The White House, President George W. Bush Click to print this document

For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
March 10, 2004

Press Gaggle by Scott Mcclellan
Aboard Air Force One
En Route Cleveland, Ohio

10:43 A.M. EST

MR. McCLELLAN: Good morning. The President had his usual briefings before we departed. The Freedom Corps greeter upon arrival in Cleveland will be Judith "Judi" Firestone. She's a breast cancer survivor, and for the past 11 years she has volunteered with the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation's Race for the Cure. She's going to be the chair of the Northeast Ohio 2004 Race for the Cure this October.

Following that, the President will participate in a tour of Thermagon and talk about the importance of trade to strengthening our economy and expanding job growth here at home in America. Thermagon is a manufacturer --

Q What is Thermagon?

MR. McCLELLAN: -- glad you asked -- of material that conducts and disperses heat. Thermagon's products are used in computer systems, power conversion equipment, telecommunication hardware, entertainment products and automotive electronics. Approximately 60 percent of their products are exported. And it was started in 1992 by Carol Latham, the founder and CEO. Thermagon is an S corporation with $14 million in revenues and 90 employees. And they have benefited from the bonus depreciation that we worked to implement.

Then following that, the President will deliver remarks at the Women's Entrepreneurship in the 21st Century Forum. Just a little background on that. This is the last in a series of the forums hosted by the Department of Labor, the Small Business Administration and a coalition of 25 small business organizations. These are one-day events that provide women business owners with information about various issues relating to small business, including affordable health care and tax relief.

In addition to the forums, on March 4th, the Department of Labor and Small Business Administration and their partners launched the website -- launched a one-stop federal resource, the website, for targeted information, registration for online programs and networking opportunities to help women entrepreneurs. According to the Center for Women's Business Research, in 2003, nearly half of all privately held U.S. firms are at least 50 percent owned by women.

And the President in his remarks looks forward to forcefully advocating his pro-growth, pro-jobs agenda for strengthening our economy even more and creating jobs here in America. The President is optimistic about the direction that our economy is moving because of the actions we have taken. The President believes that there's more that we need to do to encourage job creation in our growing and changing economy.

And the President will talk about his positive agenda for sustained economic growth and robust job creation, and how that contrasts sharply with the pessimistic, old agenda of the past that calls for tax increases and promotes economic isolationism. That is the wrong approach for confronting the challenges of our growing economy and our changing economy. Our economy is in transition and the President will talk about that.

And the President will talk about three basic responsibilities that we need to meet. One being instead of putting up trade barriers, we need to break them down and open markets for American products and services. Free and fair trade creates jobs here in America. And the fact sheet we're going to give you and the remarks the President will make will talk about some of the exact ways it does that.

Secondly, we need to make sure that America continues to be the best place for doing business. And the President will talk about this in his remarks. He'll talk about the importance of implementing lawsuit reform; the importance of making tax cuts permanent for small business growth; the importance of addressing rising health care costs, making our health care more affordable and continuing to make sure we have high quality health care. He'll talk about reducing unnecessary regulations and promoting -- or passing a comprehensive energy plan.

And, thirdly, the President will talk about making sure -- the steps we need to take to make sure that America's workers continue to be the best-trained, most productive workers in the world. As I touched on, we are an economy in transition, we are in a changing economy and we need to make sure that our workers have the education and skills to fill the jobs of the 21st century.

So the President looks forward to going to Ohio today and talking about this. There are obviously concerns in our changing economy about jobs going overseas and that's why we need to -- that's why the President will outline what is a better way to strengthen our economy and creating jobs here at home. The approach that calls for increased taxes and economic isolation is the wrong approach, it'll harm our economy, it'll hurt job growth.

Q Does the President believe that somebody who voted for NAFTA, somebody who voted for the China Free Trade Agreement and supports essential American Free Trade Agreement is really an isolationist?

MR. McCLELLAN: Someone who tries to have it all ways? I think that when someone starts talking about putting up more barriers to opening markets for American products and services that that is promoting economic isolation. That's the wrong approach for our economy at this time. It's an approach based on pessimism. It's a tired, old approach that is based on failed economic policies.

