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See also: "Confirmations of Barack Obama's Cabinet
Thirty-one of the appointments to the transition team had previously worked in the "Clinton administration, including Podesta, Chief of Staff "Rahm Emanuel, and Biden's Chief of Staff "Ron Klain.
Obama held near-daily press conferences as President-elect to announce his administration nominees to the public. He introduced the nominees and occasionally took questions from the press regarding issues such as economic difficulties and the War in Afghanistan.
The appointments of "Lawrence Summers and "Timothy F. Geithner to key economic positions were criticized, on grounds that they had been prominently involved in creating many of the conditions that led to the "financial crisis of 2007–2008, so "failure is being rewarded". Summers was a leading advocate of the "derivatives deregulation, together with "Alan Greenspan and "Robert Rubin, and during his transition to Secretary of the Treasury, the act that kept "commercial banks out of "Wall street, the "Glass–Steagall Act, was repealed. Geithner instead was criticized for his failure to pay $34,000 in income taxes.
"Eric Holder appointment for Attorney General raised concerns, due to his role in the last-minute pardon issued by "Bill Clinton for fugitive financier "Marc Rich.
During his first press conference as President-elect, on November 7, Obama remarked about former first lady "Nancy Reagan holding "seances in the White House, which gained widespread attention. Termed his "first gaffe," Obama called Mrs. Reagan later that evening to apologize for what his spokesperson said was a "careless and off-handed remark."
- "Chief of Staff: "Representative "Rahm Emanuel of "Illinois was selected by President-elect Obama on November 6, two days after the election.
- "Deputy Chiefs of Staff: "Jim Messina, current director of personnel for the Obama Transition team and former Chief of Staff to Senator "Max Baucus; and "Mona Sutphen, a former career foreign service officer who worked for President Clinton's "National Security Council.
- "Senior Advisors to the President: Campaign strategist "David Axelrod and "Pete Rouse, who has been serving as Obama's Senate chief of staff.
- Senior Advisor and Assistant to the President for Intergovernmental Relations and Public Liaison: "Valerie Jarrett, a lawyer who served as Chicago's planning commissioner and later was chairperson of the "Chicago Transit Authority. In 1995, Jarrett left public service to join the Habitat Corporation, a Chicago real estate management company.
- Assistant to the President for Legislative Affairs: "Phil Schiliro.
- "White House Counsel: "Greg Craig.
- "Cabinet Secretary: "Chris Lu, former legislative director of Obama's Senate office.
- "Staff Secretary: "Lisa Brown, executive director of the "American Constitution Society.
- "Press Secretary: "Robert Gibbs, announced on November 22.
- "Communications Director: "Ellen Moran.
- Deputy Director of Communications: "Dan Pfeiffer.
- Chair of the White House "Council on Environmental Quality: "Nancy Sutley, a well-known member of the "LGBT community, and Deputy Mayor of Los Angeles.
- Deputy Director of "White House Office of Health Reform: "Jeanne Lambrew.
- White House photographer: "Pete Souza.
Cabinet and top advisors
There was one withdrawal, "New Mexico "Governor "Bill Richardson, whom Obama had named "Secretary of Commerce. Richardson's administration was, at the time, the subject of a federal corruption probe; while maintaining that his administration was responsible for no wrongdoing, he withdrew so as to prevent a lengthy confirmation process from hindering the work of the "U.S. Department of Commerce. The position was filled by "Gary Locke.
Obama named "Tim Kaine as new chairman of the "Democratic National Committee, replacing "Howard Dean who has clashed with Obama and his advisors in the past. Kaine served concurrently as "Governor of Virginia until his term ended in January 2010.
Obama named "Aneesh Chopra for the new position of "Chief Technology Officer of the United States, "Vivek Kundra as Chief Information Officer and "Jeffrey Zients Chief Performance Officer and deputy director for management of the Office of Management and Budget
Initial reaction to Obama's choice of "Leon Panetta as CIA director was mixed, with some intelligence professionals expressing concern that Panetta lacked specific intelligence experience, and others such as former Congressman and co-chair of the "Iraq Study Group "Lee H. Hamilton praising the choice.
