Following through on a promise

Before Barack Obama was President-elect -- from the very beginning of his campaign -- he pledged to change the way Washington works. That meant not accepting any financial contributions from lobbyists or political action committees.

Voters often said this was one of the major reasons they supported Barack, and they've been writing to the Transition to tell us how important they think it is that this commitment continues.

Lexington from San Diego, CA, wrote:

"When I first learned of Barack Obama, I was encouraged by his thoughts [on] ending the power of lobbyists and the negative effect of the revolving door on the White House. I'd like to see an agenda that focuses on promoting transparency and getting people into government who sincerely want to serve the interests of the nation over their own careers."

John from Seattle, WA wrote, "I am so tired of special interests getting the best of us all. I support you and hope that you will allow the common guy to have a say in how we are to be governed from now on."

Now Barack has taken the first step, with new rules that restrict how lobbyists can participate in the transition -- just as he restricted how they could participate in the campaign.

The new policy, which ethics experts have praised as a bold step forward, was only announced yesterday -- but already people have written in to show their support.

Sarah from Brockport, NY, wrote, "Today I read about the tough new rules for lobbyists and it just further solidified the faith I have in this administration to bring about a real change....I am feeling real patriotic and in tune with my government for the first time in my 46 years."

Carmen from Olympia, WA wrote simply: "Thank you for the transition ethics. Thank you."

An American Moment

As transition co-chair John Podesta said yesterday, the people who waited in lines around schools, churches and fire houses should "take pride in the power of democracy" because they showed the world that "anything is possible when we come together as one nation."

In that spirit, we created An American Moment on our website because you deserve a government that respects your involvement in the process by being open, transparent and bipartisan. We want to continue to hear about your hopes and dreams, answer your questions, and get your advice about what should come next.

Cynthia in Fort Lee, VA has already written to us with her perspective:

"Politics -- like parenthood -- is a marathon, not a sprint. Now that the election is over, it's time to turn our attention to the next leg of this race, getting family policies like fair pay, paid sick days, healthcare coverage and early education passed."

Susan in Canton, CT shared her thoughts about the challenges facing the auto industry, and added, "I truly want to keep the momentum going; the hope, the volunteerism, the activism."

That's exactly what we want to do, too. Keep sending your stories and we'll keep learning from them.

An end to the “revolving door”

President-elect Barack Obama imposed strict new ethics rules on the transition team yesterday, restricting what work former lobbyists can do for the team and barring registered lobbyists from donating to the transition or to inaugural events.

Transition team co-chair John Podesta characterized the policy as "the strictest ethics rules ever applied."

Across the country, national leaders and ethics experts praised the decision.

"As a professor who has taught a class on Lobbying and Ethics for many years, I want to commend President-elect Barack Obama for his historic new ethics rules," American University Professor James A. Thurber said. "His campaign pledge to change the way Washington works with the lobbying industry became a reality yesterday...The new ethics rules are great for our democracy."

Fred Wertheimer, president of the non-partisan watchdog group Democracy 21, told USA Today that the rules are unique for a president-elect.

"[The rules are] unlike anything that I have seen at the transition stage in 35 years," he said.

At a press conference, a reporter asked Podesta about complaints from lobbyists who claim they have relevant expertise and say the policy leaves them "out in the cold."

"So be it," Podesta said, adding that the President-elect intends to enforce this policy in his administration so that the "revolving door ceases to exist."

Thomas Mann of the Brookings Institution agreed, saying it's a worthwhile price to pay.

"They will prevent some honorable people with rich experience from serving in the transition," he said. "That is a real cost but it is more than balanced by the strong signal sent by the President-elect."

Read the new ethics rules here.

Honoring Veterans

President-elect Barack Obama and Iraq War veteran Tammy Duckworth shared a moment of silence at 11 a.m. this morning after laying a wreath at the Soldiers Memorial in Chicago.

President-elect Obama and President Bush meet at White House

President George Bush and First Lady Laura Bush warmly welcomed President-elect Barack Obama and Michelle Obama to the White House yesterday for a visit that lasted several hours.

In a private meeting in the Oval Office, President-elect Obama thanked President Bush for his commitment to a smooth transition in light of the nation's many critical economic and security challenges.

The First Lady led Mrs. Obama on a tour of the historic home -- with a focus on the private residence -- before meeting in the West Sitting Hall, where they discussed raising daughters in the White House.

Transition Team Co-Chair Valerie Jarrett discusses priorities on ‘Meet the Press’

President-elect Barack Obama's transition team is "hitting the ground running" on its top priorities - the economy and foreign policy, Transition Co-Chair Valerie Jarrett said on 'Meet the Press' today.

