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Obama feels the pain, adds new daily economic briefing

January 22, 2009 | 12:22 pm

Robert Gibbs, U.S. President Barack Obama's press secretary, gives his first formal briefing to the media at the White House in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Thursday, Jan. 22, 2009. Gibbs said Obama will get a daily briefing on the economy from his chief adviser on the subject, Lawrence Summers, while his administration grapples with the economic crisis

At the start of his first briefing as White House press secretary, Robert Gibbs announced that President Obama has added a new daily briefing to his schedule, to be conducted with the same seriousness and professionalism that is poured into the daily intelligence briefing. This one is on the economy.

On a day when Microsoft announced the first layoffs in its history -- 5,000 jobs over the next 18 months -- the White House announcement was one more indication that the new president intends to put the economy -- on its worst footing since the Depression -- at the top of his agenda.

Gibbs said Obama feels it is "important that each day he receive the most up-to-date information as it relates to the economy."

So every day, National Economic Council director Lawrence Summers, former president of Harvard University and a onetime Treasury secretary, will brief the president on the latest developments in a vexing financial crisis.

In the annals of White House history, it may seem a small addition to the president's schedule. Maybe the next president will even discontinue the practice.

But in forcing the federal bureaucracy to churn out a daily report, Obama is sending a clarion signal that he puts the economic crisis on equal footing with terrorism as a threat to the nation.

Kind of what he was elected to do.

-- Johanna Neuman

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Robert Gibbs, U.S. President Barack Obama's press secretary, gives his first formal briefing to the media at the White House in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Thursday, Jan. 22, 2009. Gibbs said Obama will get a daily briefing on the economy from his chief adviser on the subject, Lawrence Summers, while his administration grapples with the economic crisis. Joshua Roberts/Bloomberg News

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