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Fact Sheet: President Bush's Agenda for Economic Growth

December 05, 2005

Today's Presidential Action:

Today, President Bush Visited The John Deere-Hitachi Plant In Kernersville, North Carolina, And Discussed His Agenda For A Strong And Vibrant Economy. The President outlined his pro-growth agenda to build an economy that encourages entrepreneurship and rewards workers' efforts, giving them control over key decisions and helping deliver prosperity to every corner of the Nation.

In Difficult Times, The President Acted To Maintain Economic Growth. In the past five years, the economy has endured a stock market decline, recession, terrorist attacks, corporate scandals, high energy costs, and devastating natural disasters. These shocks required decisive action. The President believes the economy grows when people are allowed to keep more of their own money. So, he called on Congress to cut taxes, and Congress responded. We cut taxes for families, investors, and small businesses. The death tax has been put on the road to extinction, helping farmers and entrepreneurs pass on the results of a lifetime's hard work.

  • These Pro-Growth Policies Have Helped Strengthen The Economy. Since May 2003, the economy has added nearly 4.5 million new jobs. The unemployment rate is down to 5 percent – lower than the average for the 1970s, 1980s, and 1990s. Last quarter, the economy grew at 4.3 percent and has been growing near that average for more than two years. Sales of new homes reached an all-time high in October, more Americans now own their homes, and minority ownership is at an all-time high. Real disposable income is up, consumers are confident, and the holiday shopping season is off to a strong start. New orders for durable goods have risen sharply, and shipments of manufactured goods are up. Business activity in the manufacturing sector reported its 30th straight month of growth. In the past five years, productivity has grown at some of its fastest rates since the 1960s, and small businesses are thriving. Each year the President has been in office, the rate of growth of non-security discretionary spending has been cut, and the government is on track to reach the goal of cutting the budget deficit in half by 2009.
  • The Economy Is Growing, But There Is More Work To Be Done. America's economic growth cannot be taken for granted. The President is moving forward with a comprehensive agenda to keep the economy growing, generate more jobs, and lead to higher wages for America's workers.

The Economy Is Vibrant And Strong, And America's Best Days Are Still Ahead. Throughout the last century, there have often been pessimists saying America's best days are behind it, and the future belongs to others. Yet throughout history, the American people have always proved the pessimists wrong. Some even say we should repeal the tax relief sooner. The Administration will continue to promote the pro-growth policies that give people the freedom to pursue their dreams and build a better tomorrow for future generations.

The President's Agenda For A Strong And Vibrant Economy

To Maintain Economic Growth, The President Is Committed To Keeping Taxes Low And Restraining Spending. The President's tax relief, which is helping to grow the economy, will expire in a few years unless Congress acts. If tax relief is allowed to expire, a family of four making $60,000 today will see its Federal income taxes eventually go up by more than 50 percent. To maintain growth, there has to be certainty in the tax code, workers need to keep more of their paycheck, and Congress needs to make the tax cuts permanent. The President is also working to restrain government spending. The President has set a goal of cutting the deficit in half by 2009 and has submitted the most disciplined budget proposal since Ronald Reagan was in the White House. The President's plan would also terminate or reduce more than 150 government programs, and Congress is poised to deliver savings on more than 90 of these cuts. For the first time since 1997, Congress is poised to deliver more than $35 billion in savings in entitlement programs. The President's approach is clear: working families should set priorities for their spending – and so must the Federal government.

  • The President Will Continue To Lead Efforts To Reform Entitlement Programs. In the long term, the most significant deficits will occur as baby boomers retire and more people receive Social Security and Medicare benefits. These unfunded liabilities have the potential to impose a great burden on future generations. The President has raised this issue, and Congress has a responsibility to confront the problem.

To Maintain A Vibrant Economy, The United States Must Become Less Dependent On Foreign Sources Of Energy. High gasoline and heating costs are a tax on the American people. Today, gasoline prices have fallen to about what they were before Hurricanes Katrina and Rita. The Administration will continue to work on making America less dependent on foreign oil. The President signed the energy bill to help America conserve more energy, make cleaner and better use of existing resources, and promote the development of renewable and alternative sources. To expand supply and help keep the economy strong, the President also calls on Congress to pass legislation that would allow us to build and expand more refineries.

  • The United States Must Produce And Refine More Crude Oil And Natural Gas At Home In Environmentally Sensitive Ways. America's most promising site for energy is the Artic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) in Alaska. Technology will allow for the exploration of a small portion of this vast tract of land in an environmentally sensitive way with almost no impact on land or wildlife. Developing this tiny area could yield up to about a million barrels of oil a day. Congress needs to authorize pro-growth, pro-jobs, pro-environment exploration of ANWR.

