President-elect Obama says the United States needs to start dealing with the financial crisis by creating a rescue plan for the middle class.

The plan should include an extension of unemployment benefits, and programs to deal with the effects of the crisis on small businesses and state and local governments, Obama said today during the first press conference he has held since winning the Nov. 4 general elections.

The government should see that the current economic stabilization program stabilizes financial markets and helps homeowners without unduly rewarding financial services company executives, Obama said.

“We are going to have to focus on jobs, because the hemorrhaging of jobs has an effect, obviously, on the ability to buy goods and services and has enormous spillover effects,” Obama said.

Obama said he believes he can work with Congress to create a stimulus program during the “lame duck session” of Congress or immediately after he becomes president.

“Now is a good time to set politics aside for awhile and think practically about what will move the economy forward,” Obama said.

Obama gave no details about his economic policies, but he said the decision about the dog he will buy his daughters comes down to a conflict between a preference to acquire a shelter dog and a need for a hypoallergenic dog.

In separate news, Obama’s team has announced the names of the 17 members of the president-elect’s Transition Economic Advisory Board.

One of the members is William Donaldson, who is a past chairman of Aetna Inc., Hartford, as well as a past chairman of the New York Stock Exchange.