President Bush says he wants as much as $150 billion of tax relief to stimulate the U.S. economy, which has been hurt by rising energy prices, a steep housing slump and problems in the manufacturing sector.
Bush says his top economic advisers are working with Congress
on an economic growth package to encourage greater consumer and corporate
spending as soon as possible.
"By passing an effective growth package quickly, we can provide a shot in the arm to keep a fundamentally strong economy healthy, and it will help keep economic sectors that are going through adjustments, such as the housing market, from adversely affecting other parts of our economy," he said.
While insisting that the economic stimulus must be temporary, Mr. Bush says it must also be big enough to make a difference. He is proposing it be equal to one percent of the value of all U.S. goods and services, which would amount to between $140 billion and $150 billion.
The president says he remains optimistic about the overall strength of the U.S. economy, but there is now the risk of a downturn.
Mr. Bush told reporters at the White House that he wants direct and rapid tax incentives so businesses can make major investments this year as well as refunds for taxpayers to boost consumer spending.
"Letting Americans keep more of their own money should increase consumer spending and lift our economy at a time when people otherwise might spend less," he added.
President Bush spoke Thursday with leaders of both political parties in both houses of Congress. He says he believes a deal can be worked out soon.
Opposition Democrats say they also want to reach a deal quickly. House Speaker, Democrat Nancy Pelosi says she is hopeful that bipartisan negotiations over the next few days will bring about an agreement on timely, targeted, and temporary assistance.
Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson is leading White House efforts to reach agreement with Congress. He refused to respond to published reports saying the plan may include an $800 tax rebate for individuals.
"We intentionally don't want to be overly specific, because again we are looking to be collaborative, and there is a lot of bipartisan agreement," he added.
While President Bush says he is still determined to make his record tax
cuts permanent, he removed what would have been a big obstacle by agreeing
not to include that demand in this request for temporary economic stimulus.
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