President George Bush has delivered an upbeat assessment of the U.S. economy. VOA White House Correspondent Scott Stearns reports, the president went to New York's financial district Wednesday in an effort to focus attention on domestic issues as the war in Iraq drags down his public approval ratings.

President Bush says the state of America's economy is strong.

"As we begin this new year, America's businesses and entrepreneurs are creating new jobs every day," he said. " Workers are making more money. Their paychecks are going further. Consumers are confident. Investors are optimistic."

In a speech to political and corporate leaders in New York's Wall Street financial district, President Bush outlined his plans for the U.S. economy.

He wants Congress to extent his authority to negotiate trade deals with other nations. Mr. Bush says the best way to improve U.S. exports and help people in other countries is to complete the Doha round of world trade talks.

"The Doha round is a chance to level the playing field for our goods and services, in other words so we can be treated fairly in foreign markets, but it also has a great opportunity to lift millions of people out of poverty around the world," he said.

The global trade talks opened in Doha six years ago, but have stalled over a dispute between the United States and the European Union on farm subsidies.

President Bush wants Congress to make permanent his record tax cuts and balance the budget, which he says he can do by restraining spending, changing legislative appropriations, and reforming federal retirement and health care entitlements.

The president says he will send Congress a budget next week that will reduce the deficit over the next five years and produce a balanced budget by 2012 while continuing what he says are pro-growth economic policies.

"Productivity is strong, and that is translating into higher wages," said President Bush. "When people across the world look at America's economy, what they see is low inflation, low unemployment, and the fastest growth of any major industrialized nation. The entrepreneurial spirit is alive and well in the United States. There is one undisputed leader in the world in terms of economy and that is the United States of America."

Unemployment is now below five percent with more than seven million new jobs since August of 2003. But the economy has also lost more than three million manufacturing jobs during the Bush Administration.

A public opinion poll by Newsweek magazine says two-thirds of Americans disapprove of the way the president is doing his job. Much of that displeasure comes from opposition to the war in Iraq.

That conflict remains at the forefront of American politics as Mr. Bush seeks to focus more on domestic issues with speeches in the last week on energy in Delaware, health care in Missouri and trade in Illinois.

A CNN poll says 38 percent of Americans believe it is extremely important for the president to deal with the economy. Nearly 60 percent believe it is extremely important for him to deal with Iraq.