President George W. Bush and Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neill today urged Congress to approve a stimulus plan of between $60 billion and $75 billion to avert a possible recession in the wake of the September 11 terrorist attacks.
According to several media sources, President Bush said he has considered individual tax rebates or accelerating the tax cuts approved earlier this year. For businesses, the President said corporate tax cuts and investment tax credits are among the options.
''We've just got to be aggressive and make sure we do what we need to do at the federal level to provide a kick-start to give people reason to be confident, and we will do that,'' Bush said after a meeting with business executives in New York.
The President’s comments came shortly after O'Neill told the Senate Finance Committee in prepared testimony that he now expects negative real growth in the current quarter, but similar poor performance could be avoided in the fourth quarter if consumer confidence quickly rebounds.
O'Neill said the President has asked him to work with Congress to develop an additional fiscal 2002 economic stimulus plan. It would bring the total stimulus approved by the government since the attacks to more than the $100 billion many economists believe is needed to be effective.
Congress has already passed a $40-billion emergency spending plan and a $15-billion airline aid package.
"The depth of this contraction, as well as the pace at which the economy returns to a healthy rate of growth, will depend in large part on how fast consumers regain their confidence and on our success in incorporating new protections against terrorist acts without material reductions in productivity," O'Neill said.