President-elect George W. Bush got a late holiday gift from economic wise man Alan Greenspan. The Federal Reserve delivered an unexpected interest rate cut Wednesday that sent the markets surging. If the rally holds up, some economic sunshine may yet greet Bush when he takes office.
Yet Bush insists that the rate cut is not enough. The president-elect emerged from a closed-door huddle with his top supporters and campaign donors in the business sector, and declared that -- surprise, surprise -- his $1.3 billion tax cut package is crucial to continued prosperity. "It's really important for members of the Congress to understand that the tax relief plan I've put forth is an integral part of economic recovery," Bush said.
Though it's not likely to talk taxes on Thursday, Congress will start reviewing Bush's Cabinet nominations, holding a confirmation hearing for would-be Commerce Secretary Donald Evans.
On Wednesday, Congress had its hands full rolling out the welcome wagon for its new members. The junior senator from New York, Hillary Rodham Clinton, officially took office as the president and their daughter, Chelsea, beamed down on her from the Senate chamber's visitors gallery. And it wasn't just Democrats who embraced the first lady. Mississippi Sen. Strom Thurmond gave Clinton a big congratulatory hug that kept going, and going, and ...
While Sen. Clinton was all smiles with her new GOP friends, her husband seems determined to fight them to the end. With a temporary Senate majority at his disposal thanks to Vice President Al Gore's tie-breaking vote, the president resubmitted eight nominees for appellate court judgeships. Democrats have repeatedly accused Republicans of trying to run out the clock on Clinton's judicial nominations.
Bush might have a spare finger to poke in Clinton's eye in return. USA Today reports that Bush has asked FBI director Louis Freeh to stay on until 2003. Freeh earned praise from Republicans for publicly recommending that an independent counsel investigate Gore's fundraising activities.
-- Alicia Montgomery [6 a.m. PST, Jan. 4, 2001]