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Bush Optimistic About US Economic Recovery - 2003-09-05

President Bush says the U.S. economy is beginning to recover from recession despite the loss of more than 93,000 jobs last month.

President Bush says his series of tax cuts came at just the right time as they are helping revive the U.S. economy because more people are taking home more of their paychecks.

"It matters when people take that money, for example, and go buy school supplies," he said. "Somebody has got to produce the school supplies. Somebody has got to sell the school supplies. It affects economic vitality and growth when people are spending money. The more money people have in their pockets when times are slow, the more likely it is our economy is going to recover."

Some U.S. economists say the stimulative effect of those tax cuts has already been absorbed in the U.S. economy and they are more concerned about continuing job losses, which continued for a seventh consecutive month in August.

White House officials maintain job growth is always one of the last things to happen in an economy coming out of recession, and they believe the president's plan will help reverse the more than three million jobs that have been lost during the Bush administration.

Monday's Labor Day holiday in the United States was the traditional start of the presidential campaign, and the health of the economy will be central to Mr. Bush's bid for re-election.

Democratic challengers believe the president is vulnerable on the economy as more than 400,000 jobs have been lost this year, with unemployment now at more than six percent.

President Bush came to office with a federal budget in surplus that will likely be nearly $500 billion in deficit by next year. Mr. Bush says that is not his fault. Instead, it is a result of the terrorist attacks of 2001, the recession, and the cost of war in Afghanistan and Iraq.

"There's still people looking for work, and we've got to do something about that. I said I was optimistic about our economy. And I am for good reason," he said. "We have been through a lot, and yet we are still strong. Let me remind you of what we have been through. The attacks on America cost us about $80 billion. That's a lot of money."

The president spoke to small business owners in the Midwest state of Indiana Friday before a fundraiser where he is expected to raise about $1 million for his re-election campaign.

He called on Congress to help create more jobs by making his tax cuts permanent and enacting a series of steps to build employer confidence including reducing health care costs by allowing smaller firms to pool their resources for lower insurance rates.

He also called on Congress to streamline business regulations, limit frivolous lawsuits, upgrade the nation's electrical power grid, and engage in more free trade agreements to boost U.S. exports.