President Bush says he remains optimistic about the U.S. economy, despite new figures that show economic growth slowed in the second quarter of the year. The topic dominated a meeting Wednesday between the president and his cabinet.
In comments to reporters as the cabinet meeting came to an end, Mr. Bush tried to put the latest Commerce Department figures in the best possible light. The president said the economy is continuing to grow, though at a sluggish pace.
"This is a positive trend," he said. "We're headed in the right direction. But the growth isn't strong enough, as far as I am concerned."
The Commerce Department said Wednesday the gross domestic product, a measure of all goods and services produced in the United States, was up by 1.1 percent in the April through June quarter. That is far lower than the 2.2 percent growth rate predicted by private economists.
White House spokesman Ari Fleischer said during the cabinet meeting there was wide agreement that the elements exist for more robust growth. He said the fundamentals of the economy are sound despite the lower than expected growth figures, and recent fluctuations in the stock market.
The market's wild ride in recent weeks has been blamed on a lack of investor confidence following a series of corporate scandals.
On Tuesday, Mr. Bush signed legislation designed to crack down on corporate fraud and restore faith in the business sector. As the cabinet meeting came to an end, the president called on Congress to take quick action on other measures that he believes could help the economy. Among them is the administration's request for enhanced trade negotiating authority which awaits final action in the Senate.