Alexa

Obama selling economic rescue plans

 Treasury Secretary-designate Timothy Geithner, left, and National Economic Council Director-designate Lawrence Summers, leave the auditorium after Pr...
 President-elect Barack Obama, accompanied by National Economic Council Director-designate Lawrence Summers, second from right,  and others, leaves a ...

Obama Economy

Treasury Secretary-designate Timothy Geithner, left, and National Economic Council Director-designate Lawrence Summers, leave the auditorium after Pr...

Obama

President-elect Barack Obama, accompanied by National Economic Council Director-designate Lawrence Summers, second from right, and others, leaves a ...

Just days before becoming president, Barack Obama was looking to Congress on Wednesday for important votes that will shape the early days of his administration, as lawmakers hash out an economic rescue package and vet his Cabinet picks.
Obama got tough on Tuesday promising, senators said, to veto any attempt to block the next administration's access to the second half of the $700 billion bailout package designed to prop up the country's wobbly financial system.
Use of the first $250 billion from the huge fund, conceived in the face of a near financial collapse in September, has drawn heavy criticism from the public and Congress for a disproportionate focus on big financial institutions to the detriment of homeowners facing home mortgage foreclosure and smaller institutions and businesses.
Obama has broken with protocol observed by most of his predecessors who largely stayed out of the public eye until taking office, arguing that the economic perils facing the United States require that he and Congress must be ready to move vigorously as soon as he is inaugurated on Tuesday.
Obama's round of visits to members of Congress on Tuesday was his second since he returned from a Christmas holiday. His first mission pushed his $800 billion plan that melds federal spending and tax cuts. He returned Tuesday to argue for the release of the remainder of the $700 bill Troubled Assets Relief Program. While vowing to veto a Senate block on release of the $350 billion, several Democrats said Obama would commit in writing to alter how the money would be spent. That, the senators said, would be sufficient to prevent an embarrassing pre-inauguration battle.
"This will be the first vote that President-elect Obama is asking us for. I'll be shocked, and I'll be really disappointed if he doesn't get it," said Sen. Joseph Lieberman, an independent who historically votes with Democrats. "This is a new beginning."
The largely smooth transition toward Obama's assuming office as the 44th president hit an embarrassing bump Tuesday when his nominee for treasury secretary owned up in a closed door session with senators to failing to pay $34,000 in taxes from 2001 to 2004. The oversight has been corrected but complicated the confirmation of the highly respected Timothy Geithner.
Senate Democrats are pressing ahead with scheduling a quick confirmation hearing for Geithner on Friday, but Republicans have yet to sign off on expediting the hearing by the Senate Finance Committee.
Obama has stood by Geithner. White House spokesman Robert Gibbs in a statement said Geithner merely "made a common mistake on his taxes."
Geithner failed to pay self-employment taxes for money he earned from 2001 to 2004 while working for the International Monetary Fund, according to materials released by the committee Tuesday.
The panel's report also noted that Geithner briefly employed a housekeeper in 2005 whose legal immigrant work status had lapsed.
Gibbs said Geithner "was unaware that his part-time housekeeper's work authorization expired for the last three months of her employment."
Immigration issues have derailed presidential nominations in the past.
Geithner is the second Obama nominee to face controversy. New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson withdrew his name on Jan. 4 as Obama's Commerce secretary after questions surfaced about an ongoing federal investigation into how political donors landed a lucrative transportation contract.
Hillary Rodham Clinton, Obama's choice as secretary of state, was sailing through her confirmation process with collegial questioning Tuesday by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. Her confirmation is not in doubt, and she could be on the job as soon as Obama's first full day in office. The Senate Foreign Relations Committee planned to vote on the selection Thursday.
On Wednesday afternoon, Obama and Vice President-elect Joe Biden plan a preinaugural visit to the Supreme Court at the invitation of Chief Justice John Roberts.
It's something of a tradition for incoming presidents and vice presidents to pay their respects to the court, though not all have made the trip. The Obama team said Wednesday's visit was private and reporters would be excluded.