WASHINGTON (CNN) - Some congressional Democrats are criticizing President Bush for his decision to deliver remarks Friday outlining his principles regarding a stimulus package, saying the president should wait until lawmakers and the White House reach a compromise on what will be in the package before anything is unveiled.
One source went so far as to say a conference call between congressional leaders and the White House Thursday afternoon on the stimulus “didn’t go well” because of the president’s insistence on delivering the speech despite direct pleas from Democratic leaders to hold off.
Bush’s decision to go forward is unlikely to stall talks on the bill, one source said, but does detract from the bipartisan spirit that has marked talks this week on the proposal.
Shortly after the call, White House officials called back to congressional participants to ensure them the president’s remarks Friday would be general, according to two sources, including a Democratic leadership source.
The conference call was light on specifics of what should be in an economic stimulus package but “there seems to continue to be a consensus to try and do something together and that we should do it quickly,” the Democratic leadership source said.
Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson mentioned accelerating depreciation and the concept of rebates and said “there seems to be an agreement on rebates” the source said.
The White House did not push the notion of extending the 2001 and 2003 tax cuts which the Democratic leadership source described as “hugely helpful.”
After the discussion with President Bush Thursday, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid told reporters that he was encouraged by the acknowledgement of economic problems, but "disappointed that he is rejecting a request from leaders of both parties and both chambers to work with us directly to develop a bipartisan package rather than unilaterally detailing his own approach without Congressional input.
"The President’s strategy threatens to unnecessarily politicize the inevitable bipartisan negotiations we will need to quickly enact legislation."
UPDATE: Republican and Democratic House leaders emerged from an hour-and-a-half long meeting on the stimulus with very little detail on what will be in the package, but a continuing commitment to get something done quickly together.
Asked about Reid's charge that President Bush is moving ahead unilaterally, Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, D-Md, said "my impression after the call is that the President's not going to go off unilaterally."
Hoyer said he had not talked directly to the White House about what the President would say, but that others have talked to Secretary Paulson.
House Republican Leader John Boehner, R-Ohio, brushed off any suggestion that President was getting out ahead of leaders tomorrow with his planned remarks, potentially hurting bipartisan talks on the Hill, saying "all that was resolved.”
"He's going to talk about the problem, the need to respond, the need to work in a bipartisan way and probably outline some broad principles about what we ought to be doing,." Boehner said.
On whether the principles the President will outline match what Congressional leaders are discussing, Boehner said he didn’t know what principles Bush would lay out, but added that “I don’t think they'll be inconsistent with what we've been talking about."