President Bush says his record tax cuts are helping American small businesses stimulate the economy. The president used his weekly radio address to call on Congress to ease regulations that he says are hurting profits.
Mr. Bush says he has an aggressive, pro-growth plan to help small businesses create more jobs by reducing what he says are unnecessary regulations. The president says his tax cuts will save 25 million small business owners an average of nearly $3,000 this year.
Along with the war in Iraq, the state of the U.S. economy is central to the president's bid for re-election, as more than three million Americans have lost their jobs since he came to office.
"Over the past two years, Americans have been tested at home and abroad, but our confidence and optimism have never wavered," he said. "We are defending the peace of the world. We are building the prosperity of our country. And we are turning loose the great energy and enterprise of one of the nation's great strengths, the drive and determination of our entrepreneurs."
Mr. Bush called on Congress to ease business regulations and limit lawsuits to build employer confidence and help create more jobs. He wants permanent tax cuts, lower health care costs, and more free trade agreements to sell more U.S. goods overseas.
"When the rules are fair and enforced, and the playing field is level, our workers, farmers, ranchers and small business owners can compete with anybody in the world," said president Bush.
The president's Democratic challengers are campaigning against his tax cuts, with some saying they should be repealed entirely to help offset a rising federal deficit caused by a weak economy and the costs of war.
Democrats are also critical of a redistricting plan by Republicans in Texas that would likely increase the number of Congressional seats for the president's party.
In the Democratic response to the president's radio address, Texas State Senator Leticia Van de Putte says Republican attempts to change voting districts would deny voting rights to more than one million minority voters.
"Republican leaders treat government as another arm of the Republican Party, and that, my friends, is a dangerous violation of public trust," she said. "Speaking on behalf of the millions of rural Hispanic and African-American Texans that we represent, we have urged President Bush to stop this attack on minority and independent voters. The president cannot claim he wants to win our hearts, while the White House signals it is OK to steal our votes."
Senator Van de Putte says the president's senior political advisor is helping Texas Republicans. Mr. Bush has not publicly intervened in the dispute, saying it is an issue for Texans to resolve themselves.
Democratic lawmakers have twice left the state to block votes on the plan, but their boycott collapsed earlier this month, when one senator broke ranks and returned.
Republicans control both houses of the Texas legislature. Senators are expected to approve their redistricting map in the coming week. They will then negotiate with House leaders over the differences in their plans, both of which are designed to end the Democrats' 17-15 majority in the U.S. Congressional delegation.