Paulson Says Need Fiscal Stimulus Urgent

U.S. Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson Friday said that there was an urgent need for a fiscal stimulus program to give the slowing economy a boost but said it was not in danger of stalling.

United States Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson
Lefteris Pitarakis
United States Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson

"This is not an emergency. There is an urgent need," Paulson said on NBC television about rapidly-moving plans to develop a rescue plan for an economy hit by a housing crisis, a credit crunch and soaring oil prices.

President George W. Bush is to outline his plans for a stimulus package later on Friday.

"The long-term fundamentals of our economy are strong," Paulson said. "We believe the economy is going to continue to grow slowly here, but it has slowed down and the risks are to the downside and the President is very focused on taking actions quickly that will give a boost to our economy as soon as possible this year."

Paulson, who headed Wall Street giant Goldman Sachs before he became Treasury Secretary, made the rounds of all three major television networks to offer a message of reassurance that the Bush administration was intent on getting agreement on a stimulus package quickly.

"There's broad agreement by the President obviously and throughout Congress that we need to do something that's going to be robust, we need to do something that's going to be temporary and we need to do something that's going to get money into the economy quickly," he said on ABC television.

In response to a question, he said that in order to be effective a stimulus package should be in place within a matter of weeks.

Pressed on the timing of a package, which requires agreement between Congress and the White House, Paulson declined, during a CBS television interview, to be specific.

"I'm not going to say that it can be done in less than a month but what I am going to say is that there is a broad finding something that is focused on this year...and that's going to get money into the economy quickly because that's where the need is right now," Paulson said.