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President Bush's Radio Weekly Address Focusses on Domestic Policy - 2002-01-12

President Bush wants Senate Democrats to vote for an economic stimulus package that Democrats say unfairly favors big business. The president's weekly radio address focused on domestic policy as he prepares to enter budget negotiations with Congress.

Preparing for his State of the Union address later this month, President Bush discussed priorities for his second year in office.

"We must give our military every tool and weapon it needs to prevail in the war against terror. We must strengthen our country's defenses against further attack, with a comprehensive program of homeland security. And we must get our country's economy growing and creating jobs once again," Mr. Bush said.

Mr. Bush called on Senate Democrats to approve his economic stimulus plan. That package passed the Republican-controlled House last year but was held-up in the Democratic-controlled Senate. Democrats said the plan's tax cuts unfairly favor big business over unemployed workers.

Democratic Congressman Mike Ross from Arkansas said the Republican plan pays for corporate tax cuts by taking money from the Social Security retirement fund.

"As Democrats, we do not think the answer to improving our economy is to provide a welfare bill for big corporations and special interests as some Republicans in Washington are trying to pass in the name of economic stimulus. And we think it is wrong to raid Social Security and Medicare to pay for it," he said.

Mr. Bush said he is trying to help workers by helping business create more jobs. He is offering to extend unemployment benefits nationwide and give tax rebates to low income families.

The president said his budget for the next fiscal year boosts social spending including a more than $360 million increase in funding for programs for women and children's nutrition and health care. He says he will also ask Congress for $73 million to expand job training for low income youth.

"My budget focuses on the pressing needs of our country and on the basic needs of our citizens. I am committed to building a strong economy that spreads its benefits to everyone. This goal reaches beyond politics or party, and I'm confident that Congress will join me in the work ahead," he said.

There has been bipartisan support for the fight against terrorism. Congressman Ross says Democrats will continue to work with the president to protect the country from further attack.

"While we may have different ideas about how to strengthen our economy, we stand united as one Congress and as one America in our response to terrorism. As Democrats, we join Republicans in supporting President Bush in wagging our military campaign in Afghanistan," he said.

The non-partisan Congressional Budget Office said the federal government can return to a surplus in 2004 if Congress controls spending. Democrats blame the president's tax cut for spending a record budget surplus. Republicans blame the recession and spending on the war against terrorism.