She expects Obama to make more announcements on key positions in the days and weeks ahead.

"I think that, in a sense, putting together the Cabinet is like a jigsaw puzzle, and he wants to make sure that it represents the diversity of our country, diversity in perspectives, diversity in race, diversity in geography. And so all of those pieces are going to come together. And he will pick the best person for each position," Jarrett said.

Jarrett also said Michelle Obama plans to focus on the work-life balance when she becomes First Lady.

"She knows how hard it is to manage being a mom, a spouse, have a professional job. And she has a lot of support. She's the first to say, 'Look, I did it with all this support. What about the women out there who are doing it in such a challenging way?'" Jarrett said.

Watch the video of Jarrett's interview on 'Meet the Press' below.

President-elect Obama calls for swift action on the economy in weekly Democratic Radio Address

Barack Obama delivered this week's Democratic Radio Address on Saturday morning, his first as President-elect.

In the address, President-elect Obama spoke about the need to put partisanship aside to solve the greatest economic challenge of our lifetime.

"Tens of millions of families are struggling to figure out how to pay the bills and stay in their homes," Obama said. "Their stories are an urgent reminder that we are facing the greatest economic challenge of our lifetime, and we must act swiftly to resolve them."

You can listen to the full address here.

President-elect Obama meets with economic advisers, calls for “swift action” on the economy

Barack Obama today held his first press conference as President-elect to call for "swift action" to fix the nation's economy.

"Immediately after I become president I will confront this economic crisis head-on by taking all necessary steps to ease the credit crisis, help hardworking families, and restore growth and prosperity," President-elect Obama said.

The press conference followed a private meeting of Obama's Transition Economic Advisory Board, a group of 17 leaders on economic issues that includes former U.S. Treasury Secretaries Robert E. Rubin and Lawrence E. Summers, Google CEO Eric Schmidt and Warren Buffett.

Watch the full video of President-elect Obama's remarks at the press conference below.


Emanuel to be Obama’s White House Chief of Staff

President-elect Barack Obama announced yesterday that Congressman Rahm Emanuel (D-Ill.) has accepted his offer to join the White House as Chief of Staff.

"I announce this appointment first because the Chief of Staff is central to the ability of a President and Administration to accomplish an agenda. And no one I know is better at getting things done than Rahm Emanuel,” President-elect Obama said in a statement.

"During his seven years in the Clinton White House, Rahm was the point man on some of the most difficult issues, from the passage of landmark anti-crime legislation to the expansion of health care coverage for children. In just six years in Congress, he has risen to leadership, helping to craft myriad important pieces of legislation and guide them to passage.”

Emanuel, 48, served as a senior adviser to President Bill Clinton, and has represented the fifth congressional district of Illinois since 2002.

"I'm leaving a job I love to join your White House for one simple reason -- like the record amount of voters who cast their ballot over the last month, I want to do everything I can to help deliver the change America needs,” Emanuel said in a statement. “We have work to do, and Tuesday, Americans sent Washington a clear message -- get the job done.

"Today, once again, our country is piled high with difficulty, and Americans have put their trust in President-elect Barack Obama and Vice-President-elect Joe Biden to think and act anew. And Mr. President-elect, I promise that your White House will do everything in our power to rise to the occasion," he said.

Read the full statements below.

Read the rest of this story ...

Change has come to America

Last night, President-elect Barack Obama delivered the final speech of a presidential campaign that promised change in Washington:

Now the work begins to deliver on this promise by planning the agenda and priorities for the Obama Administration. As the President-Elect reminded the country:

What began 21 months ago in the depths of winter cannot end on this autumn night. This victory alone is not the change we seek. It is only the chance for us to make that change. And that cannot happen if we go back to the way things were. It can't happen without you, without a new spirit of service, a new spirit of sacrifice. So let us summon a new spirit of patriotism, of responsibility, where each of us resolves to pitch in and work harder and look after not only ourselves but each other. provides resources to better understand the transition process and the decisions being made as part of it. It also offers an opportunity to be heard about the challenges our country faces and your ideas for tackling them. The Obama Administration will reflect an essential lesson learned from the success of the Obama campaign: that people united around a common purpose can achieve great things. President-Elect Obama reminded the country of our limitless potential when he claimed this victory:

If there is anyone out there who still doubts that America is a place where all things are possible, who still wonders if the dream of our founders is alive in our time, who still questions the power of our democracy, tonight is your answer.

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