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Bush, Kerry Square Off On Economy - 2004-07-03


President Bush and Democratic challenger Senator John Kerry squared off over the economy in their radio addresses Saturday.

President Bush cited the past week's employment figures as a sign of steady economic growth, with more than 100,000 new jobs for June.

"With more jobs, and lower unemployment, we are seeing rising consumer confidence, higher incomes, continued gains in the rate of home ownership, and a restored sense of opportunity," said President Bush.

While June was the 10th consecutive month of growing employment, the number of new jobs was less than half the monthly average so far this year, with unemployment remaining essentially unchanged at more than five percent.

Democrats say the slow recovery is partly because the president's record tax cuts unfairly favor wealthier Americans and are driving up federal deficits.

President Bush says Democrats are engaged in what he calls a kind of class warfare that fails to see the fundamental fairness of tax cuts for all Americans. In his weekly radio address, Mr. Bush said lower taxes are strengthening the spirit of American enterprise.

"When people are allowed to keep more of what they earn, that is good for families trying to make ends meet, good for businesses looking for new customers and good for those looking for jobs in our expanding economy," he said.

Senator Kerry says the president's economic policies are driving many of those who are looking for work into lower paying jobs, without benefits.

In the Democratic radio address, the party's presumptive presidential candidate said his economic plan boosts funding for education and health care to improve conditions for American workers.

"It is a plan that puts and keeps good paying jobs at the heart of our economy," retorted Senator Kerry. "It closes loopholes that pay companies to move our jobs overseas."

Senator Kerry used his radio address to mark the 40th anniversary of the U.S. Civil Rights Act, which outlawed most racial discrimination. He has been criticized in the past week for not paying enough attention to African-American voters, who traditionally support Democratic candidates.

The Massachusetts Senator said those who struggled for civil rights must not slumber under what he called the false assumption that the work is done.

"We've removed the barriers of hate that kept us from drinking at the same water fountain or attending the same school," he said. "The next step in our journey must be to remove the barriers that keep us from drinking at the same fountain of opportunity."

Mr. Bush and Mr. Kerry spoke ahead of U.S. Independence Day, the Fourth of July. As Americans celebrates their freedom, President Bush said, they honor the sacrifice of the men and women defending that freedom in the U.S. military.

"In Afghanistan, Iraq, and elsewhere, they are fighting terrorists that threaten America, and helping to build hopeful, democratic societies where the ideology of terrorism has no place," said President Bush.

Senator Kerry is on a campaign bus tour through the Midwest, and will watch Fourth of July fireworks along the Mississippi River. President Bush attends a rally in the important electoral swing state of West Virginia, before returning to Washington for fireworks Sunday evening.

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