Good morning. This week, the official announcement came that our economy has been in recession since March. And unfortunately, to a lot of Americans, that news comes as no surprise. Many have lost jobs or seen their hours cut. Many have seen friends or family laid off.
The long economic expansion that started 10 years ago, in 1991, began to slow last year. Many economists warned me when I took office that a recession was beginning, so we took quick action. We passed the biggest tax cut in a generation, and we imposed some much needed discipline on Federal spending. And by the end of the summer, we could see signs that the economy was responding.
But the terrorist attacks of September the 11th hit our economy hard. They hurt our airlines and hotels and restaurants and undermined consumer and business confidence. Now we need to act boldly to protect America's economic security. There are two immediate priorities for America's recovery: We must bring quick help to those who need it most, and we must restore our economy's growth.
It's the holiday season. It's a time to reach out to Americans who are hurting, to help them put food on the table, and to keep a roof over their heads. I've offered a plan to provide immediate assistance to those who have lost their jobs in the wake of the terrorist attack. My plan extends unemployment compensation by 13 weeks in the States hardest hit by terrorism. My plan helps States offer Medicaid to uninsured workers in need and their families. And my plan offers emergency grants to States to help displaced workers get job training and find new work and continue their health insurance—practical help in a difficult time.
And I'm working with congressional leaders on more ideas to help Americans who have lost their jobs. In the long run, the right answer to unemployment is to create more jobs. I have proposed a package of job creating measures. I've asked Congress for tax relief for low- and moderate-income people to put more money into the hands of consumers and to put people to work making things that consumers want. I have proposed we lower taxes on employers who buy new equipment to expand their business and hire more people.
We should reform our tax laws so that employers don't pay more taxes as their profits shrink. And I propose we speed up the income tax cuts Congress passed in the spring so that people can keep more of their own money to spend or pay their debts.
I asked for this job creation package on October the 5th. The House of Representatives responded swiftly. Yet I'm still waiting for a bill to sign, and more importantly, so are more than 415,000 Americans who have lost their jobs since then.
You know, after September the 11th my administration and the Congress made a conscious decision to show the terrorists we could work together. We had an obligation to show that democracy works. We've done that. And now we need to do it again by helping dislocated workers and spurring economic growth.
Thank you for listening.