Obama Names Economic Advisory Board

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President Barack Obama, trying to get the nation's distressed economy back on track, appointed an outside group of advisors Friday to help him.

The President announced the new Economic Recovery Advisory Board, Friday morning, on the heels of more bad news about the nation's unemployment rate.

A new Labor Department report shows that the unemployment rate jumped to 7.6 percent in January, as employers slashed payrolls by 598,000 jobs.

That is the largest cut back since the end of 1974, and the rate is the highest since September 1992.

On Thursday, the department reported that the number of newly unemployed workers seeking jobless benefits hit the highest level since 1982.

Obama Addresses Senators

During a news conference on the appointment of the board, Obama took advantage of the occasion to make his point to senators.

"These Americans are counting on us." he said. "All of us in Washington must remember that we're here to work for the American people. And if we drag our feet and fail to act, this crisis will turn into a catastrophe. We'll continue to get devastating job reports like today's - month after month, year after year."

"These aren't my assessments - these are the assessments of independent economists," Obama explained.  "Millions of jobs will be lost. More families will lose their homes. More Americans will go without health care. We'll continue to send our kids to crumbling schools, and be crippled by our dependence on foreign oil."

"That is the result of the inaction, and it is completely unacceptable to the American people," the President said.

Members of the Board

The newly formed economic board will provide regular briefings to the President, Vice President and their economic team.

According to the White House, the board will provide frequent advice directly to the President on programs that will jump-start economic growth and facilitate economic stability.

Members of the board will have a two-year term, after which the President will determine whether to extend the board's term.

The President has already tapped Paul Volcker, a former Federal Reserve chairman and a top Obama adviser, as the leader of the high-profile panel of advisers.

Also named to the 15-member board:

* Former Securities and Exchange Commission Chairman William Donaldson
* TIAA-CREF President-CEO Roger Ferguson
* Harvard University professor Martin Feldstein
* Obama campaign finance chairwoman Penny Pritzker
* Caterpillar Inc. Chairman-CEO Jim Owens 
* General Electric Co. CEO Jeffrey R. Immelt
* Anna Burger of Service Employees International Union 
* Richard Trumka of the AFL-CIO

The board was designed to offer Obama advice as he seeks a way to weather the crisis and rebuild the economy.

Source: The Associated Press

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