Environment and Energy
Foreign Affairs and National Security
|Proposed Obama administration personnel at the time of Inauguration January 20, 2009
|* Although identified by sources to the press, selection awaited official announcement by the office of the President Elect.
|Chief of Staff to the Vice President
|Counsel to the Vice President
|Counselor to the Vice President
|Assistant to the Vice President for Intergovernmental Affairs
|Assistant to the Vice President
Director of Communications
|Deputy Chief of Staff to the Vice President
|Deputy National Security Adviser to the Vice President
|Director of Communications for the Second Lady
Obama's developing "presidential agenda was divided into domestic and foreign policy issues. In most cases, this agenda involved addressing crises already underway. His principal "strategic decisions concerned how quickly to move bills through Congress. Some of his advisors suggested moving quickly, as "Franklin D. Roosevelt did in 1933, under the belief that a more "moderate approach would waste valuable time early in his "presidency, when his "political capital will be strongest. Others suggested moving more slowly, as "Bill Clinton did before his attempt to enact a "national healthcare program, based on the notion that rapid change could quickly wear down any "bipartisan "consensus. He was expected, in any case, to issue a series of "executive orders within days of his inauguration, including a reversal of Bush-era executive orders restricting funding to "family planning (including "abortion) services and "stem-cell research. There was also a possibility that a new cabinet level advisory post would be created overseeing the "Department of Energy, "Department of the Interior and the "Environmental Protection Agency.
According to Podesta, the transition team planned to conduct an exhaustive review of Bush's executive orders in an effort to find quick changes that could be implemented on the first day in office. Podesta also says that there is a great deal that can be accomplished without waiting for Congress to act and that Obama wanted to move quickly once in office to restore "a sense that the country is working on behalf of the common good."
American Recovery and Reinvestment Plan
The "economic agenda under development initially focused on short-term measures intended to hold off widespread economic losses so that a longer-term economic agenda could then be formulated. That approach subsequently shifted to a longer-term stimulus plan, with a goal of creating 2.5 million jobs over a two-year period. With a cost of $700 to $800 billion, the stimulus plan would cost more than a quarter million dollars per job created (divide 750 billion by 2,500,000 yielding $300,000). In a nationally televised interview on December 7, he acknowledged that his agenda has changed over the past month, and that a short-term stimulus package had again become his first priority. He wanted to emphasize ""shovel ready" infrastructure projects to create new jobs quickly. Barack Obama said he hoped to sign the stimulus package into law soon after taking office on January 20.
Obama's most immediate concern was an economic stimulus proposal that some Congressional "Democrats had advocated. Like previous stimulus packages, that proposal was "demand-side ("Keynesian) in nature. It would likely consist of increased funding for "unemployment benefits, the "Food Stamp Program, and "infrastructure projects, rather than "tax rebates. In fact, Obama claimed to be planning "the largest infrastructure program in roads and bridges and other traditional infrastructure since the building of the "Interstate Highway System in the 1950s." However, he also emphasized his plans to "green" the "federal government by updating "heating and lighting systems in federal buildings, as well as significant investment in technology initiatives such as mandatory "electronic medical records, improved computers in schools, and universal availability of "broadband Internet access.
Additional funding for "Medicaid was also being considered. A similar stimulus bill was passed by the "House of Representatives on September 26, 2008, but never approved by the "Senate. Obama promised to promote a stimulus bill early in his presidency if one was not passed before his inauguration on January 20, 2009. In addition, Obama considered the request of the U.S. automotive industry for a cash infusion of $50 billion in addition to the $25 billion that had already been approved, but emphasizing that his support is "conditioned on them making significant adjustments."
Obama also planned to push for a program to spend $150 billion over 10 years to develop new "renewable energy sources. This money would also be used to encourage "energy conservation and help the auto industry develop "fuel-efficient vehicles. However, "Mother Jones reported that the "Windfall Profits Tax on oil companies, which he frequently cited during the campaign, had been dropped from the agenda early in the transition.
According to the transition's website, Obama also hoped to rekindle "volunteerism by expanding "AmeriCorps and the "Peace Corps and also creating a new Classroom Corps. Other volunteer efforts reportedly include a Health Corps, Clean Energy Corps, and Veterans Corps. "Middle and "high school students would be asked to do 50 hours of "community service work a year. College students would be eligible for $4,000 in "tuition "tax credits in exchange for community service work. Improved volunteerism programs aimed at "senior citizens were projected, as well as augmented Youth Build and "Head Start programs.
