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Economic stimulus

The government announced Friday that unemployment was up last month, to 5 percent. Given rising oil prices and the ongoing housing slump, that was enough for the president to convene his panel of economic advisers late last week.

Mr. Bush described the nation’s economic indicators as mixed, but lauded the “strong and solid” financial markets. He also emphasized that it would be disastrous at this point for Congress to consider raising taxes — another reminder that his administration’s tax cuts are set to soon expire.

But of greater interest than the rhetoric, the president hinted that in his State of the Union address later this month he may propose another stimulus package that could include direct tax cuts such as the $300 rebates most individuals received in 2001 in an effort to fight off a potential recession.

This is not a bad idea. Leaving money in the hands of those who earned it is the best recipe for economic expansion.

But 2008 is an election year. Since taking over Congress in 2006, Democratic leaders have made it a priority to appeal to their liberal base by playing chicken with the White House. It will be fun to see how long they’ll stick with that strategy when the result would be to bottle up a tax rebate for millions of hard-working Americans soon heading for the polls.

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