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Obama officially appoints Geithner

President-elect Barack Obama officially named Tim Geithner as his first Cabinet appointment Monday, nominating him to lead Treasury and saying he would move swiftly to detail "meaningful cuts and sacrifices" to the federal budget on Tuesday.

Mr. Obama refused to put a price tag on the new economic stimulus package he wants ready on his desk by his Jan. 20 inauguration, but said it must be large enough to "jolt the economy back into shape" and that he viewed it as a way to create the 2.5 million jobs he's promised to deliver and to make a long-term investment in the nation's infrastructure.

"The work starts today because the truth is we don't have a minute to wait," Mr. Obama said during a press conference here, flanked by Vice President-elect Joe Biden and the new members of his economic team.

Click here to view the transcript of the press conference

The Democrat offered praise for each person he was nominating to shape economic policy — Mr. Geithner as someone who understands the international markets, former Treasury Secretary Lawrence H. Summers to head the National Economic Council, Christina D. Romer as director the Council of Economic Advisors and Melody C. Barnes to run the Domestic Policy Council.

He said Mr. Geithner, now president of the New York Federal Reserve Bank, has "unique insight into the failures of today's market" and noted each person on the team shares his view that a "strong, vibrant middle class" must be the core of a successful economic policy.

Miss Romer, the co-director of the National Bureau of Economic Research and Monetary Economics program, is best known for her research and writings about America's recovery from the Great Depression.

Miss Barnes is the executive vice president for policy at the Center for American Progress and has served previously as chief counsel to Sen. Ted Kennedy.

Mr. Obama said the team will consult with with Congress and the White House to give him daily briefings throughout the transition.

On the stimulus package, which Sen. Chuck Schumer of New York said could be as much as $700 billion, while others suggested a higher figure, Mr. Obama said haste was of the essence.

"I want to see it enacted right away. It is going to be of a size and scope that is necessary to get this economy back on track," he said. "The most important thing to recognize is we have a consensus, which is pretty rare, between conservative economists and liberal economists that we need a big stimulus package that will jolt the economy back into shape."

The markets, apparently, are watching. The prospect of Mr. Obama naming Mr. Geithner, the current president of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, sent the Dow Jones Industrial Average up nearly 500 points Friday.

Mr. Obama called the financial situation "an economic crisis of historic proportions" and said it will lead to "belt-tightening for families and businesses and Main Street."

Mr. Obama on Saturday set a goal of creating or saving 2.5 million jobs by January 2011, or two years into his administration, during his second radio address which also was posted on YouTube. "We have to put people back to work," Mr. Obama said Monday.

The press conference is Mr. Obama's second since winning the election. He held his first three days after the election — an abbreviated affair dominated by questions about the economy, how he would work with President Bush during the transition, and what dog he would get to fulfill a promise to his daughters.

Mr. Obama has spent his time since the election in Chicago interviewing potential hires for his administration.

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