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Bush Credits Tax Cuts for Economy Boost - 2003-11-08

U.S. President George Bush says his record tax cuts are helping stimulate the U.S. economy with rising output and lower unemployment. Democrats say the tax cuts are creating huge federal deficits.

President Bush is celebrating better than expected economic news with more than 120,000 new jobs last month and a rise in third quarter output of more than seven percent.

That is the fastest growth in nearly 20 years and has gone some way to soothing Republican concerns that a weak economy could be a political liability for the president in next year's re-election campaign.

With voters increasingly anxious about U.S. soldiers under attack in Iraq, the president's fundraising speeches are focusing less on the challenges there and more on the early signs of an economic recovery at home.

In his weekly radio address, Mr. Bush said America's economy is getting stronger every day.

"American companies are investing," he said. "Americans are buying homes at a record pace, and homeownership is near record levels. Stock market values have risen, adding about $2 trillion in wealth for investors since the beginning of the year."

The president said all Americans can be encouraged but should not be satisfied by early signs of progress because the improving economy is also a changing economy that has left some workers behind.

The president said he is spending more than $15 billion a year on job training and employment services with nearly 2,000 career centers where unemployed workers can check job listings, get help with a job application, and sign up for training.

As part of his broader economic approach, the president is asking Congress to help control health care costs, end frivolous lawsuits, and cut needless regulations so, Mr. Bush says, small business owners can focus on pleasing their customers, instead of pleasing bureaucrats.

He wants lawmakers to pass his national energy plan, promote more free trade agreements, and make his tax cuts permanent, so the gains he says the economy has made do not disappear when those cuts expire.

"The tax relief of the past two years was based on a principle that when Americans keep more of their own earnings, they spend more and invest more and move the economy forward," he said. "We're now seeing that happen."

Democrats say the president's tax cuts unfairly favor wealthier Americans and have forced state and local governments to cut social services.

In the Democratic response to the president's radio address, Texas Congressman Chet Edwards said those cuts are undermining government support for military families and veterans.

"What message does it send to our veterans when the administration says American taxpayers can afford to build new hospitals in Iraq, but we cannot afford to keep open veterans hospitals here at home?" asked congressman Edwards.

Congressman Edwards criticized a vote by House Republicans to cut veteran's health care services by $28 billion over 10 years.

"Our veterans have kept their promise to us, the promise to defend our families and freedom at all costs. Now, it is up to us to keep our promises to them," he said.

The Bush Administration says it wants to cut costs at underused veterans' medical centers and improve care in areas of the country where growing numbers of the nation's nearly seven million veterans live.

Both political parties recognize the strength of appealing to patriotism in supporting the country's fighting men and women ahead of Tuesday's U.S. Veteran's Day when President Bush will sign a law increasing death benefits for those killed in Iraq.