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Minnnesota politicians disagree on Obama team -- Klobuchar loves it, Coleman hates it, Peterson mostly positive

ST. PAUL - The initial phases of president-elect Barack Obama's economic plan met a mixed Minnesota reaction.

The state's two U.S. senators did not agree.

Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., said that Obama "is putting together the best and brightest" economic experts to lead the country out of its current rut.

But Sen. Norm Coleman, R-Minn., warned that he fears Obama's economic proposal "simply increases spending."

"We cannot spend our way to economic recovery," Coleman said. "We should not just throw money at the economy and run the debt even higher. Rather we must, in a fiscally responsible manner, look to policies that actually spur economic growth and create jobs."

Klobuchar looked at the people Obama is naming to his administration and indicated she had confidence in them.

"He has put together not just an A economic team, but an A-plus economic team," Klobuchar said "He is putting together a centrist Cabinet, which is important to reaching out to the other side and moving this country forward."

Many of the people he has named, such as treasury secretary-designate Timothy Geithner, are not exactly household names. But, Klobuchar said, those inside economics know and respect them.

"It reminds me more that he is running a business, and I say that in a good way," Klobuchar said about the president-elect.

Those in the Upper Midwest will do well under the Obama plan, she added, because it focuses on energy production that is expanding in this region. At a Monday news conference, Obama said that he wants to create 2.5 million jobs by the end of 2010, partially by investing in "the green economy."

Sen. Kent Conrad, D-N.D., agreed that the Obama team is good.

"He has assembled some of the best economic and financial minds in our nation," said Conrad, chairman of the Senate Budget Committee.

Rep. Collin Peterson, who serves most of western Minnesota, said he does not personally know most of Obama's picks, but questioned Geithner.

"As near as I can tell he is another Wall Street guy," the Detroit Lakes Democrat said. "I'm not sure we need any more Wall Street guys."

Overall, however, Peterson said he is impressed with the Obama operation.

"They ran a flawless campaign," he said. "They appear very focused on getting their transition handled in a similar way."

For many in Congress - like U.S. Rep. Tim Walz, D-Minn. - this is a wait-and-see time.

"People in southern Minnesota and around the nation are suffering and they are nervous about the future," Walz said. "Congress, working together with the Obama administration, will address that crisis with bold and effective action."

Walz said the Obama economic team is "an impressive group of intellectual heavyweights with a healthy diversity of views about how our country can best move forward."

But the congressman said he is awaiting details of the Obama economic plan, which the president-elect said on Wednesday would come only after his new advisors have a chance to weigh in.

Walz said he expects the plan to rebuilt the economy "by investing in infrastructure, modernizing schools and building more fuel-efficient cars and alternative energy technologies."

A House Financial Services Committee member said she is concerned about the Bush administration's decision to provide more than $300 billion in aid to Citygroup.

"Taxpayer bailout after taxpayer bailout has yet to provide the promised stability to the markets," U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann, R-Minn., said. "The American people were sold a false bill of goods. They've been watching their hard-earned tax dollars and their children's future spent to shore up banks and financial institutions with no positive impact on their family's economic well-being."

Bachmann has co-sponsored a resolution to prohibit the spending of money remaining in the $700 bill financial bailout package Congress already has passed.

She said the bailout compounded the country's economic woes.