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Bush Says Economy Strong


President Bush says the U.S. economy is strong entering 2006, despite slower-than-expected job growth.

President Bush says 2006 begins with more good news for the American economy, with an unemployment rate now below five percent.

Government figures show 108,000 new jobs in December, about half what economists expected, but the president says the overall economy has been growing by about four percent for nearly two years.

"Productivity is high, consumers are confident, and more Americans now own their homes than at any time in our Nation's history," said George W. Bush. "To keep our economy strong, and secure the American Dream for future generations, leaders in Washington must make sound decisions."

In his weekly radio address, President Bush said one of the most important decisions is making permanent his record tax cuts, which he says have helped create jobs and opportunity.

He says those cuts are threatened by opposition Democrats, who, he says, want to raise taxes by letting those cuts expire.

"Inaction by the Congress will mean a tax increase on the American people," he said. "When you hear people in Washington say we don't need to make the tax relief permanent, what they're really saying is they're going to raise your taxes. To keep our economy growing, we need to ensure that you keep more of what you earn, and Congress needs to make the tax cuts permanent."

Democrats say those tax cuts unfairly favor wealthier Americans, and do not do enough to help the Middle Class.

In the Democratic radio address, New York Congresswoman Louise Slaughter kept up her party's attack on Republican ethics, after a once-powerful Washington lobbyist pleaded guilty to fraud and tax evasion in a federal corruption investigation that could implicate a number of high-ranking Congressional leaders from both the Republican and Democratic parties.

Former lobbyist Jack Abramoff has agreed to cooperate with prosecutors. Democrats hope to use the case as part of a campaign to portray Republicans as corrupt ahead of legislative elections later this year.

Congresswoman Slaughter said America has been put up for sale to the highest bidder.

"Sadly, the legacy of Republican rule has been the fundamental degradation of our democratic institutions, and the abandonment of our core principles," said Louise Slaughter. "Since 1995, Republicans have turned our democratic governance into an engine of patronage, not one of responsible policy."

Politicians from both political parties have accepted campaign contributions from Mr. Abramoff and his clients. Many, including President Bush, have announced plans to donate all or part of that money to charity.

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