PEBO Talks Trillions for Deficit, Purely Positive Words for Panetta

Jan 6, 2009 3:20pm

ABC News’ Jake Tapper and Jennifer Duck Report: President-elect Barack Obama forecasted close to a trillion-dollar deficit and potentially more trillion-dollar deficits "for years to come" after meeting for the second day with his economic team in D.C.

"Peter Orszag now forecasts that, at the current course and speed, a trillion-dollar deficit will be here before we even start the next budget," Obama said at his transition headquarters. "… We’re already looking at a trillion-dollar budget deficit or close to a trillion-dollar budget deficit, and that potentially we’ve got trillion-dollar deficits for years to come, even with the economic recovery that we are working on at this point."

Orzag was head of the Congressional Budget Office for the past two years and will serve as OMB director in the Obama administration.

The President-elect wouldn’t give a dollar amount but explained "an extraordinary amount of money" will be invested in an economic package that will "jump-start our economy, save or create three million new jobs, mostly in the private sector, and lay a solid foundation for future growth."

He added, "I’m going to be willing to make some very difficult choices in how we get a handle on this deficit. That’s what the American people are looking for."

"We are going to bring a long-overdue sense of responsibility and accountability to Washington," Obama vowed while promising to ban all earmarks in a recovery package. "We are going to stop talking about government reform, and we’re actually going to start executing."

On the international front, Obama wouldn’t confirm if former Congressman and Clinton Chief of Staff Leon Panetta was his pick to head the CIA, but he gave a personal ringing endorsement of Panetta.

"I have the utmost respect for Leon Panetta. I think that he is one of the finest public servants that we have. He brings extraordinary management skills, great political savvy, an impeccable record of integrity," Obama said touting Panetta’s resume and past experience of being "fully versed in international affairs, crisis management, and had to evaluate intelligence consistently on a day-to-day basis."

When asked about the violence in the Middle East, Obama reiterated there is one president at a time but he is "deeply concerned" about the conflict.

"In domestic policy, Democrats, Republicans, we can have arguments back and forth about what tax policies are going to be," he explained. "When it comes to international affairs, other countries are looking to see who speaks for America. Right now, President George Bush, as president of the United States, speaks on behalf of the U.S. government and the American people when it comes to international affairs."

The President-elect vowed to "engage effectively and consistently in trying to resolve the conflicts that exist in the Middle East" but not until after inauguration.

"On January 20th, you will be hearing directly from me and my opinions on this issue. Until then, my job is to monitor the situation and put together the best possible national security team so that we hit the ground running once we are responsible for national security issues."

– Jake Tapper and Jennifer Duck

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