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White House open to second stimulus
Question of the Day
Mr. Bernanke declined to say how big the package should be - only that it should be “significant” - and should be designed to stimulate growth immediately. While increasing the budget deficit is “unavoidable” in the short term, he said, Congress should try to limit the impact of the bill on the deficit over the long term.
“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,” he said. But he stressed that Congress should not abandon all fiscal discipline in its attempts to prop up the economy.
Mr. Bernanke made a strong pitch for including in the bill help for homeowners, consumers and businesses that are having trouble securing loans, and he mentioned specific proposals. Congress might consider loan guarantees or partial guarantees, he said, as well as tax credits for home purchases and paying guarantee fees charged by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac on behalf of homebuyers.
“The extraordinary tightening in credit conditions has played a central role in the slowdown thus far and could be an important factor delaying the recovery,” he said. “If the Congress proceeds with a fiscal package, it should consider including measures to help improve access to credit by consumers, homebuyers, businesses and other borrowers.”
Separately Monday, Treasury Secretary Henry M. Paulson Jr. said he did not expect the bank rescue plan to add to the deficit.
“This is an investment, not an expenditure, and there is no reason to expect this program will cost taxpayers anything,” he said at a Treasury Department briefing on the program.
• David R. Sands and Sean Lengell contributed to this report.
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