Skip to main content

Bush: 'Common ground' possible on economic stimulus package

  • Story Highlights
  • NEW: Bush discusses economic stimulus package with congressional leadership
  • NEW: Senator majority leader wants to pass package by February 18
  • Federal Reserve issued emergency rate cuts Tuesday
  • Bush last week proposed quick, temporary tax relief to boost economy
  • Next Article in Politics »
Decrease font Decrease font
Enlarge font Enlarge font

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- President Bush, before meeting with the congressional leadership on Tuesday, said "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."

After emerging from the White House meeting, the Democratic congressional leadership vowed to pass a stimulus bill quickly.

"Our goal is to do it before we break for the President's Day recess to have something on the president's desk," said Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nevada, adding he hoped to pass something sooner. President's Day is February 18.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-California, said the stimulus package is urgent and calls for bipartisan work. She said the package should "instill confidence in the consumer and, hopefully, in the markets as well."

"But we haven't been into particulars yet," she said.

Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson met with the same group before the president's session, and said 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."

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.

Don't Miss

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 after the September 2001 terrorist attacks.

Paulson Tuesday said 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 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."

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

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Kentucky, warned the Democrats 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," McConnell said. E-mail to a friend E-mail to a friend

CNN's Deirdre Walsh, Ted Barrett, Lesa Jansen and Paul R. La Monica contributed to this report.

All About U.S. Federal ReserveNational EconomyGeorge W. Bush

  • E-mail
  • Save
  • Print