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Bush: US Economy Still Needs a Boost - 2001-10-26

President Bush wants Congress to pass a series of new economic measures to revive the nation's economy before legislators go into recess next month. The President says these measures are a crucial part of recovering from the September 11 terrorist attacks.

President Bush says the war on terrorism has two fronts: the bombing in Afghanistan against suspected terrorists and the war at home to recover from their violence. For Mr. Bush, part of that homefront campaign is restoring confidence in the U.S. economy.

"There is no question the terrorists want to cast a shadow of fear on the businesses of America," said Mr. Bush. "They understand how important our businesses are to our way of life. After all, the entrepreneurial spirit is strong in America. It's part of our culture. It's part of our hopeful society."

The president told a gathering of business leaders at the White House that his administration has already approved $40 billion in funding to help areas affected by last month's attacks. But Mr. Bush says more spending is not enough. He wants Congress to pass more tax relief.

"There's a lot of good ideas in Washington, and a lot of them cost a lot of money," Mr. Bush went on to say. "We must be careful to assess our needs and make sure we are cautious about how we spend taxpayers' money. We believe the best way to stimulate and restore confidence in the economy is not through additional spending but through tax relief."

Mr. Bush wants more tax cuts for consumers, rebates for low income families and changes in the tax law allowing businesses to deduct more of the costs of new equipment.

But he is also asking Congress to act on parts of his domestic agenda that have been on hold since the September 11 attack. He wants Trade Promotion Authority which would allow him to negotiate overseas business deals that would be brought to Congress for a simple "yes" or "no" vote. Mr. Bush says that authority would create more jobs at home and help spread Democracy abroad by increasing economic opportunity in other countries.

The president is also asking Congress to move forward on a controversial energy plan that would open up protected areas in Alaska to allow for more oil drilling. While energy prices are currently low, Mr. Bush stressed Americans should not be complacent at a time of war.

"We need to be more self reliant and self-sufficient," said Mr. Bush. "It is in our nation's national interest that we develop more energy supplies at home. It is in our national interest that we look at safe nuclear power. It is in our national interest that we conserve more. It is in our national interest that we modernize the energy infrastructure of America. It is in our national interest to get a bill to my desk, and I urge the Senate to do so."

The Senate is controlled by Democrats who have rallied behind the president so far in responding to terrorist attacks. They have approved additional spending and passed anti-terrorism legislation that the president signed into law Friday. It is unclear whether the bipartisanship of the last seven weeks will extend to legislation less directly linked to the threat of terrorism.