President Bush is calling on Congress to work with him to capitalize on recent economic gains. He says opening new markets to U.S. goods and services and reducing Americans' dependence on foreign energy sources are two keys to the country's long-term economic growth. Meanwhile, the opposition Democrats are accusing the President and the Republican-controlled Congress of playing partisan politics instead of resolving the problems facing everyday citizens.
President Bush says the U.S. economy is growing at a steady 3.6 percent and more Americans are working than at any time in U.S. history. But Congress must act now, he says, to ensure that economic growth continues into the future.
"The American economy is the envy of the world," he said. "For the sake of our nation's hardworking families, we must work together to achieve long-term economic security, so that we can continue to spread prosperity and hope throughout America and the world."
In his weekly radio address, Mr. Bush says one way to sustain economic growth is for the United States to expand trade opportunities. Enacting the Central American Free Trade Agreement is just one way for the United States to open up new markets for its goods and services.
"The Central America Free Trade Agreement would help us achieve these goals," he said. "This agreement would help the new democracies in our hemisphere deliver better jobs and higher labor standards to their workers, and it would create a more level playing field for American goods and services. Congress needs to pass this important legislation."
Earlier this week the five Central American presidents of the CAFTA nations were in Washington to urge U.S. lawmakers to approve the agreement, which would cut tariffs and lower trade barriers. Although CAFTA has the president's support and is backed by legislators from both parties, it is expected to face a tough fight on Capitol Hill.
As the president praised free trade and urged Congress to pass CAFTA, word came late Friday that his Administration was reimposing quotas on some Chinese-made textiles, saying the action was needed to save thousands of U.S. jobs.
Chinese textiles have flooded into the United States since January following the elimination of a 30-year-old system of global quotas that limited how much China and other countries could ship to the United States and other industrialized countries. The Chinese government said the decision to impose the new quotas goes against the spirit of free trade and the basic principles of the World Trade Organization, of which both countries are members.
The textile fight is the latest in a series of commercial spats that have pitted the United States against China, the world's most populous country with the fastest growing economy. China's economic boom has driven up the price of oil, which some economists blame for limiting U.S. economic growth.
Meanwhile, New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson, who delivered the Democrat's weekly radio address, says the President and the Republican-controlled Congress have been too busy with politics to address rising fuel prices and other issues affecting the average American.
"One third of the year passed by while we watched the Republican leadership politicizing our justice system, while we witnessed scandal and extremism take over the people's house and while we saw the Republican party continuously put partisanship first and everything else second," he said. "Since that time, while nothing was being done in Washington, you started paying a lot more at the gas pump."
President Bush used his weekly radio address to urge Congress to get an energy bill to his desk by August. Mr. Bush says the comprehensive national energy strategy would reduce U.S. dependence on foreign oil. The energy legislation has been stalled in Congress since early in President Bush's first term.