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Obama urges stimulus package 'right away'

Chicago_With the economy in crisis, President-elect Barack Obama pledged Monday to honor the commitments the outgoing Bush administration has made to rescue financial markets and urged the new, incoming Congress to pass a major stimulus package "right away" to restore growth and create jobs.

"Most experts now believe that we could lose millions of jobs next year," Obama said at a somber news conference 57 days before he takes the oath of office.

He declined to say how big a spending package he wants to revive the economy, but he said, "It's going to be costly." Some Democratic lawmakers are speculating about a two-year measure as large as $700 billion.

The president-elect introduced the top economic advisers for his new administration, beginning with New York Federal Reserve President Tim Geithner to be his treasury secretary. Geithner, 47, is a veteran of financial crises at home and overseas and has worked closely with the Bush administration in recent months.

Obama chose Lawrence Summers as director of his National Economic Council. Summers was treasury secretary under former President Bill Clinton.

Obama said his newly minted economic team offered "sound judgment and fresh thinking" at a time of economic peril.

"The economy is likely to get worse before it gets better," he said in a downbeat forecast, delivered as Americans head into the year-end holiday season.

At the same time, he expressed confidence the nation would weather the crisis "because we've done it before."

The president-elect was mildly critical of the Big Three automakers, saying he was surprised they did not have a better-thought-out plan for their future before asking Congress to approve $25 billion in emergency loans.

He said once he sees a plan, he expects "we're going to be able to shape a rescue."

Obama also announced two other members of his economic team in the making. He named Christina Romer as chair of his Council of Economic Advisers, and Melody Barnes as director of his White House Domestic Policy Council.

BETH FOUHY, AP Writer, Copyright 2008 Associated Press. All right reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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