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Bush Confident in US Economy, Fight Against Terrorism - 2001-09-22


President Bush says the U.S. economy remains strong, despite a slowdown made worse by the terrorist attacks on the Pentagon in Washington and the World Trade Center in New York. Both Mr. Bush and the Democratic opposition are emphasizing their solidarity in the fight against terrorism.

In his weekly radio address, President Bush sought to bolster the U.S. public's confidence in the economy, which he said has suffered a shock. The stock market has finished its worst week since the Great Depression of the 1930s, and many workers have lost their jobs, especially in the airline and tourism industries.

But the president says the American economy is fundamentally strong, despite these challenges.

"The terrorists who attacked the United States on September 11 targeted our economy, as well as our people," the president said. "They brought down a symbol of American prosperity, but they could not touch its source."

President Bush told Americans they could look forward to an improved business climate in the years ahead, as the U.S. central bank keeps the nation's financial system strong, and energy prices remain steady.

He emphasized the new spirit of bipartisan economic cooperation in Congress as a result of the terrorist attacks.

"Members of Congress are working together, regardless of party, in the best American spirit, to get our economy moving again," Mr. Bush said. "The administration and Congressional leaders of both parties have agreed to deliver emergency aid to keep our airlines flying."

The leader of the opposition Democratic Party in the House of Representatives, Richard Gephardt, echoed Mr. Bush. In a radio address following the president's, he said Congress would work with the administration to do whatever is necessary to bring the country's enemies to justice as quickly as possible.

"There is no place for partisanship here," Mr. Gephardt said. " We are not Democrats first, or Republicans first. We are Americans first. And as Americans, we will work together to do what needs to be done."

In tough words, Mr. Gephardt said the terrorist attacks brought Americans together and steeled U.S. resolve. The House opposition leader vowed that the United States, with its allies, will respond, and will not falter or fail in its pursuit of terrorists.

"They don't know what we will do to defend freedom, and they don't know what they've started. But they are about to find out," he said.

The Democratic leader and the president spoke as U.S. warplanes and ships positioned themselves for the biggest U.S. military buildup in the Gulf and Indian Ocean since the 1991 war against Iraq. Mr. Bush discussed the U.S. response to the terrorist attacks with Russian President Vladimir Putin by telephone from the Camp David presidential retreat in Maryland, but officials released no details of the discussion. He also consulted his national security advisers via teleconference.