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Wednesday, 30 January, 2002, 06:47 GMT
Bush promises to defeat recession
President Bush at a US hydroelectric plant
Bush: "Good jobs depend on affordable energy"
David Schepp

George W Bush has laid out an economic agenda in his State of the Union speech that promotes economic security.

Invoking American determination to surmount its national security worries as well as its economic pains, Mr Bush said: "We have clear priorities and we must act at home with the same purpose and resolve we have shown overseas."

"The way out of this recession, the way to create jobs, is to grow the economy by encouraging investment in factories and equipment and by speeding up tax relief so people have more money to spend," Mr Bush said in calling on Congress to pass an economic stimulus package.

"We will prevail in the war, and we will defeat this recession."

Warm reception

It was a speech greeted with much enthusiasm by both Republicans and Democrats in the Senate and the House of Representatives.
President Bush
Mr Bush called on Congress to pass an economic stimulus package

While the US recession is largely viewed as nearing an end, what awaits Mr Bush is the possibility of a stagnant economy exhibiting few of the qualities of the dynamic boom economy of the 1990s.

To help forestall such a possibility, Mr Bush called on Congress to pass an economic stimulus package that would spur confidence in the economy.

Among his goals, Mr Bush asked Congress to grant him Trade Promotion Authority (TPA), or what used to be called fast-track authority, to make trade deals, subject only to the up or down vote of the Congress - not to revisions.

Energy and education

Aside from his free-trade objectives, the president called on Congress to pass an energy plan.

"Good jobs also depend on reliable and affordable energy," he said, adding that Congress must encourage conservation and domestic production to reduce dependence on foreign oil.

In recalling his success in passing an education Bill, Mr Bush called on Congress to do more, insisting that a better-educated citizenry would be better able to compete in a global economy.

He left behind previous conservative objections to programmes such as Head Start, which seeks to get poor children into school early in order to engender good study skills.

Enron collapse

Mr Bush also called on Congress to provide Americans with health security by passing a patients bill of rights and by granting uninsured workers credits to buy health insurance.
Enron headquarters
Mr Bush did not address the Enron scandal directly

He also called for improved health benefits for war veterans as well as seniors (pensioners), with a programme that includes expanded drug allowances.

While not addressing the Enron debacle directly, Mr Bush did call on Congress to reform 401(k) programmes and other pension plans.

He also said Congress must make Social Security, the nation's pension scheme, sound.

"Employees who have worked all their lives should not risk everything if their company fails," he said.

Budget deficit

Democrats criticised the president for not speaking about the Enron crisis directly, but he has kept his distance, insisting that Vice President Dick Cheney's private meetings to fashion energy policy with Enron officials - prior to the energy concern's collapse - were entirely appropriate.

Mr Bush, however, did say that corporate America must be held to the highest standards of conduct.

Assuaging concern over a rising budget deficit, Mr Bush called on Congress to rein in spending in order to keep the budget shortfall immediate and small.

The budget shortfall is largely blamed on the president's push to cut taxes, a piece of legislation seen as Mr Bush's first victory as president when he signed it into law in June.

He called on Congress to do more.

"For the sake of long-term growth, and to help Americans plan for the future let's make these tax cuts permanent," he said to cheers from Republicans.

Stephen Bell of Deutsche Asset Management
"The arithmetic very much depends on growth"
The BBC's Doreen Walton
"The President says that a united front is vital to get the economy back on track"
See also:

30 Jan 02 | Americas
Bush warns on terror
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