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Bush Tries to Build Support for Economic Stimulus Plan - 2003-01-09

President Bush is defending his plan for more tax cuts against Democrat complaints that it unfairly favors the rich.

President Bush said Congressional Democrats are engaged in what he calls "the class war of politics" by criticizing his $670 billion economic stimulus plan as favoring wealthier Americans. "This is a fair plan. It is an important plan," said Mr. Bush, "and it is a plan that will help people find work because it will help keep this economy growing."

After launching his economic stimulus plan Tuesday in Chicago, Mr. Bush began a campaign to build support for it by meeting with workers at a flag factory in the state of Virginia.

Under the Bush plan, small businesses like the flag factory would be able to write off up to $75,000 worth of new equipment. Currently, those businesses are allowed to exempt just $25,000.

Mr. Bush said encouraging more business investment will create more jobs and help boost an economy still struggling with a drop in investor confidence, following a series of accounting scandals as well as the aftermath of a recession made worse by the 2001 terrorist attacks.

The president said Congress should act on his tax cuts quickly to help the economy recover. "They need to understand that we have got to be thinking long term for the United States of America, that the role of government is not to create wealth," he said, "but to create an environment in which a small business can grow to be a big business, in which people are comfortable about investing, in which people have the ultimate confidence in our system."

Democrats say the plan unfairly favors wealthier Americans by eliminating taxes on stock dividends. Opposition legislators have their own plan that eliminates those cuts.

President Bush is focusing more on the economy at a time when nearly two-thirds of Americans polled approve of the way he is doing his job overall, but less than half of those questioned approve of the way he is handling the economy.