Obama Defends Deep List of Washington Insiders in Administration

CHICAGO -- As he unveiled another component of his strategy to lift America out of its worst economic crisis since the Great Depression, President-elect Barack Obama pushed back Wednesday when he was asked if he is recycling too many Washington insiders into his new economic team.

"I suspect the American people would be troubled if I selected a treasury secretary or a chairman of an economic council at one of the most critical economic times in our history who had no experience in government whatsoever," Obama said at a news conference to announce former Federal Reserve Chairman Paul Volcker would head a new economic advisory board.

"What we're going to do is combine experience with fresh thinking," Obama said. "We need people who will be able to hit the ground running,"

Volcker, 81, will head Obama's Economic Recovery Advisory Board, which will advise him on ways to create jobs and bring stability to the ailing financial system. He is just one of many familiar names in Washington whom Obama ias tapped to join the next administration.

The board's top staff official will be Austan Goolsbee, a University of Chicago economist and longtime Obama adviser.

Former President Jimmy Carter named Volcker Fed chairman in 1979, a time of high inflation and high unemployment. Volcker, who chaired the Fed until 1987,  helped tame inflation by raising interest rates, despite intense opposition by some in Congress.

Volcker's moves helped plunge the economy into recession in the short-term, but he was later credited with reviving the economy by getting inflation under control.

Obama held his third news conference in as many days, a remarkable burst of public activity for the president-elect, who has sought to assure nervous consumers and financial markets that he will bring swift economic relief after Jan. 20.

On Tuesday, Obama introduced Congressional Budget Office Director Peter Orszag as his candidate to run the White House Office of Management and Budget. The president-elect also pledged a "page-by-page, line-by-line" budget review to root out unneeded spending.

On Monday, Obama tapped New York Federal Reserve President Tim Geithner to be his treasury secretary and named several other top economic advisers.

With his economic team largely complete, Obama is expected to introduce his national security officials, including Hillary Rodham Clinton as his secretary of state, next week. Aides said Clinton has not yet formally accepted Obama's offer, but transition officials have indicated that her nomination is on track.

Obama also is expected to announce that he has asked Defense Secretary Robert Gates to remain at the Pentagon for a year and that James Jones, a former Marine Corps commandant and NATO commander, will be national security adviser.