President George W. Bush will wrap up conferring with his economic team on Friday on ways to keep the economy growing against a backdrop of higher interest rates, mixed data and fears of rising inflation.
His closed-door meetings with new Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson, Commerce Secretary Carlos Gutierrez and Director of the National Economic Council Allan Hubbard, began on Thursday evening at the Camp David presidential retreat.
The President and his economic team will be talking about the general macroeconomic picture and job growth, White House spokeswoman Dana Perino said.
They will discuss the budget both as a short-term and as a long-term entitlement spending issue, she said. And they will focus on financial markets and pro-growth tax policy.
Bush is scheduled to speak with reporters at 11:15 a.m. EDT on Friday.
The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office on Thursday forecast the government budget deficit would rise to $286 billion in fiscal 2007, up from $260 billion this year.
Bush has called for Congress to address one costly entitlement program: the Social Security retirement program. But with a short session before the November 7 congressional election, the chances of action are slim.
The economy will likely be a theme during the election, in which Democrats are vying to retake control of the House of Representatives and Senate.
Democrats argue that mid-income Americans have suffered under Republican control of both the White House and Congress.
The president doesn't need to meet his economic advisors in order to learn one simple truth, Senate Democratic leader Harry Reid said. For millions of hard working middle-class families, life under Republican rule has grown less affordable and less secure.
Several indicators have shown a mixed economic picture, including the gross domestic product expanding at an annual clip of 2.5 percent in the second quarter, much slower than the brisk 5.6 percent pace in the first three months of 2006.
The unemployment rate also rose unexpectedly in July to 4.8 percent and the hot housing market has cooled, but wages and prices have continued to rise.
As a result, the Federal Reserve last week left benchmark interest rates unchanged at 5.25 percent after two years of increases aimed at keeping inflation in check.
This week, July's core producer and consumer price data came in below Wall Street expectations, an indication the Fed's forecasts for inflation to moderate may be coming to fruition.
However, Dallas Federal Reserve Bank President Richard Fisher said on Thursday that inflation was the greatest risk to the economy and the Fed would not hesitate to begin boosting rates again if data shows it is necessary.