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Bush Acknowledges Economic Woes, Expresses Optimism


President Bush says he is confident that a series of tax rebates and business incentives will help ease the pain of a slowing U.S. economy. VOA White House Correspondent Scott Stearns has the story.

With the dollar at an all-time low against the Euro and higher prices for food and gasoline depressing retail sales, President Bush says there is no doubt the U.S. economy is going through tough times.

"The economy shed more than 80,000 jobs in two months," he said. "Prices are up at the gas pump and in the supermarket. Housing values are down. Hard-working Americans are concerned. They are concerned about their families, and they are concerned about making their bills."

But Mr. Bush told the Economic Club of New York that he is optimistic because economic fundamentals remain strong and the federal government is acting to ensure that the economy is flexible enough to adjust to adversity and strong enough to attract capital.

"I believe that we are a resilient economy, and I believe that the ingenuity and resolve of the American people is what helps us deal with these issues," he said. "And it is going to happen again."

The president says his administration recognized the economic slowdown early and took action with Congress to ease its impact.

Mr. Bush last month signed a temporary stimulus package that gives tax incentives to businesses to make new investments in equipment this year. It also provides tax rebates to more than 130 million households.

"The purpose is to boost consumer spending," he said. "The purpose is to try to offset the loss of wealth if the value of your home has gone down. The purpose is to buoy the consumer."

The Treasury Department says those checks should be mailed by the second week of May, so White House officials expect consumer spending to rise in the second and third quarters.

President Bush again called on Congress to make his record tax cuts permanent and urged lawmakers to pass a free trade agreement with Colombia before the end of the year.

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