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Bush: ‘Common ground’ possible on economic stimulus package

WASHINGTON (CNN) — President Bush, before meeting with the congressional leadership on Tuesday, said that common ground could be reached on an economic stimulus package.

I believe we can find common ground to get something done that’s big enough and effective enough so that an economy that’s inherently strong gets a boost, the president said before meeting with the bipartisan group to brief it on his recent trip to the Mideast and his economic plan.

He said he looks forward to the discussions, acknowledging that while everybody wants to get something done quickly … we want to make sure it’s done right.

Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson met with the same group ahead of the president’s session, saying he was encouraged by the way all the parties have come together.

We’re moving quickly to do something that will make a difference this year in our economy, the secretary said. I’m very encouraged by the conversations we’ve all been able to have over the last weeks and days.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nevada, also attended the meeting. He urged other leaders there to get something done really quickly and set aside our individual ideology.

House Republican Leader John Boehner noted the growing problem with the U.S. economy and said it’s also clear that American middle-class families are being squeezed.

He pledged to work quickly with other leaders to get a package together.

The meetings followed an active morning on the economic front: After global markets swooned overnight, the Federal Reserve slashed two key interest rates by three-quarters of a percentage point after an unscheduled meeting. The Fed cited continued concerns about a weakening economy and turmoil in the financial markets.

The rate cut came more than a week before the Fed’s next regularly scheduled meeting. This was the biggest rate cut by the Fed since October 1984, and it was the first cut between regularly scheduled meetings since a half-point cut on the day the market reopened following the September 2001 terrorist attacks.

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, D-California, said the Fed’s emergency rate cut indicates a commitment across all levels of government to revitalize the economy, restore confidence in the markets, and help Americans struggling with soaring bills for gasoline, groceries, housing and home heating.

Congress is also taking action — working as quickly as possible in a bipartisan way with the Bush administration to stimulate the economy by putting money into the hands of people who will spend it. Any stimulus package will be timely, targeted, and temporary, and we are working with great speed to get this done and get relief to Americans, she said in a statement.

Paulson on Tuesday said that he hoped the rate cut would restore some confidence in the financial markets and U.S. economy.

I think it’s very constructive and what I think it shows to this country and to the rest of the world [is] that our central bank is nimble and able to move quickly, he said.

Bush on Friday proposed a temporary, broad-based tax relief package aimed at spurring the nation’s slowing economy, saying the nation’s economy is at risk for a downturn and Congress must act to head off trouble.

The president proposed the quick passage of a growth package that would infuse about $140 billion into the economy so we can provide a shot in the arm to keep a fundamentally strong economy healthy.

Bush said the economy will continue to grow but at a slower rate.

The president offered no specific details of the proposed package, but he did insist that it include tax incentives for business, including small businesses, to make major investments in their enterprises this year.

Bush also said the economic package must include rapid income tax relief for consumers to lift our economy at a time when people otherwise might spend less.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said on the Senate floor Tuesday the package needs to be passed in the next four weeks.

To be effective, this stimulus plan must be timely, it must be targeted and it must be temporary, said Reid, D-Nevada.

But when asked Tuesday morning if there would be a quick deal, House GOP Whip Roy Blunt said more time is needed to reach an agreement with the Democrats.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell warned the Dems not to include any wasteful spending, not to increase capital gains taxes and not to put in new taxes.

Republicans in the 110th Congress have shown that we will use our robust minority to ensure that we’re heard and use our power to object to any growth package that is held hostage to wasteful spending, he said on the Senate floor.

We need to put together a bipartisan package that helps the economy and do it soon, without raising taxes and without growing government, added the senator from Kentucky.
Bush: ‘Common ground’ possible on economic stimulus package – found here.

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January 22, 2008 - Posted by | Uncategorized

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