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Democrats Offer Economic Stimulus Program to Counter Bush's - 2003-01-07

Congressional Democrats have unveiled a plan to stimulate the U.S. economy the move coming only a day before President Bush formally announces his own plan. One day before the 108th Congress convenes, Democrats tried to get out ahead of President Bush's formal announcement of his own package of proposals to get the economy moving.

Now in the minority in both the Senate and the House of Representatives, Democrats have decided to continue hammering the Bush administration on the economy.

House Democratic leader, Nancy Pelosi, appeared with several other lawmakers at a Capitol Hill news conference. "A plan that is a real stimulus, that is fair and fast-acting, and that is fiscally responsible," he said. "We are doing so, because there is tremendous need in our country. [Under]the Bush administration joblessness is rampant. It is the first presidency in modern history where the jobs are going below the line instead of increasing."

In Chicago Tuesday, Mr. Bush is scheduled to announce a $600-billion plan involving a series of tax reductions over 10 years.

However, Democrats contend Mr. Bush's focus on cutting dividend taxes to encourage corporate investment will not help lower and middle class Americans.

At the White House, presidential spokesman Ari Fleischer rejected charges Mr. Bush's proposal favors the rich. "The people who suffer from the biggest deficits in our society are the people who don't have a job, and he wants to put a plan in place to help give a boost to the economy, to give a boost to business investment, to give a boost to American taxpayers so that more jobs are created so that people can go about earning income and feeding their families," he said.

Democrats respond that the Bush plan, expected to receive support in the Republican-controlled Congress, doesn't go far enough to help the economy in the short-term. They say their proposals will help create jobs, and assist cash-strained state and city governments.

"The President's plan is too little, too late, and much too irresponsible," said New Jersey Congressman Robert Menendez. "The Democratic plan is significant, fast-acting, and fiscally responsible. We stimulate the job market, the President's plan stimulates the stock market. The Democratic plan helps all Americans. The President's plan helps mostly wealthy Americans."

Economic difficulties facing Americans remain the key issue Democrats hope to use to recover from their political losses in last November's congressional elections.

With Republicans controlling the House and Senate, President Bush is in a strong position to advance his initiatives.

The White House hopes Mr. Bush's plan will blunt Democratic attempts to use the economy as an issue leading to the 2004 presidential election.