WASHINGTON &

President Bush backs tax rebates as the best way to stimulate the economy, but will not detail how big they should be, an administration official said today.




Democratic congressional leaders agree that one-time checks should be in the package, but are working on a broader measure that would also include aid targeted to the poor and unemployed. Bush planned to lay out his position publicly for the first time later today, first in remarks at the White House and later at a Frederick, Md., manufacturing plant.




White House spokesman Tony Fratto said earlier that Bush also will outline about how much the government should spend in order for the short-term growth package to be effective. This new White House bottom line likely would significantly shape the president's negotiations with Congress.




"It's hard sometimes for people to understand how large this economy is," Fratto said. "So he'll have something to say about how large a package."




Fratto said there are many ways to get quick agreement so that a measure can be in place and start working. Bush chose to lay out "principles" with few specifics to the American people now, while bipartisan negotiations with Capitol Hill are taking place privately. The White House feels Bush was out of the mix for too long, because he was away for eight days in the Mideast while Democratic leaders talked almost daily about the need to stimulate the economy &

and how.




"What he believes is that we've got to do something that is robust. It's going to be temporary and get money into the economy quickly," Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson said today on CBS's "The Early Show." "It's going to be focused on consumers, individuals, families &

putting money in their pocket. And it's going to be focused on giving businesses the incentive to hire people, to create jobs."




Bush has gone down the tax rebate road before. Back in 2001, he added refunds of up to $300 per individual and $600 per household as a recession-fighting element of the tax cut plan that had been the centerpiece of his 2000 campaign.




Economists said a reasonable range for tax cuts in the new package might be $500 to $1,000. A White House plan is looking at rebates of up to $800 for individuals and $1,600 for married couples under a White House plan.




Bush first signaled his support for the approach of income tax rebates for people and tax breaks for business investment in a conference call Thursday with bipartisan congressional leaders.