President-elect Obama, usually carefully scripted, gave a candid insight into his views on the economy on Sunday, December 7, 2008 at the close of a press conference on Veteran's Affairs. He indicated that if workers have earned benefits, such as severance and vacation pay, they should receive them. He also indicated his general support for the workers' call for Bank of America, recipient of federal investment, to reinstate Republic's line of credit.
At the end of the press conference announcing that General Shinsheki will take the position of Secretary for Veteran's Affairs, a journalist asked Mr. Obama whether he agreed with Rev. Jesse Jackson's call for benefits for workers at Republic Windows and Doors, a Chicago manufacturer closing its doors on only three days notice. Workers have staged a peaceful demonstration at the plant, refusing to leave until their demands are met.
Without acknowledging Jackson's role in the dispute, Obama clearly indicated his preference for Main Street relief, along with Wall Street Bailout. Workers chanted, "they got bailed out...we got sold out" on the streets of Chicago on Saturday. Jackson met with the workers and has contacted Bank of America to urge reinstatement of the company's line of credit.
It will be interesting to see whether Mr. Obama's economic team, with close ties to Wall Street, will implement the President's sentiments, or side with Bank of America. Earlier in the Sunday press conference the President-elect indicated that "getting people back to work is out top priority now." Stay tuned.