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Obama monitors Israeli attacks on Gaza

 President-elect Barack Obama  greets well-wishers after his workout at the Kaneohe Bay Marine Corps Base in Kailua, Hawaii, Sunday, Dec. 28, 2008. (A...
 President-elect Barack Obama  exits after his workout at the Kaneohe Bay Marine Corps Base in Kailua, Hawaii, Sunday, Dec. 28, 2008. (AP Photo/Lawren...

Obama

President-elect Barack Obama greets well-wishers after his workout at the Kaneohe Bay Marine Corps Base in Kailua, Hawaii, Sunday, Dec. 28, 2008. (A...

Obama

President-elect Barack Obama exits after his workout at the Kaneohe Bay Marine Corps Base in Kailua, Hawaii, Sunday, Dec. 28, 2008. (AP Photo/Lawren...

A top adviser to Barack Obama said the president-elect is monitoring Israel's intense air offensive again Gaza rocket squads and Hamas members but declined comment on the fresh Mideast crisis, deferring to the Bush administration.
David Axelrod said Obama, vacationing in Hawaii, was in contact with President George W. Bush and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice but that comment from him was not appropriate. More than 290 Palestinians have died in the first two days of the air campaign.
"President Bush speaks for the United States until Jan. 20 and we're going to honor that," Axelrod said Sunday.
Axelrod, a top presidential campaign official who is moving into Obama's White House inner circle, acknowledged that the United States has had a "special relationship" with Israel, calling it an "important bond, an important relationship."
Obama is "going to work closely with the Israelis. They're a great ally of ours, the most important ally in the region," Axelrod said. "And that is a fundamental principle from which he'll work. But he will do so in a way that will promote the cause of peace, and work closely with the Israelis and the Palestinians on that."
Obama is receiving regular security briefings during his Hawaii holiday with his wife and two daughters. Sunday morning he again traveled to a Marine Corps base near his vacation home for an hourlong workout. Obama, his wife and two daughters are spending 12 days in Obama's native state. He has no public schedule through the New Year.
Axelrod, speaking on NBC's "Meet the Press" and CBS' "Face the Nation," also defended plans for a conservative, anti-gay rights preacher to deliver the inaugural invocation. He said the invitation to the Rev. Rick Warren was important because it underlined the inclusiveness he wants to institute in his administration.
"The important point here is you have a conservative evangelical pastor coming to take part in the inauguration of a progressive president," Axelrod said of Warren, a prominent preacher who backed a recent ballot measure banning same-sex marriage in his home state of California.
Warren has compared gay marriage to legitimizing incest, child abuse and polygamy. That stance has sparked outrage among gays and the president-elect's liberal backers.
At the same time, Warren has battled complaints from fellow evangelicals that he isn't nearly conservative enough. He has spoken out against the use of torture to combat terrorism and has joined the fight against global warming. Encouraged by his wife, he has also put his prestige and money behind helping people with AIDS.
More importantly for the much wider scope of Americans, however, is the terrible economic situation in the United States and globally.
Obama won the presidential election, in part, through voters' belief that he was better able than Republican John McCain to deal with the economic meltdown. Part of his campaign pledge was a tax cut for middle- and low-income earners while increasing the federal levy on wealthier Americans.
Axelrod assured taxpayers that a promised middle-income tax cut was "vital" and at the top of Obama's agenda.
"People need money in their pockets," he said. "That'll get our economy going again."
Congress should have a new stimulus plan ready for the new president to sign soon after he takes office Jan. 20, Axelrod said.
"Obviously, the sooner the better. I don't think Americans can wait," he said. "People are suffering, our economy is sliding, and we need to act. And so our message to Congress is to work on it with all deliberate speed."
As part of his tax plan, Axelrod assured Americans that higher income citizens would be paying more in taxes, but not immediately. That is planned to happen through revocation of tax cuts for that group that were passed during the Bush administration or by allowing the measure to expire in 2010.
"Whether it expires or we repeal it a little bit early we'll determine later, but it's going to go. It has to go." Axelrod said. "We feel it's important that middle class people get some relief now."
Those cuts will be part of the new administration's stimulus plan, Axelrod said. "This package will include a portion of that tax cut that will become part of the permanent tax cut that he'll have in his upcoming budget."
He placed the cost of the planned stimulus at "$675 billion to $775 billion" but said "those numbers are not fixed."
Axelrod also said Obama wants to create as many as 3 million jobs for work-starved Americans, but wants those jobs to be in areas that will help the U.S. economy in the future. Obama's staff has talked about "creating or saving" millions of jobs with his economic program.
"We want to do it in a way that leaves a lasting footprint, by investing in energy and health care projects and refurbishing the nation's classrooms and labs and libraries so our kids can compete, and rebuilding our crumbling roads and bridges and waterways," Axelrod said. "And in this way, we're not only creating work, but we're laying the foundation for the future of our economy."


Updated : 2021-03-09 05:24 GMT+08:00