CRAWFORD, TX (Talon News) — President George W. Bush met with his economic advisors at his ranch in Crawford, Texas on Wednesday. He expressed optimism that economic stimulus and job growth will begin as a result of his tax cuts that were passed into law earlier this year and in 2001.
“We believe strongly that the tax relief plan that was approved by Congress in ’01, and most recently in ’03, is going to have a very positive effect on economic growth and vitality,” Bush told a group of reporters after his meeting with advisors.
Bush says the $350 billion tax cuts this year, including corporate dividend tax cuts and business incentives, were directly responsible for the unexpectedly robust 2.4 percent growth in the second quarter.
The president met with Treasury Secretary John Snow, Commerce Secretary Don Evans, Labor Secretary Elaine Chao, budget director Joshua Bolten, top Bush economic advisor Stephen Friedman, White House Chief of Staff Andrew Card and others at his ranch in Crawford.
Bush said he would like to see Congress pass certain aspects of his tax cut bill later this year that were not included in the version of the plan that passed earlier this year. One of these provisions includes the $3,000 re-employment accounts which would provide financial assistance to those people looking for jobs. But the president stopped short of endorsing more tax cuts.
“As of this moment, we feel like the plans we have in place are robust enough to create jobs,” Bush said in response to a question about whether he would support more tax cuts this year.
Several other ideas were mentioned during the discussion regarding ways to help spur the economy to job growth. The president mentioned limiting civil suit damages, restraining federal spending, providing workable health care options for employers and pushing to make the current tax cuts permanent.
“There needs to be a strong message to Congress not to overspend, set priorities and hold the line on the priorities,” Bush said, promoting the idea of fiscal restraint for federal lawmakers.
Although the second quarter economic growth was good, economic analysts says it needs to continue on that pace to begin creating jobs. Gregory Mankiw, head of Bush’s Council of Economic Advisors, said that economic growth should be above 3.1 percent in order for unemployment to begin to fall. Mankiw predicts that the projected rate of economic growth by the end of the year will be close to 3.7 percent.
“I think you’ll see a lot of job growth in the next two years,” said Mankiw.
President Bush added that he believes “it is more likely in the upcoming year that people are going to be able to find a job” as a result of his policies.
When Bush was asked by a reporter to respond to Democrat charges regarding why so many jobs have been lost since he became president, the president spoke bluntly.
“Let me remind the listeners here about what our country has gone through,” the president began.
“There was a precipitous decline [in the stock market] in March of 2000. And that began to affect savings and money and attitude. And then the country went into a recession. The first three quarters of 2001 was a recession. And we dealt with that by passing tax relief, which made the recession one of the shallowest in history.”
Bush said he believes the economic devastation would have been much worse without the tax cuts that were passed in 2001.
“As the economy was beginning to recover, the enemy hit us on September the 11th, and that affected our economy in a big way,” Bush continued. “And then we had corporate scandals which we’ve dealt with.”
The tone of the president changed as he responded to the effect the media has had about a possible war with Iraq beginning as early as last summer.
“Some [television news outlets] would put on their TV screens that we were ‘marching to war,'” recalled Bush, noting that it began in mid-2002. “It’s hard to have an upbeat view of the world when you’re ‘marching to war.’ War is not exactly a positive thought, particularly when it comes to people willing to take risks, and consumer confidence.”
Bush concluded that despite all of these obstacles to a strong economy and job growth, the United States has survived remarkably well.
“Now the economy is — having overcome those obstacles, beginning to recover,” Bush concluded. “And, yes, I think people are going to go back to work. And I firmly believe that what we have done was the absolute right course of action in order to help people find a job.”
Bush also responded poignantly to questions about the Democrat charges of a growing deficit since he became president in 2000.
“The deficit was caused by a recession which we inherited and did something about,” the president said, reminding people that the economy began slowing before he was even elected president.
Bush also reiterated that the war on terrorism comes with a cost that is worth taking.
“The deficit was caused because we spent more money on fighting a war, and the American people expect a President to do what is necessary to win a war,” Bush said. “The American people know that I’m not afraid to lead and to make a tough decision. And I made … a series of tough decisions … to make America more secure … to make the world more peaceful and … making sure our economy grows.”