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Bush Presents Plan to Stimulate Sluggish US Economy - 2003-01-07

President Bush is pushing a plan he says will give the sluggish U.S. economy a big boost. His proposal relies almost entirely on tax cuts.

The president said the American economy has been challenged in recent years by lingering effects of a recession, corporate scandals, and the high cost of fighting terrorism.

"We cannot be satisfied until every part of our economy is healthy and vigorous," he said. "We will not rest until every business has a chance to grow and every person who wants to find work can find a job."

In a speech to business leaders in Chicago, Mr. Bush outlined his 10 year, $674 billion dollar economic stimulus proposal. He called it a bold plan to address an urgent need.

"It is an immediate boost to the economy," Mr. Bush said. "And these proposals will help stimulate investment and put more people back to work, which is what we want to have happen. They are essential for the long run as well to lay the groundwork for future growth and future prosperity."

The president said tax cuts are the key. He said Americans pay far too much to the government, and tax reductions scheduled for coming years should be implemented now.

"Americans today are paying about a third of their income in taxes. All of this puts pressure on the family budget and therefore clouds our economic future," the president added.

Mr. Bush called on Republicans and Democrats in congress to come together and pass his plan quickly. But even before he spoke, the battle lines were being drawn on Capitol Hill with Democratic lawmakers arguing that his plan is skewed to benefit the rich.

In his Chicago speech, the president rejected that accusation. He made specific mention of his plans to help the unemployed, and to eliminate taxes on stock dividends paid to investors.

"About half of all dividend income goes to America's seniors and they often rely on those checks for a steady source of income in their retirement," he explained. "It is fair to tax a company's profits. It is not to double tax by taxing the shareholder on the same profits."

The president's announcement came at a time when polls show more and more Americans are concerned about the economy. While almost two thirds of those polled said they think Mr. Bush is doing a good job overall, only about half said they approve of the way he is handling economic affairs.