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    Bush: US Economy Being Helped by Falling Energy Prices

    U.S. President George Bush says falling energy prices are helping America's economy. VOA White House Correspondent Scott Stearns reports, while the stock market is reaching record highs, new economic figures show a slowdown in U.S. job growth.

    President Bush says he is pleased with America's economic progress and will continue to work to create a positive environment for entrepreneurs.

    "Government will help you as opposed to impede your ability to expand your company. And the entrepreneurial spirit is strong in America. Our economy is strong," he said.

    Mr. Bush told workers at a package delivery company in the nation's capital that his administration has helped the economy by lowering regulation, opening overseas markets, protecting intellectual property rights and cutting taxes.

    Lower energy costs are helping small business owners, and the president says there was more good news in new economic figures showing nationwide unemployment falling to 4.6 percent.

    But those figures also show only 51,000 new jobs in September. That was below Wall Street estimates and is the smallest growth in a year. Most analysts say the U.S. economy needs to add at least 100,000 jobs each month just to absorb new workers entering the labor market.

    Leaders of the president's Republican Party hope that falling gasoline prices and a record-breaking rally in America's key average of industrial stocks will translate into voter support for Republican candidates in congressional and gubernatorial elections less than five weeks away.

    But public opinion polls show much of the good economic news is being overshadowed by concerns about the war in Iraq and scandals involving Republican members of Congress, the most recent being allegations that Republican leaders ignored information that a Republican congressman sent sexually explicit messages to a teenage boy, who had served as a congressional page.

    When asked who voters thought would do a better job handling the economy, an NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll says 35 percent of Americans chose opposition Democrats. Twenty-nine percent chose Republicans.

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