President Bush says he is confident tax incentives and tax rebates will make the U.S. economy "stronger than ever before."  VOA White House Correspondent Scott Stearns reports, the president and Congress agreed on a temporary stimulus plan last month after rising energy prices and falling property values slowed economic growth.

President Bush says the government has taken decisive action to ease the pains of a slowing economy by agreeing to tax incentives for businesses and tax rebates for more than 130 million households.

"I fully recognize that people are concerned about our economy, but they must understand that this package has yet to fully kick in yet," he said.  "We have taken action, but it is going to take awhile for the economy to feel the effects of this good law that I have signed."

Mr. Bush spoke to reporters at a printing plant in the state of Virginia.  The visit was meant to highlight tax incentives for businesses to invest in new equipment this year.

"Small business owners are dreamers and doers," he added.  "And we want to watch them and help them expand, because as they expand, more and more people find work.  We are in a rough patch right now in our economy, but I am confident that in the long term we will come out stronger than ever before."

Two government reports show further evidence of a slowing economy.  The Commerce Department said sales of newly built homes last month fell to the lowest level in 13 years.  The median price of homes sold was down nearly three percent from a year earlier.

The number of unsold homes on the market held steady from January, creating the biggest inventory of residential property in more than 26 years.  That is partly the result of banks trying to resell homes they have foreclosed on because owners could not make higher payments on adjustable-rate mortgages.

A separate government report showed a second straight month of declining U.S. manufacturing activity as orders for items intended to last more than three years dropped 1.7 percent.  Demand for manufacturing equipment fell more than 13 percent, the largest drop on record.

Consumer confidence is also down.  A regular survey of 5,000 American households found consumer confidence in the economy at a five-year low.  Expectations for future business conditions, jobs and income are at a 35-year low.

A public-opinion poll this month by NBC News and the Wall Street Journal found that two-thirds of Americans disapprove of the president's handling of the economy.  The economy has now replaced the war in Iraq as the number-one issue for voters before the November presidential election.