it. But this economy has gone through difficulties before. We will come out of this. The President-elect is very optimistic about the opportunities going forward.
Ratigan: What is your view on how to deal with the automakers?
Daley: The President-elect is very sympathetic to the difficulties of the auto companies. He has stated before that he wants the auto makers help us break our dependency on oil. He’s very enthusiastic about re-tooling Detroit and not only making sure the industry survives but grows with the new energy needs of the country. I think you will see action from Congress.
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