Obama’s first press conference as president-elect

Jake Grovum

In the face of the worst unemployment situation in the United States in 14 years, President-elect Barack Obama held his first press conference today in Chicago to address the country’s dire economic situation. “Their stories are an urgent reminder that we are facing the greatest economic challenge of our lifetime,” Obama said of Americans’ hardships. In outlining his plans, Obama said some of the options he and his team are considering are a rescue plan for the middle class intended to invest to create jobs and give relief by extending unemployment insurance. “We cannot afford to wait,” Obama said of clean energy, health care, education and helping the middle class as solutions to the financial crisis. Obama said his priorities on day one will be the stimulus package if it’s not already passed, to create jobs and to assist state and local government to make sure they don’t have to lay off workers or increase taxes. Obama continued pressing for an additional stimulus package that Congressional Democrats had discussed prior to Election Day. “I want to see a stimulus package sooner rather than later,” Obama said, adding that if it’s not passed before he becomes president, then it should be shortly after. He said the package is “long overdue.” “We should get it done,” he added. Obama also said he and the U.S. must address the spreading impact of financial crisis on other aspects of economy, including small businesses, state and local government. and that the crisis is global and needs a “global response.” On a day when the American auto industry announced perhaps its worse outlook in recent memory, including multi-billion dollar losses for Ford and GM, Obama said the problems facing that industry need to be addressed. “The auto industry is the backbone of American manufacturing,” he said. In discussing current policies, Obama said he and his team will review implementation of the administration’s financial plan and to make sure it’s achieving the goals of stabilizing economy and not unduly rewarding financial industries.