Free trade with a level playing field promotes job growth here in America. And the President is going to talk directly about that. And the fact sheet we're going to hand out to you, it'll -- it points out how foreign-owned firms directly employ more than 6.4 million workers in the United States, jobs that might otherwise go abroad, to foreign workers. And that doesn't include millions of people who work at companies that supply parts and material to those foreign-owned companies. In Ohio, Honda employs about 16,000 Ohioans and 24,000 American workers nationwide. And he will talk about that in his remarks.

Q A couple of congressmen sent the President a letter asking him to support the job protection rights act, or something like that, which would offer companies tax benefits if they stay in America. Does the President support that? Or have you seen the letter?

MR. McCLELLAN: The President is calling on Congress to act on the initiatives he is talking -- he has been talking about and he will continue to talk about today. Congress needs to act to strengthen our economy even more on the initiatives that you and I just discussed. That is the better way for strengthening our economy even more and creating as robust an environment for job creation as possible. That's the President's approach.

Q Scott, what's your reaction to Senate Democrats blocking the nomination of one Mark McClellan because -- from the Medicare job, because he will not allow the importation of Canadian drugs?

MR. McCLELLAN: Well, one, in terms of the drug imports, that's an issue that was addressed in the Medicare legislation, and HHS is moving forward on what that legislation calls for when it comes to ensuring the safety and effectiveness of those drugs.

In terms of the nomination, I think that it's important to keep in mind that this is about improving health care for our seniors and giving them the choices and benefits they need. We worked to pass historic reforms to Medicare and give seniors the kinds of options and choices that they need, that they deserve, so that they can choose the care that best meets their individual needs. Now we're moving into a period of implementing those historic improvements to Medicare and giving seniors the kind of care that they deserve.

And it's important that Congress -- that the Senate move forward quickly to get the -- get this nominee in place so that we can work to implement these improvements for our seniors and give them the kind of care that they deserve and that they have been waiting on for far too long, but this administration acted to address.

Q Would this blocking imperil the getting up and running of the prescription drug card program? Is that --

MR. McCLELLAN: Well, it certainly doesn't help us move forward as quickly as possible to implement these improvements for our seniors. I think that all members should keep in mind that this is about America's seniors and providing them the health care that they need and deserve, and the kinds of choices and options that they need and deserve. And so they need to keep that in mind.

Yes, go ahead.

Q Well, are you going to be able to get him confirmed? I mean, how long can this go on?

MR. McCLELLAN: He was -- he was sent out of the committee just the other -- just yesterday, I guess. The committee approved his nomination and sent it to the floor. He is a highly qualified nominee with a tremendous amount of expertise and experience in this area. And he is someone who has worked in a bipartisan way to get things done, and enjoys broad bipartisan respect for his experience and expertise.

Q So you're urging the Democrats to drop their blocking maneuvers?

MR. McCLELLAN: Well, it -- yes. Yes. This is about implementing important improvements for our seniors.

Q Can you tell us anything about tomorrow's trip?

MR. McCLELLAN: Tomorrow's trip? I can tell you later about tomorrow's trip. Well, he's got an event on the economy, obviously, and then we will visit the Nassau County 9/11 Memorial Foundation and he's -- they've got a campaign reception later. What else do you -- what else are you looking for at this point? That's the general outlook for tomorrow.

Q Can I just follow up on your answer to Dick's question? You had talked about the isolationism of some. Would those comments and those criticisms apply to Senator Kerry and his position on free trade?

MR. McCLELLAN: Well, I think I was asked specifically about Senator Kerry by --

Q Yes, let's know his name here.

MR. McCLELLAN: -- by Mr. Keil, and his approach. And I don't know if you heard what I said at the beginning. But there are some that want to have it all ways and clearly some are trying to put up more barriers to expanding trade and that is the wrong approach. It will harm our economy, it will harm job creation if we go down that road.

Q Thanks.

MR. McCLELLAN: All right, thanks.

END 10:55 A.M. EST

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