President Urges Calm Amid More Bad Economic News

Washington - The numbers that tell us how healthy our economy is were all over the place Tuesday.

Retail sales inched up, but not enough to spark growth, inflation is rising, and oil prices were down...all leading to uncertainty on wall street.

Politicians are considering everything from housing help to another stimulus check.

The problem is that not everyone agrees on what the problem is.

"It's about jobs and people not having them," said House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

Democrats say Americans need money from another stimulus check, but with banks like California's Indymac failing and more at risk, are deposits safe?

"My concern is less on the solvency of these institutions, and more on their ability to extend credit to keep the economy growing," said Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke in testimony before Congress on Tuesday.

President Bush says the economy is growing.

"It's not the growth we'd like; we'd like stronger growth. And there are some things we can do," he told reporters.

Those are things like making sure housing giants Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae don't fail.

Together, they hold or back almost half the nation's mortgages.

Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson wants to restore confidence by getting the approval extend credit and invest in Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae if they need it.

"If you have a squirt gun in your pocket, you may have to take it out. If you have a bazooka, people know you've got it and you may not have to take it out," Paulson said.

Some lawmakers aren't keen on writing him a blank check, or giving the Federal Reserve more oversight.

"Giving the Fed more power is like giving a neighborhood kid who broke a window playing baseball in the street a bigger bat," said Kentucky Senator Jim Bunning.

The Federal Reserve insists that when housing improves, so will the broader economy, and predicts new home construction will pick up by year's end.

Still, home prices could continue to fall into next year because there are so many unsold homes on the market.