WASHINGTON -- The White House, showing signs of indecision over how to stimulate the economy, apparently is backing away from recommending new tax cuts and is raising the possibility that it may not propose any economic recovery plan.
White House spokesman Marlin Fitzwater indicated yesterday that President Bush wants to assess upcoming economic data before deciding on a course of action, despite increasing calls on Capitol Hill from Republicans and Democrats for immediate steps to jump-start the nation's economy.
The caution contrasts with White House statements earlier in the week suggesting that an economic recovery plan could be unveiled by week's end.
The mixed signals reflect disagreement within the administration over economic policy, with some officials pushing for a package of tax cuts and others contending that the economy is recovering from the recession on its own.
"The country is obviously concerned about coming out of the recession," Fitzwater said. "So are we. We do believe that we are in a period of recovery, but it is slower than hoped for."
But on Capitol Hill, the clamor is growing for tax breaks for the middle class as a way of spurring consumer spending and boosting economic growth.
Republicans and Democrats in Congress have been suggesting various tax-relief packages in recent days, but there is no consensus yet on the details or timing of a bill. With Congress due to adjourn for the year by Thanksgiving, it appears unlikely that any legislation would be enacted this year.
A centerpiece of the GOP plans is a proposed reduction in the tax rate on capital gains, while Democrats are more likely to suggest tax breaks for middle-class families with children and tax increases for the rich.