President Bush tells aides he expects mounting pressure from Congress and the media over the next few weeks to take more federal action to improve the troubled economy, but he plans to hold steady in resisting what he considers excessive intervention. He notes that the massive economic stimulus bill that was approved earlier this year has yet to be felt by everyday consumers, who can expect several hundred dollars apiece from the federal government, depending on their income. "The first 'stimulus check' hasn't gone out the door yet," says a senior White House official. Bush's attitude is, "Let the stimulus do its job," the official says. The president, however, is keenly aware that many Americans are hurting, and he keeps a close watch on economic developments. "He asks three or four times a day how the markets are," says another senior adviser. Bush is confident that the downturn will end soon, and he believes he won't have to take any further steps to intervene in the economy, the official says.
On a related matter, Sen. John McCain's call for a suspension of federal gasoline taxes this summer hasn't stirred much interest in the West Wing, even though McCain is the presumptive Republican presidential candidate and Bush wants to help him win the November election. The problem, in the view of at least some White House insiders, is that it's unclear how McCain would make up the lost revenue. And Bush thinks it's premature to take such action now.