President Bush has signed legislation to help the U.S. economy recover from the terrorist attacks of September 11. The stimulus measures which are expected to pump more than $120 billion into the economy over the next three years.
The president's action extends unemployment benefits for another 13 weeks and gives businesses more tax breaks to encourage them to create more jobs. "This will allow those who lost their jobs in the recession or in the aftermath of the September 11 attacks more time to pay their bills and support their families while they look for work," Mr. Bush said.
In a radio address broadcast live from the Rose Garden, President Bush said there are encouraging signs that the economy is already beginning to recover from a recession made worse by the terrorist attacks. As he prepares to mark the six month anniversary of those attacks Monday, Mr. Bush said it has been a time of national sorrow for the victims and of national resolve to defeat terrorism.
"For the families of the victims, these have been six months of sorrow, and America will never forget their loss. In our war on terror, these have been six months of determined action. We have destroyed terrorist camps. We have disrupted terrorist finances. We have toppled a terrorist regime and brought thousands of terrorists to justice," Mr. Bush said.
The new economic stimulus measures establish what is called a "Liberty Zone" in New York City to give tax relief to businesses hurt by the attack on the World Trade Center.
"The City of New York suffered a great tragedy on September 11 and still faces major economic consequences. The bill I sign into law today provides over $5 billion in tax relief to aid in the recovery of lower Manhattan by helping businesses to get back on their feet so they can start hiring again. The people of New York have shown great courage and perseverance and America stands with them," Mr. Bush said.
With unemployment falling to 5.5 percent in February, the U.S. economy added more than 60,000 new jobs, leading many economists to declare the recession over. Mr. Bush says the stimulus plan will continue that momentum by creating more jobs in manufacturing and the high-tech sector through tax incentives which would spark investment in new equipment.
"We are seeing some encouraging signs in the economy, but we can't stand-by and simply hope for continued recovery. We must work for it. We must make sure that our recovery continues and gains momentum. We want a recovery that is broad enough and strong enough to provide jobs for all our citizens," Mr. Bush said.
The president thanked congressional leaders from both parties for working together to pass this economic stimulus plan. He was joined in the Rose Garden by Republican House Speaker Dennis Hastert and Democratic Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle.
Democrats originally opposed the president's plan because they said it favored big business over unemployed workers. This compromise legislation passed both Houses of Congress late last week. It is expected to pump more than $50 billion into the U.S. economy this year, and more than $70 billion over the next two years.