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Project Would Be the Largest Since the Interstate System

President-elect Barack Obama shakes hands with Florida Governor Charlie Crist as Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich looks on during a bipartisan meeting

President-elect Barack Obama shakes hands with Florida Governor Charlie Crist as Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich looks on during a bipartisan meeting

On the heels of more grim unemployment news, President-elect Barack Obama yesterday offered the first glimpse of what would be the largest public works program since President Dwight D. Eisenhower created the federal interstate system in the 1950s.

Obama said the massive government spending program he proposes to lift the country out of economic recession will include a renewed effort to make public buildings energy-efficient, rebuild the nation’s highways, renovate aging schools and install computers in classrooms, extend high-speed Internet to underserved areas and modernize hospitals by giving them access to electronic medical records.

“We need to act with the urgency this moment demands to save or create at least 2 1/2 million jobs so that the nearly 2 million Americans who’ve lost them know that they have a future,” Obama said in his weekly address, broadcast on the radio and the Internet.

Obama offered few details and no cost estimate for the investment in public infrastructure. But it is intended to be part of a broader effort to stimulate economic activity that will also include tax cuts for middle-class Americans and direct aid to state governments to forestall layoffs as programs shrink.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) has called for spending between $400 billion and $500 billion on the overall package. Some Senate Democrats and other economists have suggested spending even more — potentially $1 trillion — in the hope of jolting the economy into shape more quickly.

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In this Nov. 10, 2008 file photo, Sasha Obama and Malia Obama, the children of President-elect Barack Obama, not pictured, walk to school after their father dropped them off in Chicago. Malia and Sasha are in Washington with their mother checking out new schools. AP

In this Nov. 10, 2008 file photo, Sasha Obama and Malia Obama, the children of President-elect Barack Obama, not pictured, walk to school after their father dropped them off in Chicago. Malia and Sasha are in Washington with their mother checking out new schools. AP

WASHINGTON — Malia and Sasha Obama are in Washington with their mother checking out prospective new schools.

Michelle Obama brought 7-year-old Sasha and 10-year-old Malia to visit the future first family’s top choices, her spokeswoman Katie McCormick Lelyveld said Tuesday. She would not name the schools.

“She brought the girls to visit choices for their new schools to make sure they find the right fit,” she said. “Their move to Washington is her top priority.”

A small motorcade was parked at the back entrance of Georgetown Day School on Monday afternoon, with a few Secret Service agents standing around. The motorcade left after a group of people emerged, but Michelle Obama was not seen among them.

When asked if Michelle Obama had visited the school that day, some parents and students said they did not know. Other students who appeared to be in middle school said that they were not allowed to answer reporters’ questions.

The Obamas were expected to tour Sidwell Friends on Tuesday. Officials at both schools did not immediately return calls seeking comment.

The soon-to-be first lady visited both elite schools last week, without her daughters, when she also toured the White House with first lady Laura Bush.

Georgetown Day, founded in 1945, was an early pioneer in integration and prides itself on its diversity. A report posted on the school’s Web site says about 35 percent of its estimated 1,000 students are of color.

Sidwell Friends is a private Quaker school that Chelsea Clinton attended.

The president-elect’s family has also discussed public school options for the two girls, Washington Mayor Adrian Fenty and Schools Chancellor Michelle Rhee said last week.

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Obama has a few important things on his plate among others organizing his family’s massive shift in location and lifestyle – he is now the president-elect. In any case with a dog and a couple of young children – this will likely be some White House occupantswe will all remember. We can be fairly certain they will be there for eight years – a dog can have a good life in that time.

CHICAGO – After eight years of Republican rule, Barack Obama turned Wednesday to the task of building a Democratic administration to lead the country out of war and into the financial recovery that he promised.

Obama planned to spend the rest of the week at home in Chicago, turning in earnest to reviewing the hiring decisions he’ll have to make in the next two-and-a-half months. Campaign advisers have already presented him with names to review for key positions, but they said he wasn’t focused on filling the jobs before winning the election.

A top priority, the advisers said, would be picking a White House chief of staff to help manage the selections to come. Illinois Rep. Rahm Emanuel appeared headed for the job, said Democrats who spoke on condition of anonymity before the announcement, expected as early as Wednesday.

Obama also faces intensive national security briefings that will prepare him to take over as commander in chief.

“We know the challenges that tomorrow will bring are the greatest of our lifetime — two wars, a planet in peril, the worst financial crisis in a century,” Obama said in his victory speech in Chicago’s Grant Park. “There is new energy to harness and new jobs to be created, new schools to build and threats to meet and, for us to lead, alliances to repair.”

He said the solutions wouldn’t be quick or easy — perhaps not even achievable with one term. “I promise you — we as a people will get there,” Obama said.

Obama planned to keep a low profile on his first full day as president-elect, aides said. Obama had told reporters over the weekend that he’d hold a press conference Wednesday, but the campaign staff later walked that back and said it would be more likely to come by the end of the week.

There were more personal decisions to be made, too, like when to move his family to Washington and where his 10- and 7-year-old daughters will go to school. Obama also was expected to take time to mourn his grandmother, who died Sunday before she could see the grandson she helped raise achieve his dream. Obama could be considering a return to his native Hawaii for the small private ceremony that she requested be held later.

In a congratulatory call to Obama, President Bush pledged to make a smooth transition and extended an invitation to the Obama family to visit the White House soon.

And then there was the matter of the family pet. “Sasha and Malia, I love you both so much, and you have earned the new puppy that’s coming with us to the White House,” he told his daughters in his victory speech.

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