- The Washington Times - Sunday, February 3, 2002

Sen. Dianne Feinstein, one of a dozen Senate Democrats who supported President Bush's $1.35 trillion tax cut last year, says she will oppose an economic-stimulus bill, because the economy appears to be improving on its own.
This puts the California Democrat at odds with the Bush administration, which insists legislation to help boost the economy is still necessary, despite signs of recovery.
"I don't intend to vote for a stimulus plan. I don't think it is necessary or warranted . I think we're on the brink of recovery," Mrs. Feinstein, a member of the Appropriations Committee, said yesterday in an interview on CNN's "Target: Terrorism."
However, she said she will "submit an amendment" to extend unemployment benefits for an additional 13 weeks and to make "some Medicaid fixes" that would cost about $5 billion.
Mrs. Feinstein made her remarks at the end of a week in which Federal Reserve Board Chairman Alan Greenspan told a Senate committee he does not think a stimulus package is "critically important." It was also a week in which the board failed to cut interest rates and the latest unemployment figures showed their first decline since the September 11 attacks.
Mr. Bush, in his State of the Union address Tuesday night, made clear he still wants Congress to pass a bill to help the economy recover. Mitchell E. Daniels Jr., director of the White House Office of Management and Budget, defended the administration's position in an interview yesterday on CNN's "Novak, Hunt & Shields."
Co-host Robert Novak noted that House Majority Whip Tom DeLay, Texas Republican, is calling for a balanced budget in the next fiscal year. Mr. DeLay and some other conservative House Republicans are fearful that a return to deficit spending triggered by spending increases Mr. Bush is seeking to fight terrorism and to help secure the economy could hurt the party in the November general elections.
Mr. Novak asked Mr. Daniels if he believes the stimulus plan should be set aside to avert deficit spending. "No, I don't, and the president doesn't either. His position is, we ought to leave nothing to chance," said the budget director.
Mr. Daniels agreed the economy is showing "encouraging signs." But he added that the president "would rather act, try to ensure that recovery comes quick and comes strong."
The president, he said, "has always said throughout his career that recession was one of the acceptable justifications for temporary red ink."
Mr. Novak charged that House Republicans are not eager to renew a fight with Senate Democrats, who last year failed to vote on an economic-stimulus bill that was passed by the House the day before Congress adjourned for its Christmas recess.
Mr. Daniels countered that he spent time with House and Senate Republicans at their retreat last week in Greenbrier, W.Va. "I think there's a lot of sentiment for moving forward," he said.
But he acknowledged there is "some very natural and appropriate concern that we get a genuine jobs package, one that does grow the economy, and isn't simply a mish-mash of spending and palliative measures that don't bring the recovery on sooner."
Mr. Daniels said the president would be willing to accept reshaping the current package to provide more stimulus. But he gave no indication that the changes might include holidays from either sales taxes or payroll taxes. "We did not believe those were relatively as effective as the proposals in the package which got within a couple yards of the goal line in the Senate," he said.
"We still believe rate reductions, immediate help for consumers at the low end, and something to stimulate business investment is the right combination," he said.

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