Bush calls on Congress to pass $140 billion stimulus package
Democratic congressional leaders hope to have a final deal by Jan. 28.
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As negotiations continue, both ends of Pennsylvania Avenue are sweeping aside what could be obstacles to an emerging consensus. The president confirmed on Friday that he will not push to include in the stimulus plan a permanent extension of income- and other tax cuts, set to expire in 2010.Skip to next paragraph
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"Passing a new growth package is our most pressing economic priority," he said. "When that is done, Congress must turn to the most important economic priority for our country, and that's making sure the tax relief that is now in place is not taken away."
Meanwhile, Democrats say they will not push for infrastructure or social-spending programs that could derail a stimulus plan.
"There's a real attitude of cooperation between the parties and at each end of Pennsylvania Avenue right now, and I think that's because people realize the precarious state of our economy right now," said Sen. Charles Schumer (D) of New York, who chairs the Joint Economic Committee.
"Middle-class families should get the lion's share of the rebates and they will spend them," he said in a phone briefing after the president's remarks. But he said that Democrats are not rejecting the president's call to also include tax cuts for business, including small business.
"We don't rule that off the table at all, but it has to be focused and targeted so it gets money back into the economy quickly," Senator Schumer added.
As Washington's vast lobbyist community gears up to slip new tax breaks or incentives into the plan, Bush administration officials are urging Congress to keep the plan simple.
"We believe there is a great benefit to being simple," said Paulson, who is leading negotiations for the White House on Capitol Hill. "The Christmas season has come and gone. We're not trying to decorate a Christmas tree here. If we can stay broad-based and simple, we'll be able to be quicker and be able to have a bigger impact on the economy sooner."
The White House's principles for negotiation, released Friday, urge building a stimulus package on tax relief for American businesses and individuals, rather than new federal spending "that would have little impact on the economy." The plan should be temporary, take effect immediately, and not include any tax increases.
"If we can work together to keep partisanship from infecting this process, we can quickly have a significant accomplishment to start the year – and a template for making law, not just making a point."
Speaker Pelosi says that she expects agreement on the principles of a plan by Tuesday, when congressional leaders meet with the president in the White House.
Congressional leadership aides say that a final deal is likely by the president's State of the Union address on Jan. 28.