Obama advisers get bipartisan high marks

Stan Collender, managing director for Qorvis Communications, a public affairs firm in Washington, D.C., agreed that "at least a hint of the size (of a new stimulus package) would have made some sense." But he said if Obama proposes specific figures so soon, "somebody is going to shoot them down."

Reaction was positive from the Bush administration. White House deputy press secretary Tony Fratto called Geithner "exceptionally talented." Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson expressed confidence in "his understanding of markets, his judgment and leadership, and his ability to meet the challenges that lie ahead."

The team also got a major thumbs-up from Wall Street. The Dow Jones industrial average jumped nearly 400 points Monday to 8443, adding to a nearly 500-point rally late Friday when word of Geithner's nomination went public.

"Investors are looking for clarity of direction, and they are getting it with the designation of the economic leadership team," says David Kotok, chief investment officer at Cumberland Advisors. "They like what they see, they recognize the names, and they have comfort in the choices."

Smart people 'not enough'

While Geithner and Summers are likely to craft Obama's stimulus package, it's not clear who will push it through Congress. Douglas Holtz-Eakin, former director of the Congressional Budget Office and the top economic adviser in Republican John McCain's presidential campaign, said they bring more brains than power of persuasion.

"If he was dean of the faculty, he would have recruited an outstanding College of Arts and Sciences," Holtz-Eakin said. But "having bright people who have great records is not enough."

Geithner has been intricately involved in the Bush administration's response to the financial crisis, including its bailouts of AIG, Bear Stearns and Citigroup and its decision not to help Lehman Bros. He also brings vast international experience and has studied Chinese and Japanese.

"Tim understands the language of today's international markets in more ways than one," Obama said.

Summers is a veteran of the Clinton administration and, like Geithner, a protégé of former Treasury secretary Robert Rubin. He is viewed as an expert on the interrelationship between the public and private sectors.

"He really sees how the moving parts connect," said Bernstein, who has advised Obama in the past. "That's exactly what you want if you're president — someone who can help explain if you press here, what might happen over there."

Several outside experts said they expect the National Economic Council, based inside the White House, to become much more of a power center under Summers than it has been in recent decades.

"It's going to be a very, very strong position," said Maya MacGuineas, of the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget.

Sen. Judd Gregg, R-N.H., top Republican on the Senate Budget Committee, rendered perhaps the highest praise by comparing Geithner and Summers to the sluggers who once formed the heart of the order for his beloved Boston Red Sox.

"He's basically signed up Manny Ramirez and David Ortiz," Gregg said. "They're extraordinarily strong nominees."

Who's who on the economic team

President-elect Obama's economic team:

Source: USA TODAY research

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