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Bush Touts New Budget; Democrats Criticize Tax Cuts - 2004-02-07

President Bush says his election-year budget includes more money to help Americans find jobs. Democrats say the president's tax cuts are hurting America's cities.

President Bush says the U.S. economy is growing stronger, with unemployment last month falling to 5.6 percent and manufacturers reporting new orders. With low inflation and the home-ownership rate at an all-time high, Mr. Bush says, his tax cuts are working.

"All of these are signs that our economic recovery is becoming a lasting expansion," said President Bush. "Yet, many of the new jobs being created require workers to learn new skills, and we can make sure that more Americans are prepared for these new opportunities."

His budget includes a so-called "Jobs for the 21st Century" plan to help high school students who are falling behind in reading and math, and to expand advanced placement programs in low-income school districts.

In his weekly radio address, Mr. Bush also asked Congress to approve $250 million for community colleges to help mid-life workers train for new careers.

Democrats hope to use the economy to help defeat Mr. Bush in this year's election. Nearly three million people have lost their jobs since the president took office.

The White House is responding with a six-point economic plan that Mr. Bush says will help solidify recent gains.

"We'll help create more jobs in America by making tax relief permanent; by enforcing spending discipline and reducing the deficit; by enacting common sense reforms to our regulatory and legal systems; by taking steps to make health care more affordable and accessible; by passing a national energy policy; and by opening up more foreign markets for trade," he said. "Taking these steps will add momentum to our nation's economic expansion and extend jobs and prosperity to more Americans."

In the Democratic radio address, Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick says the president's record tax cuts unfairly favor wealthier Americans, and have reduced federal assistance for cities and states.

"I look out on a city that - like most urban centers in the country - has been woefully neglected by the federal government," said Kwame Kilpatrick. "Funding cuts have hobbled our schools, eaten away at our infrastructure, and dismantled programs to help the poor and those who need help to rise up in the work force."

Mayor Kilpatrick says the president's budget deficits burden future generations of taxpayers. He says President Bush should commit to helping American cities as he has committed to helping Iraq.

"The president has stood up and shown his commitment to rebuild Iraq by asking for another $20 billion for the country's reconstruction," he said. "Now, he must make the same commitment to our nation's cities, a commitment to build America."

Mayor Kilpatrick says new federal spending on roads and bridges and ports would create new jobs. He also called for greater government support for public transportation systems, including high-speed rail.