Obama Proposes Big Stimulus Package, Tax Increases on Wealthy

President-elect Barack Obama unveiled key elements of his blueprint for turning around the economy -- and the team tasked with making it work -- including a massive stimulus package and tax cuts for a "vast majority" of Americans paid for by the nation's "wealthiest."

Against a backdrop of increasing calls for him to establish a viable economic rescue plan well before he takes office on Jan. 20, Obama said reforms in Washington will be needed to create a "sustainable economy," including larger contributions from taxpayers earning more than $250,000 per year.

"We've got to restore some balance to our tax code and the Bush tax cuts were disproportionately targeted to the very wealthiest Americans -- those who were making more than a quarter million dollars a year can afford to pay a little more," the president-elect said.

"And it is important if we're going to help pay for some of these expenditures that are absolutely necessary to get our economy back on track that those who are in a position to pay a little more do so. Whether that's done through repeal or whether that's done because the Bush tax cuts are not renewed is something that my economic team will be providing me a recommendation on," he said.

Saying his priority is to create 2.5 million jobs and sustain economic growth over the long term are his priorities, Obama on Monday named Timothy Geithner as his choice for Treasury secretary and Lawrence Summers as head of the National Economic Council.

Obama also announced that Christina Romer will be chairwoman of his Council of Economic Advisers and Melody Barnes as head of the Domestic Policy Council.

The newly-appointed economic team will confront a financial crisis that continues to deepen in spite of hundreds of billions of dollars in federal emergency spending in recent weeks.

Some economists have endorsed spending up to $600 billion to revive the economy. Sen. Charles Schumer, a New York Democrat, and former labor Secretary Robert Reich, a member of Obama's economic advisory board, both suggested $500 billion to $700 billion.

Obama said his economic team's first job will be to work with Congress to pass an economic stimulus package.

"Not only do I want the stimulus package to deal with the immediate crisis, I want it also to lay the groundwork for long-term sustained economic growth," he said.

Obama said Geithner and Summers are well-equipped to address the failing economy.

"If we do not act swiftly and boldly, most experts believe we could lose millions of jobs in the next year," he said. "While we can not underestimate the challenges we will face, we also can't underestimate our capacity to overcome them -- to summon that spirit of determination and optimism that has always defined us, and move forward in a new direction to create new jobs, reform our financial system, and fuel long-term economic growth."

Geithner -- currently the president of the New York Federal Reserve and vice-chairman of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York  -- played a key role in the Bear Stearns sale of this spring and is a longtime Washington insider, having worked for the Treasury Department and the Council on Foreign Relations. Wall Street stocks jumped significantly when word leaked Friday of Obama's decision to appoint him.

A protege of current Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson, Geithner is in the midst of the Treasury moves taken so far, and his expected nomination was greeted warmly by Paulson.

"I have the highest regard for Tim -- his judgment and creativity have been critical to designing and implementing the necessary actions we've taken to protect and strengthen our financial system. I have great confidence in his understanding of markets, his judgment and leadership, and his ability to meet the challenges that lie ahead," Paulson said.

"The reality is that the economic crisis we face is no longer just an American crisis, it is a global crisis and we will need to reach out to countries around the world to craft a global response.  Tim's extensive international experience makes him uniquely suited for this work," Obama said.

Lawrence Summers -- who was Treasury secretary under former President Bill Clinton and is a professor at Harvard University's Kennedy School of Government -- will take over the National Economic Council. Summers resigned from his position as president of Harvard University in 2006 amid growing complaints from environmentalists and minority groups over controversial remarks he made on topics like free-trade and affirmative action.

"As a thought leader, Larry has urged us to confront the problems of income inequality and the middle class squeeze, consistently arguing that the key to a strong economy is a strong and growing middle class.  This idea is the core of my own economic philosophy and will be the foundation for all of my economic policies," Obama said.

Obama also introduced Romer and Barnes. Romer is a macroeconomist and economic historian who is a member of the National Bureau of Economic Research's Business Cycle Dating Committee, which officially determines when a recession has started and ended.

Barnes, who is an official at the left-leaning Center for American Progress and former chief counsel to Sen. Ted Kennedy, will lead Obama's health care reform.

As for a bailout of the auto industry, Obama said taxpayers can not be expected to "pony up" more money for the Big Three automakers who have been "resistant to change." He said he was "surprised" that the CEOs of the Detroit car companies "did not have a better thought-out proposal when they arrived" on Capitol Hill last week.

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The Associated Press contributed to this report.