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Bush Works to Finalize Economic Stimulus Plan - 2003-01-05

President Bush is back at the White House after a holiday break at Camp David and his Texas ranch. He is monitoring international developments and putting the final touches on a proposal to stimulate the U.S. economy.

The president is expected to unveil the plan in a few days and already the political battle lines are being drawn.

His package of economic proposals is expected to include steps to encourage business investment, such as a cut in the taxes paid on stock dividends.

Supporters in Congress say the goal is to give the business community incentives to grow and create more jobs.

Senator Don Nickels, an Oklahoma Republican, defended the idea during an appearance on American television. He told NBC's Meet the Press that it is not a plan designed to help the wealthy, but to build the economy in a way that benefits all Americans.

"A lot of people want to play class warfare," he said. "I think what the president is interested in doing and what I am interested in doing is growing the economy."

Appearing on the same program, Senator Harry Reid took issue with the accusation that Democrats are playing politics with the economy by claiming the president's plan focuses too much on the rich. In a preview of the congressional debate to come, the Nevada Democrat fired back at the Republicans.

"The reason my friend Senator Nickles mentioned class warfare is that they are the ones that are creating it, not us," he said. "When they direct tax programs to benefit very, very, very few and eliminate the majority from any benefit of the tax cuts, it is class war. That's their job, creating class warfare. It's not ours."

The president will formally put his plan forward Tuesday during a speech to a business group in Chicago. Democrats indicate they intend to release their own set of economic proposals Monday as lawmakers begin to return to Washington for the start of the new legislative session.