White House cools on 2nd stimulus plan

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The White House on Tuesday tempered its enthusiasm for more government intervention to jump-start the slumping economy, saying it prefers to let its initial $700 billion plan work its course before a new program is implemented.

“We have a lot of money that’s in the pipeline,” White House spokeswoman Dana Perino told reporters. “It’s going to take a little while to work, but we think that’s the best way to stimulate the economy right now.”

The administration was not proposing a second economic stimulus package, Mr. Perino said.

Mrs. Perino said she wasn’t aware of any negotiations between the administration and congressional Democrats who are pushing for a second stimulus package — reversing comments she made Monday that the administration was “continuing to have conversations with Congress” on the matter.

The spokeswoman said the administration remains “open to listening to all good ideas that people want to put forward” but added “so far we have not seen that.”

“We’ve seen a lot of campaign talking points but nothing that would actually stimulate the economy,” she said. “I don’t think there was something that could even pass the current Congress.”

The White House comments came a day after Federal Reserve Chairman Ben S. Bernanke urged Congress to pass legislation to counter what he said could be a long and deep downturn in the economy.

“With the economy likely to be weak for several quarters, and with some risk of a protracted slowdown, consideration of a fiscal package by the Congress at this juncture seems appropriate,” Mr. Bernanke told the House Budget Committee on Monday.

But he stressed that Congress should not abandon all fiscal discipline in its attempts to prop up the economy.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, California Democrat, has said Congress may convene after the Nov. 4 elections to pass a stimulus package that could cost at least $150 billion that could include a second round of tax cuts, aid for state and local governments and and an extension of unemployment benefits.

The White House opposes any plan that would include a tax increase.

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