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Tuesday, 27 March, 2001, 21:45 GMT 22:45 UK
Bush calls for lasting tax cuts
President Bush
Bush takes his tax-cut plan to the people

By BBC News Online's North America business reporter David Schepp

US President George W Bush has again called on the Senate to pass his $1.6 trillion tax-cut plan to reignite a flagging US economy.

Speaking before the Kalamazoo Chamber of Commerce, Mr Bush said he was taking his case directly to the American people because he says words get filtered through Washington.

He called for a common sense approach to fiscal policy and tax relief, saying he wanted to put more money in the hands of Americans as a stimulus to an ailing economy.

Mr Bush also countered criticism that his programme favours the rich, by calling for "tax relief for all."

The President said the country needed a pro-growth environment and long-term economic planning to ensure lasting prosperity.

Economic health

Mr Bush likened the US economy to a great athlete at the end of a long race - winded but still strong.

President Bush
Bush drums up support for tax-cuts
The president has previously been criticised for talking down the economy, which many analysts believe remains fundamentally strong.

Fresh figures on consumer confidence on Tuesday seemed to bolster that belief.

The Conference Board, a non-profit business group, said its gauge of Americans' faith in the economy rose significantly in March by over seven points.

Noting that many US investors have concerns about the ailing stock market, Mr Bush said that Wall Street's slide was more than a year old, with the Nasdaq having reached its peak in March 2000, while the Dow Jones Industrial Average reached its peak January a year ago.

Urgent action needed

He noted that the stock-market declines have not only hurt all current investors but threaten to scare off potential investors as well.

The president also listed a host of economic data showing the economy slipping from its former robust pace as industrial production has fallen while unemployment has increased.

"Some regions of America and some industries are doing better, but the trend is clear, and the need for action is urgent," Mr Bush said.

The economy needs more than a boost, he said, it needs long-term planning and tax relief that does not get yanked away in the next year.

Mr Bush was eluding to a plan put forth by Democrats that would provide immediate tax relief but consider long-term cuts later.

Government's role

"The role of government isn't to create wealth," the president said. Rather, it is to provide fair policies that promote growth and a positive business environment.

And in a clear statement in support of international free-trade zones, Mr Bush said, "international trade is in our national interest," and that his administration "strongly supports free trade."

"Trade lifts lives," the president said, "and trade furthers political freedom." He noted that people in the Americas, and eastern and central Europe as well as Africa "are being set free to join the world to understand the promise of market-oriented systems."

"Twenty years ago, hundreds of millions of human beings were walled off from the global economy by the policies of their own governments," Mr Bush said. "Those walls are coming down."

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See also:

14 Mar 01 | Business
09 Mar 01 | Americas
01 Mar 01 | Americas
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