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US Economy 'Getting Stronger,' says Bush - 2004-01-10

President Bush says the U.S. economy is getting stronger. Mr. Bush wants to make his tax cuts permanent at a time when some of his Democratic rivals say those cuts must be scaled back to slow huge federal deficits.

President Bush says the start of the new year finds more businesses investing and more than a quarter million Americans in new jobs. The unemployment rate is now below six percent, and stock market wealth has increased more than $3 trillion over the past year.

The previously struggling U.S. economy was a potential political liability for the president in this election year, as many of his Democratic rivals focused on the loss of more than three million jobs since Mr. Bush took office.

But with the economy now showing signs of recovery, the president is on the offensive, using his weekly radio address to lay out the differences between his tax cuts and some Democrats who say the cuts are driving up the deficit and should be rolled-back.

"We can continue on the path to prosperity and new jobs, a path marked by a pro-growth agenda that has cut taxes on paychecks for 109 million American taxpayers, or we can reverse the course by raising taxes on hardworking Americans," he said. "The choice is clear. Tax relief has got this economy going again, and tax relief will keep it moving forward."

President Bush again called on Congress to make his tax cuts permanent, promote free and fair trade, and enact judicial reforms to eliminate frivolous lawsuits.

The strength of the economy, education, and reforms to health care for older Americans are likely to be the dominant domestic issues in this year's presidential campaign.

Despite the president's upbeat take on the economy, December's unemployment report was weaker than his administration expected. Economists say the jobless rate declined slightly only because many people stopped looking for work.