As he unveils his economic team today in Chicago, our preternaturally tranquil president-elect is attempting to fulfill his role as Calmer-in-Chief on two fronts.

To Wall Street, Barack ObamaBarack Hussein ObamaHow Trump can get his mojo back Trump confirms 2018 US cyberattack on Russian troll farm Democrats see convention as chance to underscore COVID-19 message MORE is sending assurance, with his selections of Timothy Geithner as Treasury secretary, Larry Summers as senior White House economics adviser and Peter Orszag as budget director. To the jittery public — facing the cold of winter and the holiday season — Obama has signaled he will take bold steps to treat our economic crisis. With the promise of tax cuts for most and 2.5 million jobs by 2011, Obama is hoping consumers are going to start feeling better soon.

With the bailout of Citigroup at hand, which will surely strengthen the case for an auto-industry bailout, why not promise everybody everything? Obama was promising more aid to Afghan President Hamid Karzai on Sunday as he assured us he would spend more to address failing infrastructure, tax us all less, create jobs and tackle healthcare, too! Wait, there was even good news for the rich — now Obama wants to hold off on any tax increases that would have resulted from an earlier plan to roll back the Bush tax cuts. The wealthy get to keep their tax cuts another year before they expire.

When Sen. Charles SchumerChuck SchumerDemocrats blast Trump for commuting Roger Stone: 'The most corrupt president in history' A renewed emphasis on research and development funding is needed from the government Data shows seven Senate Democrats have majority non-white staffs MORE (D-N.Y.) said this weekend that the new stimulus package had to be between $500 billion and $700 billion, he can't really know it for sure. How does anybody have any idea of how many dollars will turn this wreck around? Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson begged House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) on bended knee to get Congress to pass the $700 billion bailout in September, warning of imminent collapse without it. How exactly would he characterize our bailed-out financial industry now?

Bill Kristol concluded today that “we're all flying blind. The markets are spiraling down, and our leading experts don't have much of a clue as to what to do.” Kristol had praise for the incoming economic team, stating that they are sober, competent people who are likely willing to adjust their thinking “early and often.”

But Kristol offered a sensible plea. “I hope the best and brightest who will be joining the new president will at least be willing to entertain the possibility that a lot of what they think they know is wrong.”

That sounds reasonable to me. They might also inquire, now that any notion of a deficit ceiling is gone, whether the Chinese are on board for the next round of debt purchasing all of this will require.



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