In his first post-election press conference, President Barack Obama said voters had awarded him only one mandate: to help middle class families and those striving to reach the middle class. In line with fulfilling this charge, the administration’s top priority would be creating manufacturing jobs and rebuilding the nation’s schools and infrastructure. An early bellwether of the president’s commitment to this will be his selection of a replacement for Timothy Geithner, who is expected to step down as Treasury secretary early next year. The nomination presents an opportunity for a White House course correction, finally putting Main Street ahead of Wall Street.
Throughout the past year, Federal Reserve Chair Ben Bernanke has led the choir in warning about the size of the federal deficit. In July, he endorsed extending George W. Bush's tax cuts for the wealthiest households, while suggesting the need for spending cuts to offset the revenue loss. Bernanke's repeated alarms have heightened fears that public deficits could "crowd out" private borrowing, force up long-term interest rates, and choke off the anemic recovery.