The New Biden Task Force to Oversee Economic Recovery

The latest announcement from the Obama transition is that Joe Biden will be leading a task to oversee Administration policies to rebuild the domestic economy and protect jobs. You can listen to George Stephanopoulis's broad-ranging, Sunday interview with Biden  on This Week.

To me a high point of the interview was Biden's answer to the question, (I'm paraphrasing): Isn't the current deficit so large that Obama will not be able to carry out all his recovery plans? Biden's answer was a decisive negative. Obama's economic recovery package is THE priority of the incoming Administration, he said.

He emphasized that the bailout package that they are now envisaging will be in the range of $700 billion or higher and that this amount is made necessary by the rapidly escalating loss of jobs in the economy. And he said, without this plan there is no way of lowering the existing $ trillion deficit. Funds must go to a real economic stimulus in order to generate the income to pay back the deficit.

The task force will not only include members of the cabinet and White House appointees who already have a brief dealing with the economy, but Biden said it would draw in representatives of labor and others from the community. He remarked that he was already discussing the need for a massive recovery program with House and Senate leaders from both parties, and that he has consulted economists ranging from  extreme conservatives to their progressive counterparts and he hasn't found any disagreement about the enormity of the crisis.

The Transition Team release is a good statement on the policy objectives of the new task force created by Pres.-elect Obama.

Washington, DC – Today, the Obama Transition team announced the President-elect’s intention to form a ‘White House Task Force on Working Families,’ to be chaired by Vice President-elect Joe Biden, effective January 20, 2009. The Task Force will be a major initiative targeted at raising the living standards of middle-class, working families in America.  The task force will be comprised of top-level administration policy makers, and in addition to regular meetings, it will conduct outreach sessions with representatives of labor, business, and the advocacy communities.

It includes a great quote from Biden:

The Vice President-elect said:  “Our charge is to look at existing and future policies across the board and use a yard stick to measure how they are impacting the working and middle-class families: Is the number of these families growing?  Are they prospering?  President-elect Obama and I know the economic health of working families has eroded, and we intend to turn that around.”

... snip ...

Members of the White House Task Force on Working Families will include the Secretaries of Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Commerce, as well as the Directors of the National Economic Council, the Office of Management and Budget, the Domestic Policy Council, and the Chair of the Council of Economic Advisors.

 

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Good question but I remain hopeful. Biden will be doing an interview with Larry King on CNN. Here's the link to Kuttner's piece in Huffington Post.

Barack Obama may soon find that he is committing a big sin against one of the major premises of the reigning ideology. As part of his plan to restructure the auto industry, rebuild infrastructure, and create new green industries and jobs, he will be committing industrial policy. And this will create a head-on collision with one of the cherished dogmas of market fundamentalism -- "free trade."

This clash is long overdue. For several decades, American elites of both parties have been preaching the same gospel of free trade. Supposedly, if we just leave markets alone, different countries will produce and export what they naturally do best, and import products at which their partners excel. In the tidy and oversimplified textbook world, there is no room for questions about pollution, labor standards, product safety, financial engineering, or industrial policy.

As important as the implementation of an industrial, IMO, is the ideological transformation that must occur. The American revolution was not fought to guarantee that the free market was sacrosanct. Quite the contrary. It was the British Empire that insisted upon their right to a free market, while limiting access to trade and manufacture in the colonies. Anyway Kuttner's piece is thoughtful--workth a lok at.

carol

far more positive than what we have seen & experienced at the hands (and feet) of the Bush Administration.

In an article in the UK's Daily Telegraph  which is a followup to an earlier piece, Dr. Rown Williams (the Archbishiop) comparing the economic policies of  Prime Minister Brown's government to those pursued in Nazi Germany. The article addresses Williams' strong moral stand that it is necessary for government to address the needs of pensioners, the unemployed, and others being injured during this downturn. In a folloup article the newspaper continues the discussion:

Dr Rowan Williams risks causing a new controversy by inviting a comparison between Gordon Brown's response to the economic downturn and the Third Reich.

In an article for The Daily Telegraph, he claims Germany in the 1930s pursued a "principle" that worked consistently but only on the basis that "quite a lot of people that you might have thought mattered as human beings actually didn't".

Dr Williams, the most senior cleric in the Church of England, then appears to draw a parallel between the Nazis and the UK Government's policies for tackling the downturn, which he says fails to take account of the "particular human costs" to the most vulnerable in society.

"What about the unique concerns and crises of the pensioner whose savings have disappeared, the Woolworth's employee, the hopeful young executive, let alone the helpless producer of goods in some Third-world environment where prices are determined thousands of miles away?" he asks.

In an apparent reference to the Prime Minister, who has claimed to be guided by a moral compass, the Archbishop also observes "without these anxieties about the specific costs, we've lost the essential moral compass".

carol