The Administration Is Working To Prepare Americans For Future Opportunities. America prospers when its workers can look to the future with confidence, and people are more confident when they own. That is why the President is promoting an ownership society where more people own their own businesses and homes and have more control over their lives. So that Americans know their hard work will be rewarded and the institutions they depend on are reliable, the President is promoting reforms to key areas like job training, health care, and retirement.

  • The Administration Is Strengthening Job Training Programs To Help Americans Seek New Skills. Today, many Americans are moving ahead by changing jobs or careers. To take advantage of new opportunities, they need new skills. To help workers get the skills they need, Congress passed the President's Community-Based Job Training Initiative, which has provided $125 million in grants to community colleges. The Administration is supporting institutions that have a track record of success, offer a flexible curriculum, and provide training for jobs that actually exist. Congress needs to continue funding these job training programs so workers can learn better skills and earn bigger paychecks.
  • The Administration Is Working For A Health Care System That Puts Patients In Charge Of Decisions, Offers Greater Choice, And Allows Workers To Own Their Own Health Care. Health Savings Accounts (HSAs) are tax-free savings accounts that can be used for routine medical expenses. HSAs belong to workers and can be taken from job to job. With an HSA, workers or their employers also purchase a high-deductible insurance policy to cover catastrophic costs in case of serious illness or accidents. These high-deductible policies have lower premiums, which mean lower costs for families and small businesses. Since HSAs were created, more than one million Americans have enrolled – most are families with children, and nearly 40 percent were uninsured before they got an HSA.
    • The President Is Advancing A Comprehensive Health Care Agenda. The President has called on Congress to pass association health plans so small businesses can purchase insurance at the same discounts as big companies. The Administration modernized the Medicare system to give seniors more choice and help them with prescription drugs. To strengthen the safety net and help those in need, the President has proposed reforms to Medicaid, and more than 800 community health centers have been opened or expanded. The President has proposed to expand the development of health information technology. Because too many doctors are being sued out of business, Congress needs to pass national medical liability reform.

  • The Administration Is Working To Strengthen And Reform The Rules Governing Private Pensions. Many companies offer traditional pensions and fulfill their obligations to their employees and retirees. But too many companies do not put away the money needed to fund these promises. If a company gets into financial trouble or goes bankrupt, its failure to fund pensions will leave retirees with slashed pension checks. Every American has an interest in fixing this system because the Federal government insures these pensions and has to step in when companies fail to meet their responsibilities. Companies need to keep their promises and have an obligation to make sure money is set aside so workers get what they have been promised when they retire.
    • The President Proposes To Reform Pension Rules. Current pension rules are confusing and misleading. Companies can technically play by the rules and still not fund their pension promises. These rules must be strengthened to require companies to accurately measure and report the financial status of their pension plans and to fully fund the promises they make. The President's plan would give companies that underfund pensions seven years to catch up. Some want to weaken the current law, but the President believes that pensions should be there for workers who have put in a lifetime of hard work. The President will not sign a bill that weakens pension funding for America's workers.

To Keep The Economy Growing, The United States Must Continue Opening Foreign Markets. Ninety-five percent of America's potential customers live abroad. By opening up new markets for American goods, crops, and services, the government is helping the economy continue to create jobs and opportunity at home.

  • Through Trade, America Is Providing New Opportunities For American Workers. Today, many jobs across the Nation are supported by exports. Foreign companies come to America because they recognize the quality, skill level, and ethic of the American worker. At the John Deere-Hitachi plant in Kernersville, North Carolina, the company is actually in-sourcing jobs, and the plant's workforce has tripled as the factory has taken on production that used to be done in Japan and Mexico. In the 21st century, no economy can afford to be an island. To create new opportunities for America's workers, America's economy must be open to trade and investment.

The Administration Is Working To Advance Free And Fair Trade. When China entered the World Trade Organization (WTO), one of the conditions was that the United States and other WTO members could take steps to prevent their markets from being flooded with cheap Chinese textiles. Last month, the Administration reached an agreement with China to limit its increase in textile exports to America over the next few years – giving American companies time to adjust. The Doha trade round has the potential to boost American jobs by reducing and eliminating tariffs and other barriers on farm and industrial goods; by ending unfair subsidies; and by opening the global market to American services. The United States will push for a bold, wide-ranging agreement. The President will continue to use American influence to bring American workers even greater opportunities.

George W. Bush, Fact Sheet: President Bush's Agenda for Economic Growth Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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