- The Washington Times - Tuesday, November 25, 2008

President-elect Barack Obama appeared publicly for the second consecutive day today to announce two more members of his economic team, serving notice that he intended to focus on ending wasteful spending and reducing the deficit.

“This isnt about big government or small government,” he told a news conference at his Chicago transition headquarters. “It’s about building a smarter government that focuses on what works.” He said deficit reduction would be a goal of his administration, but not until the recovery from the financial crisis is under way.

“We’re going to have to jump start the economy,” he said.

Mr. Obama nominated Peter Orszag, currently head of the Congressional Budget Office, to be the new director of the Office of Management and chose as his deputy Robert Nabors, who is staff director of the House Appropriations Committee and served before that at the OMB.

Mr. Orszag knows where the “bodies are buried in the budget,” Mr. Obama said.

It marked the second successive day in which the Democratic president-elect appeared publicly to announce the formation of his economic team, an obvious priority for his incoming administration at a time when the United States faces its worst financial crisis since the Great Depression.

With his two back-to-back public announcements, Mr. Obama apparently intended to show the American people that he was on top of the crisis and planned to deal with it by hitting the ground running after his inauguration Jan. 20.

He reiterated that although the country only can have one president at a time, the extreme seriousness of the financial crisis made it “important that the American people understand the team we’re putting together.”

Unlike during Monday’s remarks, Mr. Obama’s emphasis seemed to be on cutting the budget in order to reduce the deficit instead of focusing only on spending.

“As soon as the recovery is well under way, we need to set up a long-term plan to reduce the structural deficit and make sure we are not leaving a mountain of debt for the next generation,” he said

The federal deficit could approach $1 trillion this year.

Mr. Obama made it clear that the challenge of finding money to tackle the country’s economic straits will include focusing on eliminating waste from the budget, which Mr. Orszag will supervise.

The president-elect used the rising cost of health care and a $49 million farm subsidy program as examples of federal spending that must be curtailed or ended.

“There’s a report today that from 2003 to 2006, millionaire farmers received $49 million in crop subsidies even though they were earning more than the $2.5 million cutoff for such subsidies,” he said. “If this is true, it is a prime example of the kind of waste I intend to end as president.”

He said his administration also would focus “on one of the biggest, long-run challenges that our budget faces namely the rising cost of health care in both the public and private sectors.”

His election victory, he said, was “decisive win” that gave him a mandate “to move the country in a new direction.” But, he said, he would cooperate with the Republicans.

“I think what the American people want more than anything is just commonsense, smart government,” Mr. Obama said. “They dont want ideology, they dont want bickering, sniping. They want action and effectiveness. When it comes to the budget, people dont want to continue the argument about big government or small government. They want smart government and effective government.”

“Budget reform is not an option. Its a necessity,” he said. His economic aides, he said, would be instructed to “think anew and act anew.”

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