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US Economy Showing Signs of Recovery, says Bush - 2003-09-04

President Bush says the U.S. economy is showing signs of recovery as he prepares to ask Congress for billions of dollars more to pay for the U.S. occupation of Iraq.

President Bush says his series of record tax cuts are helping revive the U.S. economy because people are keeping more of their own money.

"That tax relief is taking pressure off of families and is adding momentum to economic growth. Tax relief came at the exact right time," the president said.

Mr. Bush says those tax cuts have softened the impact of the U.S. recession. Democratic opponents say it is driving up the federal deficit and reducing social services.

The size of federal borrowing is certain to come up in Congress as the president prepares to ask lawmakers for additional billions of dollars to fund U.S. troops in Iraq as well as the country's reconstruction.

Quoting Congressional sources, the Washington Post reports the White House request for Iraq could be as high as $70 billion, far more than legislators were preparing for. That would come on top of a $79 billion war budget signed by the president in April.

Speaking in the Midwest state of Missouri, Mr. Bush did not specifically mention Iraq or his pending request for more money. Instead, he spoke broadly of the fight against terrorism and its impact on the economy.

"We will protect this nation from further attack and therefore protecting our economy from major disruption," he said. "The safety of our people, the security of the American people is of paramount concern to me. With a broad coalition, we are taking and will continue to take action around the globe. We will remain on the offensive against terrorist killers, we will stay on the offensive, and this nation will prevail."

Monday's Labor Day holiday in the United States was the traditional start of the presidential campaign, and the health of the economy will be central to Mr. Bush's bid for re-election.

Democratic challengers believe the president is vulnerable on the economy as nearly three million jobs have been lost during his time in office. He inherited a federal budget in surplus that is now in deficit.

Mr. Bush says that is a result of the terrorist attacks of 2001, the ongoing recession, and the cost of war in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Missouri is considered a key swing state in next year's election and the president's visit was his second in the past 10 days. He used a speech to business leaders there to campaign for a jobs plan to build employer confidence in a series of steps, including reducing the cost of health care insurance by allowing smaller firms to pool their resources.

He also called for Congress to streamline business regulations, limit frivolous lawsuits, and upgrade the nation's electrical power grid. Mr. Bush wants Congress to make his tax cuts permanent and engage in more free trade agreements with other nations to increase U.S. exports.