Bush said considering speech to nation on economy

September 24, 2008 8:42:00 AM PDT
Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke told Congress Wednesday that economic growth depends on stabilizing financial institutions as the White House said President Bush is weighing a speech to the nation about turmoil in the markets. In remarks to the Joint Economic Committee of Congress, Bernanke said the Fed will "act as needed" to minimize the disruptions to business life. His appearance came not long after Bush said he was confident his administration and Congress could reach agreement soon on a "robust" plan to relieve the stress.

Lawmakers have voiced skepticism about the the administration's $700 billion bailout plan, however, and both Bernanke and Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson heard skeptical statements from Senate Banking Committee members when they went to Capitol Hill Tuesday to plea for passage of the plan.

Meanwhile, Bush's chief spokeswoman, Dana Perino, revealed the president's thinking about a national speech and said the country is at risk of a "calamity" without bold action to calm down the markets and soothe nervous Americans.

Amid a rash of statements of anger and doubt about the administration bailout plan on Capitol Hill, Sen. Lindsey Graham said Wednesday that "it's not my job to just echo people being mad. I'm going to chose the bad choice over the catastrophic choice."

Speaking to South Carolina reporters, the Republican said, "We don't have the luxury of kicking this can down the road like we did with immigration or social security and dealing with it another day hoping somebody braver than us will come along and have courage that we can't muster to deal with immigration or social security. This is on our watch."

Reflecting the urgency of the situation, White House officials revealed that Bush had taken Air Force One back to Washington from a meeting of the U.N. General Assembly in New York and said he was canceling a planned fund-raising trip to Florida to help the Republican Party. Bush had canceled a similar trip last week.

She said Bush has been trying to address the public's many questions and concerns and was weighing whether, when and where to have such a speech.


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