President Bush urged lawmakers on Tuesday to move quickly in putting into force legislation designed to help prop up mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac while declaring the nation's financial system to be "basically sound."
He also called on the Democratic-run Congress to follow his example and lift a ban on offshore drilling to help increase domestic oil production.
"I readily concede it won't produce a barrel of oil tomorrow, but it will reverse the psychology," Bush told a White House news conference.
Bush said the two troubled mortgage companies play a central role in the nation's housing-finance system and that government action to help them were not bailouts, since the two would remain shareholder-owned companies.
"I don't think the government ought to be involved in bailing out companies," Bush said.
Amid soaring gas prices, the toughest real estate market in decades, falling home prices and financing that's harder to come by, Bush said: "It's been a difficult time for many American families." But he also said that the nation's economy continues to grow, if slowly.
Bush said that despite the woes of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac and the recent government takeover of California bank IndyMac, U.S. depositors should not worry because their deposits are insured by the government up to $100,000