President Bush is open to the idea of a second government stimulus to further boost the U.S. economy amid the financial crisis, the White House said Monday.
White House press secretary Dana Perino said Bush's endorsement of a second stimulus would depend on the details of legislation drafted by Congress. Perino said the administration had concerns that what's been put forward so far by Democratic leaders in Congress would not actually energize the economy.
"We'll remain open to the idea and then we'll just have to see when Congress gets back if they decide to move forward what sort of package they want to draft into legislation ... and see if it actually would stimulate the economy," she told reporters aboard Air Force One en route to Alexandria, La., where Bush was meeting with local business leaders.
On Capitol Hill, Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke said he too was in favor of another round of stimulus.
"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," Bernanke testified.
Pressed for how large the stimulus package should be, Bernanke demurred, saying that was up to Congress. But he said the size should be "significant."
Earlier this year, Congress enacted a $168 billion stimulus package that included tax rebates for people and tax breaks for businesses. The rebate checks of up to $600 per person did help to lift economic growth in the spring.
However, consumers cut back sharply as rising unemployment, harder-to-get credit, shrinking paychecks and falling home values made people much more cautious. In turn, businesses - worried about customers' flagging appetites - also have retrenched.