WASHINGTON – Amid new worries about a possible recession, the housing slump and rising oil prices, President Bush is exploring an economic stimulus package to reinforce the U.S. economy.
White House press secretary Dana Perino said Thursday that Bush is closely monitoring economic trends and is seeking input from his economic advisers on the pros and cons of such a package.
"The president has indicated that he will not make up his mind as to whether or not to lay out a package until the State of the Union," Perino said about the president's speech on Jan. 28. "Our economic policy is like our military policy. It is based on conditions on the ground and the president listens to advice from his economic advisers."
On Friday, Bush will receive an update from a working group on financial markets, an interagency panel that meets regularly to discuss market conditions and regulatory policy. Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson is chairman of the group. The other members are: Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke; Chris Cox, chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission; and Walt Lukken, acting director of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission.
The Commerce Department reported Thursday that orders for manufactured goods rose by 1.5 percent in November, the biggest rise since a 3.4 percent surge in July. But the increase reflected higher petroleum prices and was not seen as a sign of renewed strength in the nation's manufacturing sector.
The Federal Reserve cut a key rate three times last year. Many economists predict there will be more rate cuts to come to help energize a weakening economy.
The president says he knows the public is frustrated and restless about the economy, and that his administration is trying to help people deal with their mortgage crises, energy bills and education concerns.
In his end-of-the-year message, Bush said, "The underpinnings of our economy have proven strong, competitive, and resilient enough to overcome the challenges we face."