Agenda on healthcare
On December 5, Tom Daschle, who was designated to lead Obama's efforts for "health care reform, announced a month-long campaign to solicit public input on the shape of that reform. People were encouraged to hold community meetings to discuss the issue, and to post their thoughts on www.change.gov, where over 10,000 comments had already been posted. Although Democratic leaders had met in private for several months to prepare a legislative package for unveiling in January, Daschle was anxious to avoid the appearance that the transition was working behind closed doors to create a sweeping agenda for change.
This technique, developed by grass roots organizations like "MoveOn.org, was designed to reinforce the notion that Obama intended to aggressively pursue his health care reform agenda despite the worsening economy. "President-elect Obama has made health reform one of his top priorities, and I'm here to tell you that his commitment to changing the healthcare system remains strong and focused", said Daschle.
During a news conference on December 11, 2008, Obama linked health care reform to the upcoming economic stimulus package, noting that "It's not something that we can sort of put off because we're in an "emergency." "This is part of the emergency." He expected the stimulus legislation to include a $40 billion increase in Medicaid spending over two years, plus a massive investment in "health information management technology. Consideration was also being given to funding for retraining medical workers, expansion of the "State Children's Health Insurance Program (SCHIP), and expansion of the "COBRA provisions, which allow unemployed workers to purchase "health insurance through their previous employer's "plan.
Foreign policy agenda
Foreign policy of the Barack Obama administration
One of the principal "foreign policy issues that Obama ran on during the presidential campaign concerned his promise to withdraw most American troops from the "Iraq War within sixteen months of his inauguration. Another issue concerned the three areas of foreign policy that President Bush had been focusing on during the final months of his term: "Iran's nuclear development, "North Korea's nuclear arsenal, and the "Israeli-Palestinian peace talks. In all three cases, a diplomatic structure had already been established, although some of the Bush Administration's goals might differ from those Obama would adopt as president.
The Annapolis Conference gathers in November 2007.
In the Middle East, Bush began a new approach to the peace process, the so-called "Annapolis process, which attempts to encourage Israeli and Palestinian leaders to agree on the outlines of a peace accord. Although both sides cite some success in these discussions, critics believe the talks have unduly ignored "Hamas, which has been labeled as a terrorist organization, despite the fact that it holds an enormous amount of political power in the region. Obama had not specified what his approach would be, although it was considered likely that he would appoint a high-level Middle East envoy, in part to free his Secretary of State so that other matters can also be addressed. Hamas expressed a willingness to talk to Obama, who has said that he will reciprocate only if it renounces "terrorism, recognizes Israel's right to exist, and agrees to abide by past agreements. The Hamas leader in "Gaza, "Ismail Haniyeh, has said the Hamas government would accept a "Palestinian state that followed the "Green Line and would offer Israel a long-term truce if Israel recognises the Palestinians' national rights.
During his second term, Bush pursued an agreement with North Korea to end its nuclear weapons programs. To prevent a collapse in the process, Bush agreed to remove North Korea from the State Department's list of "State Sponsors of Terrorism, which Obama supported. Obama has criticized Bush for taking so long to engage with North Korea, and has indicated that he would be eager to engage in a more proactive diplomatic effort to reach an agreement. A senior North Korean official recently told reporters that "we are ready to deal" with the incoming Obama administration.
Obama also deliberated on how to deal with Iran. Outgoing Secretary of State "Condoleezza Rice had assembled a coalition of six states—the United Kingdom, France, Germany, Russia, China, and the United States—to confront Iran. While the group won approval from the "United Nations, Iran largely ignored its demands. While Obama had previously advocated carefully planned direct talks with Iran, he was now being seen as likely to build on the current coalition to broker an agreement with Iran.
In addition, Obama formulated a policy to deal with the U.S. "missile defense shield that was under construction in Poland. He discussed the matter with both Polish "President "Lech Kaczyński and Russian "President "Dmitry Medvedev. While his advisors were working on a missile shield policy, his position at that time was simply that one might be deployed if and when it has been "proved to be workable".
Obama also planned to revoke a series of executive orders enacted by Bush that would have the effect of overturning a "practice that many critics have labeled as "torture against "detainees."
This would include requiring the CIA to abide by the "Army Field Manual when interrogating prisoners. Resistance was expected, however, from some in the "Intelligence Community, regarding the practicality of a complete revocation of these orders. He was also hoping to close the "detention camp at "Guantanamo Bay Naval Base in "Cuba, although issues were expected to arise in such a plan because many of the detainees have been held without evidence or have been coerced in their confessions, which would not be admissible in a "federal court.
