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Bush Expresses Confidence in America's Economic Future


President Bush says his stimulus plan of tax rebates and business incentives, passed by Congress last month, will help energize a slowing U.S. economy. VOA White House Correspondent Scott Stearns reports, opposition Democrats want more help for lower and middle class workers.

President Bush says he understands that American families are concerned about a slowing economy.

"In the long run, we can be confident that our economy will continue to grow, but in the short run, it is clear that growth has slowed," he said.

Higher gasoline and food prices are depressing retail sales, and the U.S. housing market has been in decline. The economy lost 80,000 jobs over the last two months. Some economists say the U.S. is already in a recession. But the Bush administration is not calling it that.

In his weekly radio address, President Bush says his administration recognized the slowdown early and worked with Congress on an economic stimulus package. The deal he signed last month includes tax incentives for businesses that invest in new equipment this year and tax rebates for more than 130 million families.

"My economic team, along with many outside experts, expects this stimulus package to have a positive effect on our economy in the second quarter," he added. "And they expect it to have even a stronger effect in the third quarter, when the full effects of the $152 billion in tax cuts are felt."

In the Democrats' radio address, North Dakota Senator Kent Conrad says a $3 trillion budget plan approved by the Senate Friday includes provisions proposed by the Democrats, but cut from the economic stimulus plan, including extended unemployment assistance, food stamps, and home heating assistance.

"With so many Americans hurting, we can not afford to take the president's wait-and-see approach any longer," he said. "It is time to act. The Democratic budget does just that."

President Bush wants Congress to make his record tax cuts permanent. The Senate plan continues some of those cuts for lower and middle class workers, but not for wealthier Americans.