Bush team says economy headed upward

WASHINGTON -- Two members of President Bush's economic team expressed confidence Thursday that the current recovery is in no danger of stalling despite the recent stock market swoon.

"It's not a rocket shot, but it's not terrible either," Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neill said of the recovery.

O'Neill and Commerce Secretary Don Evans said the president has not yet decided whether any new government stimulus measures are needed although Evans said Bush would sign a measure being pushed by House Republicans.

O'Neill and Evans met with reporters following the weekly White House luncheon held by the president's economic team, a group under increasing fire from Democrats hoping to gain political advantage with voters worried about the uncertain economic recovery and the falling stock market.

Senate and House Democrats were staging their own economic summit Friday to highlight what they see as failings in Bush's management of the economy. Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle told reporters Thursday that Bush should replace his current team of economic advisers.

"I think the American people would respond very favorably if they saw the president clean house, start over, do something of consequence to change the economic track we are on right now," said Daschle, D-S.D.

But Evans and O'Neill, at a separate news conference, said they believed the economy was recovering. O'Neill stuck by his assessment that the economy would be growing at a solid rate of between 3 percent and 3.5 percent in the final three months of this year.

That view is at odds with the current forecast of private economists who have been cutting their fourth quarter growth estimates in light of a renewed drop in stock prices and mixed economic statistics.

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