A November 20, 2008, "Los Angeles Times article stated, "Antiwar groups and other liberal activists are increasingly concerned at signs that Barack Obama's national security team will be dominated by appointees who favored the Iraq invasion... 'It's astonishing that not one of the 23 senators or 133 House members who voted against the war is in the mix,' said Sam Husseini of the liberal group "Institute for Public Accuracy."
Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, who was retained in the Obama Administration, outlined an agenda for reform of the "Department of Defense. His ideas centered on a perceived need to shift purchasing priorities away from costly high tech weapons, and toward lower cost alternatives that are more appropriate for the wars the U.S. was currently fighting, as well as those he believed might lie in the immediate future. He noted that there are limits to U.S. military power, and believed that the emphasis should be shifted away from fighting, and toward training, advising and equipping allied forces to fight.
Specific areas Gates and Obama agreed on were said to include:
Obama made energy policy one of his topmost priorities in his 2008 campaign. Towards his energy goals of "United States energy independence through investment in "alternative energy production he has set the following objectives:
- Within ten years save more oil than current imports from the Middle East and Venezuela combined.
- By 2015 put one million "plug-in hybrid vehicles on the road.
- By 2012, 10 % of U.S. electricity shall come from "renewable sources and 25 % by 2025.
- By 2050, 80 % of currently emitted "greenhouse gases shall be eliminated.
To achieve these objectives, Obama proposed the following measures
Appointees recruited by Obama with experience on energy policy included Peter Orszag, an expert on cap and trade programs, who was named as director of the Office of Management and Budget. John Podesta, transition chief, was an early advocate of Detroit's refocus on using lower carbon alternatives to gasoline.
Secret Service preparations
The "Secret Service, of the "U.S. Department of Homeland Security, was the lead agency for both security and logistics for the "Inaugural Ceremony. Their plan was to open the event to as many spectators as possible. "Security was expected to be strict, and vast portions of downtown "Washington would be closed to all traffic. Initially, it was thought that up to 4 million people would descend upon the area of the "National Mall, but later reports from the Secret Service suggested that the number might not be that high. Arrangements for 8000 "police officers were made, however, and parking for up to 10,000 "tour buses was arranged. A "Metro spokesperson warned that the "subway system "will be utterly overwhelmed." "Camping was not permitted on the mall.
On November 13, 2008, the Secret Service announced that Obama's "codename would be "Renegade". In addition, his wife's is "Renaissance" and his daughters' are "Rosebud" and "Radiance".
The first family visited both "Sidwell Friends School and "Georgetown Day School before deciding on Sidwell. The residential transition began with the first of two interim stops at the "Hay-Adams Hotel on January 4. The second interim stop was a move to "Blair House on January 15, the traditional interim move date for Presidents-elect. The residential transition began earlier than for most incoming Presidents because the daughters began school at Sidwell on January 5. During the campaign, Michelle Obama had stated that the residential transition would be planned to be as unified as possible for all members of the family. Michelle's mother, "Marian Robinson, made plans to move into the White House to assist with child care. In the current real estate market, the Obamas did not intend to sell their "South Side Chicago home that sits on the border between the "Hyde Park and "Kenwood "community areas.
"Jenna and "Barbara Bush had lots of advice for Malia and Sasha Obama. The Bush twins sent the Obama daughters an open letter that was published in "The Wall Street Journal.
The outgoing Bush family did not take much with them as they left the White House. Among the items they left behind was their official "state china service, a "Lenox gilt-edged style with a green basket weave border, estimated to be worth $492,798. However, what they did not take with them can be included in the collection of the Presidential Library.
Vice President "Dick Cheney was injured moving out of his "residence just before the inauguration and used a "wheelchair during the ceremony.
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But there's no doubt that we're not going to be able to do everything that I think needs to be done. There are some things that I think have to be done. We have to have energy independence, so I've put forward a plan to make sure that, in 10 years' time, we have freed ourselves from dependence on Middle Eastern oil by increasing production at home, but most importantly by starting to invest in alternative energy, solar, wind, biodiesel, making sure that we're developing the fuel-efficient cars of the future right here in the United States, in Ohio and Michigan, instead of Japan and South Korea. Note that Obama listed energy goals before all others as a policy area that would not be scaled back in response to Lehrer's question.
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