US President-elect Barack Obama intends to push a comprehensive programme of social and economic reform beyond an immediate emergency stimulus package, Rahm Emanuel, the next White House chief of staff, indicated on Sunday.
Mr Emanuel brushed aside concerns that an Obama administration would risk taking on too much when it takes office in January. He said Mr Obama saw the financial meltdown as an historic opportunity to deliver the large-scale investments that Democrats had promised for years.
Tackling the meltdown would not entail delays in plans for far-reaching energy, healthcare and education reforms when all three were also in crisis, he said. “These are crises you can no longer afford to postpone [addressing].”
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Mr Emanuel, Mr Obama’s first appointment after his emphatic victory over John McCain last week, added that Mr Obama would push hard during the 11-week transition before he is inaugurated for early assistance to the collapsing US car industry, which he described as “an essential part of our economy”.
His comments increased pressure on George W. Bush to approve a widely-touted $25bn emergency package for Detroit – possibly as part of a second emergency stimulus package to stave off further decline in the rapidly deteriorating US economy.
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Mr Obama will meet Mr Bush on Monday and is likely to seek the outgoing president’s reassurance that he would not veto any stimulus package that could be passed as soon as next week when Congress meets for a “lame duck” session.