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Washington Post Crashed-and-Burned Watch (Michael Fletcher Edition)

That Barack Obama has an economic advisory team that consists of lots of very smart and public spirited people who think differently is not a problem but an advantage, no matter what Michael Fletcher thinks:

Some Supporters Worry Differences Might Divide Group: As President-elect Barack Obama works to set his governing priorities, some of his supporters are watching warily as he weighs advice from a team of economic advisers who... include free traders and "fair traders," deficit hawks, Wall Street executives, corporate moguls and labor advocates... emblematic of the sharp differences in economic policy that have divided the Democratic Party in years past. "He had a broad base that got him elected, including some progressives as well as some business-oriented people like [former Treasury secretaries] Bob Rubin and Larry Summers," said Dean Baker, co-director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research. "There are some real differences there. He is clearly keeping his options open."...

Those old debates continue to lurk in the background, even as the current economic crisis has forged a broad consensus.... But many of Obama's supporters worry about what he will do after a stimulus package is enacted. Obama's supporters at labor unions and "fair trade" groups are hoping that the new president builds an economic team determined to move quickly on a range of actions to adjust the terms of international trade, tighten control of the financial system and rebuild a fraying safety net for millions of workers. At the top of their list is revamping the nation's health-care system and enacting the Employee Free Choice Act, which would make it easier for workers to organize unions. Obama has championed both proposals, but it is not clear how quickly he will move on them....

Still, many of Obama's supporters look at his advisers and worry about the path that he will choose. During the campaign, Obama frequently consulted with Summers and Rubin, as well as former Federal Reserve chairman Paul A. Volcker and billionaire investor Warren E. Buffett (a director of The Washington Post Co.), two business-oriented counselors whose involvement some analysts said seemed aimed at reassuring voters. Before holding a news conference last week, the president-elect met with an economic advisory board that included his campaign advisers, as well as former representative David E. Bonior (D-Mich.), an outspoken critic of the free-trade policies promoted by Summers and Rubin during the Clinton administration; Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa; and Gov. Jennifer M. Granholm of Michigan, the state with the nation's second-highest unemployment rate.

"This is a moment of both political euphoria and unprecedented economic urgency," said Harley Shaiken, an economist at the University of California at Berkeley. "I don't think his choice of advisers was meant to convey a coherent point of view. He has put together some people that he thinks can work together but think differently. He hopes that results in some pragmatic steps forward..."

Why oh why can't we have a better press corps?

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