WASHINGTON U.S. President Barack Obama's administration is not discussing a second stimulus plan to jolt the U.S. economy out of recession, a White House budget official told Congress on Wednesday.
"No one in the administration is talking about a second stimulus at this point," said Robert Nabors, deputy director of the Office of Management and Budget, who is tracking the effects of the economic recovery plan already in effect.
But the White House press secretary, speaking to reporters aboard Air Force One, suggested that could change if the country continues to lose jobs.
Nabors testified at a House of Representatives hearing on oversight of the $787 billion stimulus plan.
"What we are focused on right now is implementing the recovery act that Congress has already passed," he added.
Press Secretary Robert Gibbs said Obama is "not ruling anything out, but at the same time he's not ruling anything in" on another stimulus.
"We continue to watch what's going on," Gibbs said. "I think the bottom line for the president is, if there are steps that he thinks, and his team thinks, need to be taken to improve our economy, we won't hesitate to do that.
Obama is meeting this week with leaders of the Group of Eight major industrial nations in L'Aquila, Italy, to discuss solutions for the languishing world economy.
World markets, which had been recovering since March, have recently lost ground, in part because comments by an Obama economic adviser were seen as signaling a U.S. recovery was farther off than hoped. The Dow average fell 1 percent on Wednesday but later pared some of its losses to 8,120.
Laura D'Andrea Tyson, an economist who advised Obama during the 2008 campaign and is a member of his economic advisory panel, said on Tuesday that the United States should be planning for a possible second round of fiscal stimulus that focused on infrastructure investment.
Nabors told the hearing Tyson did not represent the White House.
"She's an outside economic adviser. She does not work for the administration," Nabors said.
When he signed the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act into law in February, Obama hailed it as key to creating and saving jobs during the longest U.S. recession since the Great Depression of the 1930s. But with the unemployment rate now standing at 9.5 percent, its highest in more than two decades, some are wondering if the various tax and spending measures can accomplish that mission.
House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer said on Tuesday that U.S. leaders should be open to a second stimulus, but Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, also a Democrat, has said he sees no evidence another recovery package is needed.
Nabors said the country's losing 467,000 jobs in June was "unacceptable," but he noted that the rate of loss was much slower than during the first quarter of the fiscal year when the average monthly job loss was 691,000 jobs.
He said other indicators, such as orders for durable goods, were turning upward, showing the stimulus was having a positive impact and in the near future the country would see "genuine economic expansion and crucial job creation."
(Additional reporting by Jeff Mason in L'Aquila, Italy and Susan Cornwell and Jeremy Pelofsky in Washington)