10-28-2016  1:25 am      •     

WASHINGTON (AP) _ President-elect Barack Obama is laying a foundation for his new administration, calling on a trusted central bank figure to help create jobs and block the economy from falling deeper into a financial morass not seen in eight decades.
Obama also delved into one of the most pressing foreign policy issues facing his presidency, calling Afghan President Hamid Karzai by telephone and telling him that fighting terrorism there and in the region would be a top priority, Karzai's office said on Sunday.
The Saturday conversation between Obama and Karzai was the first reported contact between the two leaders more than two weeks after the Nov. 4 U.S. election. The United States has some 32,000 American forces in Afghanistan, a number that will be increased by thousands next year.
Fighting terrorism and the insurgency "in Afghanistan, the region and the world is a top priority," Karzai's office quoted Obama as saying during the conversation.
On the domestic front, Obama senior adviser David Axelrod confirmed that the president-elect would name Timothy Geithner, the New York Federal Reserve president, as his treasury secretary on Monday. Axelrod spoke Sunday on Fox News.
The move followed in one-two fashion Obama's declaration on Saturday that his administration planned to create 2.5 million jobs over the next two years.
Geithner will team with Lawrence Summers, a treasury secretary under former President Bill Clinton and former Harvard University president, who will take over the National Economic Council.
The men will confront an economic crisis that continues to deepen in spite of hundreds of billions of dollars in federal emergency spending in recent weeks.
If confirmed by the Senate, the 47-year-old Geithner takes over the Cabinet job of administering the next administration's perilous mission to stem the economic nose dive and restore financial equilibrium.
Word of his likely selection Friday helped send the Dow Jones Industrials soaring 6.5 percent after several days of steep losses.
Summers will coordinate the federal response to the economic meltdown across several agencies and also help shepherd Obama's new recovery plan, which aims to create millions of new jobs rebuilding roads, modernizing schools and creating alternative energy sources by January 2011.
Both men will appear with Obama at a Monday news conference in Chicago.
Also Sunday, a Democratic official said Obama would name New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson as commerce secretary after the Thanksgiving holiday. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because the official was not authorized to speak publicly about the negotiations.
Richardson was energy secretary and U.N. ambassador under Clinton. He would be the most visible Hispanic named to Obama's Cabinet.
Richardson dropped out of the Democratic presidential contest in January and endorsed Obama.
Obama wants Congress to approve his recovery plan quickly so he can sign it shortly after his Jan. 20 inauguration.
"These aren't just steps to pull ourselves out of this immediate crisis. These are the long-term investments in our economic future that have been ignored for far too long," Obama said in the weekly Democratic radio address on Saturday.
He called the plan "big enough to meet the challenges we face" and said that it would kindle job creation and shore up the nation's economic foundation.
"We'll be working out the details in the weeks ahead, but it will be a two-year, nationwide effort to jump-start job creation in America and lay the foundation for a strong and growing economy," Obama said.
The announcement of the appointments comes as Obama moves quickly to fill slots for his incoming administration.
On Saturday, Obama named longtime spokesman Robert Gibbs as White House press secretary. Gibbs went to work for Obama's Senate campaign in 2004 and was communications director while Obama was in the Senate.
The president-elect is virtually certain to offer Congressional Budget Office chief Peter Orszag the job of directing the White House Office of Budget and Management, and Orszag is likely to accept, Democratic officials said Saturday.
Axelrod warned U.S. automakers on Sunday that they must design a plan to retool and restructure the industry if they want taxpayer help.
Congress last week refused to act on a $25 billion bailout plan for the Big Three auto companies. Lawmakers are demanding that company executives first explain how they would reorganize themselves and make the industry viable.
Axelrod said in a television appearance that Congress had sent the right signal to the industry. Obama has supported giving the industry a hand, but has said he would not support a "blank check."

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