President Bush makes remarks on the economy joined by Vice President Dick Cheney, left, and Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson.
President Bush makes remarks on the economy joined by Vice President Dick Cheney, left, and Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson. - 
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Kai Ryssdal: It didn't take the president but five minutes this morning to announce what we all knew was coming:

President Bush: To keep our economy growing and creating jobs, Congress and the Administration need to work to enact an economic growth package as soon as possible.

He was careful not to steal his own thunder. The White House has been saying for a week or so we won't get any details of what the president wants stimulus-wise until the State of the Union at the end of the month, but we did get some hints.

Mr. Bush said today he wants about 1 percent of GDP's worth of stimulus -- that's about 140 billion dollars -- and he wants it mostly in the form of tax cuts.

Our Washington bureau chief John Dimsdale takes it from there:

John Dimsdale: President Bush wouldn't say exactly what kind of tax breaks he favors. Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson says that's because the White House is open to suggestions from Congress.

Democrats are targeting tax breaks and spending at lower income families, but the chairman of the President's Council of Economic Advisers, Edward Lazear, says low-income benefits are not the White House priority:

Edward Lazear: There are many noble goals and many things that we want the government to do, but remember that the goal that we are thinking about right now is to ensure that the economy does not slow significantly. We're trying to make sure that growth is enhanced.

To encourage companies to grow and hire, the Business Roundtable today urged President Bush to remember tax reductions for businesses. One idea that worked in 2002, says the Roundtable's John Castellani, is to allow businesses to write off their investments in factories and equipment more quickly.

John Castellani: It begins immediately. It has a positive cash flow effect as soon as you make the investment.

Treasury Secretary Paulson says he's ready to act as soon as lawmakers agree:

Henry Paulson: ...and I can tell you when we get the legislation we're going to run like a bunny here to get the relief out.

But don't look for cash rebate checks anytime soon. Former IRS Commissioner Sheldon Cohen says the agency is swamped as it is:

Sheldon Cohen: They're in the middle of gearing up for filing season right now. And you don't want to stop that process for the other one. That would be counterproductive.

Cohen says it'll be June at the earliest, assuming lawmakers pass a relatively simple set of tax breaks.

In Washington, I'm John Dimsdale for Marketplace.

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