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Bush Downplays Political Dispute Over Economic Stimulus Plans - 2001-11-28


President Bush is increasing pressure on the U.S. Congress to pass legislation that would give the economy a boost. In a speech to a major farm group, the Farm Journal Corporation Convention, Mr. Bush said the economy can recover if Congress acts quickly.

The President made his pitch for an economic stimulus package three times Wednesday in public and in private. He met early in the day with congressional leaders, telling them action on the economy is crucial.

Later, at an appearance with Spanish leader Jose Maria Aznar, Mr. Bush said he believes lawmakers can overcome their differences and produce good legislation. "There are differences," he said. "But the differences aren't that big."

He carried on that theme in an address to a farm convention in Washington. Mr. Bush called on Capitol Hill Democrats and Republicans to come together and produce a package he can sign. "We are facing tough times," he said. "But if we act quickly, I am confident we can grow our economy."

President Bush said the American people want results. He said they realize the September 11 terrorist attacks made the nation's economic problems even worse. Mr. Bush said, "Americans know their economy was targeted by terror. And they are asking us to fight back and we must.

The disagreement is not over whether to pass an economic stimulus package, but how best to reverse the current downturn. The House, with its slim Republican majority, has already passed a version heavy on tax cuts. But the Democrats that control the Senate are fighting for legislation that relies more on government spending.

Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle told White House reporters there is still hope for compromise. Mr. Daschle said, "We recognize there are a lot of people out there who need help and we want to see if we can find a bipartisan way to provide it."

Meanwhile, the White House is saying it may take several years before the nation sees another federal budget surplus. Budget Director Mitch Daniels told the National Press Club in Washington that the budget may remain in deficit until the 2005 fiscal year. When asked about his prediction, White House spokesman Ari Fleischer said it's a good argument for passage of the president's economic stimulus plan.

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