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President-Elect Obama Announces Former Sen. Tom Daschle to HHS

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Thursday, December 11, 2008; 11:25 AM

SPEAKERS: PRESIDENT-ELECT BARACK OBAMA

FORMER SEN. TOM DASCHLE, D-S.D., HEALTH CARE POLICY WORKING GROUP LEADER, OBAMA-BIDEN PRESIDENTIAL TRANSITION TEAM

[*] OBAMA: Before we get into the subject of today's press conference, there are a couple of issues I'd like to address. Today we received more unsettling news about our economy. Jobless claims are now the highest they've been in 26 years, with more than 570,000 people filing for unemployment benefits for the -- for the very first time.

And this news comes at a moment when our auto industry is struggling, threatening the jobs, health care, and pensions of not just thousands of American autoworkers, but dealers, suppliers, and others all across America.

Now, I understand people's anger and frustration at the situation our auto companies find themselves in today. I raised concerns about the health of our auto industry a year-and-a-half ago when I spoke to industry leaders in Detroit. I urged them to act quickly to adopt new technologies and a new business approach that would help them stay competitive in these changing times.

And while they've failed to move quickly enough towards these goals, at this moment of great challenge for our economy, we cannot simply stand by and watch this industry collapse. Doing so would lead to a devastating ripple effect throughout our economy.

As I have said repeatedly, I believe our government should provide short-term assistance to the auto industry to avoid a collapse, while holding the companies accountable and protecting taxpayer interests.


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