News

Obama: Top Priority Will Be Struggling US Economy

Multimedia

Audio

President-elect Barack Obama has left little doubt that the struggling U.S. economy will be his number one priority when he takes office on January 20.  VOA National correspondent Jim Malone reports from Washington.

On three consecutive days, Barack Obama held news conferences to announce members of his economic team, and to reassure the public that turning around the weakened economy was on the top of his presidential agenda.

"My first priority and my first job is to get us on the path of economic recovery, to create 2.5 million jobs and to provide relief to middle class families," he said.

Rutgers University political science professor Ross Baker says the president-elect's relentless focus on the economy is clearly by design.

"They may have initially planned to make their national security appointments first," he said. "But now it appears that they have moved the economic team to the head of the cue.  So I think that really is a measure to reassure the public because so much of the problem involved with the economic crisis is psychological."

Voters said the weak U.S. economy was the main issue in the presidential election, so Mr. Obama has little choice but to make economic revitalization his top priority, even before he is sworn in as president in January.

But Mr. Obama made many other promises during the campaign, including promises to address energy, health care reform and climate change.

Rutgers expert Ross Baker says action on some of those issues may have to wait.

"The agenda of the president-elect has really been set by the economic crisis," he said. "Any newly elected president would have to do deal with this and it is certainly affecting many of his plans.  I suspect that some of his efforts to curb greenhouse gases and so on may have to be set aside temporarily.  I think that certainly his proposals on national health insurance may have to be postponed."

Mr. Obama has moved quickly to put his economic team in place, as well as key members of his incoming White House staff.

That has not always been the case with presidential transitions.

For example, former President Bill Clinton got a late start on many of his appointments, and that caused him problems early in his first year as president.

"This incoming administration has done a wonderful job of studying the mistakes of the past and figuring out two things," said Bruce Buchanan, a presidential scholar at the University of Texas. "One, how important it is to have your plan ready to go, to take advantage of this brief window of opportunity to hit the ground running.  The Obama team is now taking shape much earlier than either the Clinton or Carter teams did.  And it also means that you need to involve the opposition party early in the deliberations."

In the coming weeks, Mr. Obama is expected to announce his foreign policy and national security team, including some familiar faces.

The current Defense secretary, Robert Gates, is reportedly willing to stay on in the new administration.

Mr. Obama is also expected to name former Democratic presidential rival Hillary Clinton as secretary of state.

Bruce Buchanan says the Clinton choice is Mr. Obama's most surprising so far.

"It is risky," he said. "It is a bold move by Obama to attempt to work with someone against whom he fought so vigorously so recently.  It's also a widely believed fact that the Clinton's represent not only great talent, but also great complexity and difficulty and ambitions of their own, and it's an open question whether Mrs. Clinton can subordinate herself to even a President Obama."

There are plenty of precedents for appointing former political opponents to the cabinet.

In 1824, President John Quincy Adams chose rival Henry Clay to be secretary of state.

Following the election of 1860, President Abraham Lincoln reached out to several former opponents and included them in his cabinet, a feat documented by historian Doris Kearns Goodwin in her 2005 book entitled 'Team of Rivals'.

It's a book Mr. Obama often cited during the 2008 campaign for the White House.  

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Expelled from Pakistan, Afghan Refugees Return to Increased Hardshipi
X
Ayesha Tanzeem
May 28, 2015 6:48 PM
Undocumented refugees returning to Afghanistan from Pakistan have no jobs, no support system, and no home return to, and international aid agencies say they and the government are overwhelmed and under-resourced. Ayesha Tanzeem has more from Kabul.
Video

Video Expelled from Pakistan, Afghan Refugees Return to Increased Hardship

Undocumented refugees returning to Afghanistan from Pakistan have no jobs, no support system, and no home return to, and international aid agencies say they and the government are overwhelmed and under-resourced. Ayesha Tanzeem has more from Kabul.
Video

Video Britain Makes Controversial Move to Crack Down on Extremism

Britain is moving to tighten controls on extremist rhetoric, even when it does not incite violence or hatred -- a move that some are concerned might unduly restrict basic freedoms. It is an issue many countries are grappling with as extremist groups gain power in the Middle East, fueled in part by donations and fighters from the West. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video Floodwaters Recede in Houston, but Rain Continues

Many parts of Texas are recovering from one of the worst natural disasters to hit the southwestern state. Heavy rains on Monday and early Tuesday caused rivers to swell in eastern and central Texas, washing away homes and killing at least 13 people. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Houston, floodwaters are receding slowly in the country's fourth-largest city, and there likely is to be more rain in the coming days.
Video

Video 3D Printer Makes Replica of Iconic Sports Car

Cars with parts made by 3D printers are already on the road, but engineers are still learning about this new technology. While testing the possibility of printing an entire car, researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy recently created an electric-powered replica of an iconic sports roadster. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Al-Shabab Recruitment Drive Still on In Kenya

The al-Shabab militants that have long battled for control of Somalia also have recruited thousands of young people in Kenya, leaving many families disconsolate. Mohammed Yusuf recently visited the Kenyan town of Isiolo, and met with relatives of those recruited, as well as a many who have helped with the recruiting.
Video

Video US Voters Seek Answers From Presidential Candidates on IS Gains

The growth of the Islamic State militant group in Iraq and Syria comes as the 2016 U.S. presidential campaign kicks off in the Midwest state of Iowa.   As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, voters want to know how the candidates would handle recent militant gains in the Middle East.
Video

Video A Small Oasis on Kabul's Outskirts Provides Relief From Security Tensions

When people in Kabul want to get away from the city and relax, many choose Qargha Lake, a small resort on the outskirts of Kabul. Ayesha Tanzeem visited and talked with people about the precious oasis.
Video

Video Film Festival Looks at Indigenous Peoples, Culture Conflict

A recent Los Angeles film festival highlighted the plight of people caught between two cultures. Mike O'Sullivan has more on the the Garifuna International Film Festival, a Los Angeles forum created by a woman from Central America who wants the world to know more about her culture.
Video

Video Kenyans Lament Losing Sons to al-Shabab

There is agony, fear and lost hope in the Kenyan town of Isiolo, a key target of a new al-Shabab recruitment drive. VOA's Mohammed Yusuf visits Isiolo to speak with families and at least one man who says he was a recruiter.
Video

Video Scientists Say Plankton More Important Than Previously Thought

Tiny ocean creatures called plankton are mostly thought of as food for whales and other large marine animals, but a four-year global study discovered, among other things, that plankton are a major source of oxygen on our planet. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Kenya’s Capital Sees Rise in Shisha Parlors

In Kenya, the smoking of shisha, a type of flavored tobacco, is the latest craze. Patrons are flocking to shisha parlors to smoke and socialize. But the practice can be addictive and harmful, though many dabblers may not realize the dangers, according to a new review. Lenny Ruvaga has more on the story for VOA from Nairobi, Kenya.
Video

Video Iowa Family's Sacrifice Shaped US Military Service for Generations

Few places in America have experienced war like Waterloo. This small town in the Midwest state of Iowa became famous during World War II not for what it accomplished, but what it lost. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the legacy of one family’s sacrifice is still a reminder today of the real cost of war for all families on the homefront.

VOA Blogs