The Obama team won't seek another spending jolt for the US economy, the Treasury secretary said Sunday, until it assesses effects of the first one.
CBS Face the Nation/Karin Cooper/AP
Despite some calls for a second fiscal stimulus package, the Obama administration has no immediate plans to ask Congress for another spending bill to help the American economy.
Instead, the administration says it will monitor the economy to see how much help comes from the $787 billion stimulus package enacted Feb. 17.
“We can’t make that judgment [to ask for more money] at this time,” said US Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner, in answer to a question Sunday on CBS’s “Face the Nation.” “First we have to do with what we have.”
Mr. Geithner, expressing some optimism, cited progress in areas where the administration and the Federal Reserve have intervened so far. He specifically pointed to mortgage rates, which “are at their lowest point.”
On Friday, the rate on a conventional 30-year, fixed mortgage fell to 4.78 percent, down from 4.85 percent the previous week, said Freddie Mac, the government-run corporation that buys and guarantees mortgage loans. This is the lowest rate since Freddie Mac started keeping track of rates in 1971. A year ago, the rate for such a mortgage was 5.88 percent.
Geithner cited “encouraging signs” that the economy is starting to bottom out. But he warned that the economy, now in its fifth quarter of recession, would make progress in “fits and starts.”
This month, for example, 95 percent of working Americans will see a slight increase in their take-home pay as part of a reduction in the amount of money withheld for taxes, a provision of the fiscal stimulus package. Moreover, 55 million Americans living on Supplemental Security Income (SSI) or Social Security may qualify for a one-time $250 check to be mailed in late May.