The Washington Times - October 1, 2008, 12:49PM

The White House Wednesday said they feel “a sense of momentum” on the side of their economic rescue plan as evidence mounts that the credit crunch is affecting real Americans and not only wealthy Wall Street bankers.

“It is affecting real Americans out there. I think people are starting to notice this,” said White House spokesman Tony Fratto.

Senate Banking Committee Chairman Christopher Dodd told Bloomberg News that the White House had been “engaged much more aggressively than it has been.”

Mr. Fratto said the White House has been trying to persuade Congress “in as aggressive a way as possible.”

One day after blaming the media for labeling the administration’s plan a “bailout” of Wall Street, Mr. Fratto lauded the New York Times, usually the administration’s nemesis, for an article on Wednesday’s front page.

“This is might be a first. I’m going to recommend from this podium that you take a look at a story in the New York Times this morning,” Mr. Fratto said. “A really important story about … how the credit squeeze is facing municipalities across the country trying to issue bonds to fund things for their local spending.”

Mr. Fratto called this “increasing evidence of how the credit squeeze is affecting small businesses and municipalities across the country.”

President Bush had been on the phone with senators from both parties Wednesday morning, in anticipation of the vote later in the day to pass an amended rescue plan.

He was scheduled to eat lunch with Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson and Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke.

After the House rejected a bill on Monday, negotiators added a series of add-ons that include a patch for the alternative minimum tax, a lifting of federal banking insurance from $100,000 to $250,000 per account, and an extension of tax credits for businesses that use wind and solar power.

Mr. Fratto said the series of changes to the rescue plan “significantly improves the chances of [it] ultimately being passed.”