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Bush Calls on Democrats to Approve Economic Stimulus Package - 2001-12-15

President Bush says hundreds-of-thousands of U.S. jobs could be lost, if Senate Democrats do not move forward on his economic stimulus package.

Democrats say they are still working with the president to help the country rebound from an economic recession made worse by terrorist attacks.

President Bush says time is running out for American workers, with as many as 300,000 jobs at stake, if Senate Democrats do not approve his economic stimulus package.

"On behalf of the American workers and our American economy, I call on the leadership of the Senate to bring this bipartisan economic recovery plan to a vote, to bring help to unemployed workers and a crucial boost to our economy," he said.

Mr. Bush is citing figures released by his Council of Economic Advisors Saturday that say failing to pass the economic stimulus package would result in a roughly 0.5 percent drop in economic growth, a drop the council says translates into 300,000 lost jobs.

President Bush this week moved to break the two-month deadlock by changing parts of his plan, in a deal with moderate Democrats and Republicans in the Senate. The changes extend unemployment benefits nationwide and provide more money to help unemployed workers keep their health insurance. The plan gives low-income families a $600 cash refund, and reduces taxes for middle-income families.

Mr. Bush says the bipartisan plan will create more new jobs by lowering taxes for 10 million small businesses and entrepreneurs.

"Democrats and Republicans set aside partisan politics to arrive at this agreement. They want to get something done for America's workers. We believe this agreement has enough votes to be approved by the United States Senate, and I'm ready to sign it into law. But first the Senate leader must schedule a vote," he said.

Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle says Democrats want more help for laid off workers who may have to use as much as half of their unemployment check to pay for health insurance.

"Parents who are out of work have a tough enough time. They shouldn't have to choose between paying the bills and protecting their families' health. We are proposing to help these families keep their health coverage until they find their next job," Mr. Daschle said.

Senator Daschle says Republicans want to give billions of dollars in new tax cuts to wealthy individuals and corporations in the hope that money will "trickle down" to working families.

Despite what he calls "such different approaches," Senator Daschle says he is confident Congress and the president can reach agreement before the end-of-year recess.