For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
March 13, 2004
President's Radio Address
THE PRESIDENT: Good morning. This week, I met with entrepreneurs and workers in Ohio and New York, and talked to them about how we are strengthening America's economy. Over the past three years, America's economy has faced a series of challenges: stock market decline, recession, terrorist attacks, corporate scandals, and the uncertainties of war. My administration confronted those challenges squarely, and acted boldly. We reduced taxes on families and small businesses, we encouraged new investment and we're seeing the results.
America has the fastest-growing major industrialized economy in the world. American productivity has grown faster over the last two years than at any time in more than 50 years. More manufacturers have been reporting rising activity than at any point in the last 20 years. Home ownership rates are the highest ever. Inflation is low, and interest rates and mortgage rates are near historic lows. The unemployment rate of 5.6 percent is below the average unemployment rate in the 1970s, the 1980s and the 1990s. And last month marked the sixth consecutive month of increased employment in America.
Yet, some industries and some parts of the country are still lagging behind. In Ohio, where many manufacturers are now so productive, they can produce more goods without hiring new workers. In cities like Youngstown and Cleveland, many workers are concerned about their future, about their benefits, and about the opportunities their children will have.
Some politicians in Washington see this new challenge, and they want to respond in old, ineffective ways. They want to increase federal taxes -- yet punishing families and small businesses is not a job-creation strategy. They want to build up trade walls, and isolate America from the rest of the world -- but economic isolationism would threaten the millions of good American jobs that depend on exports. These tired, old policies of tax and spend, and economic isolationism, are a recipe for economic disaster. There's a better way to help our workers and help our economy.
First, we must pursue a confident policy of trade. Millions of American jobs depend on our goods being sold overseas; and foreign-owned companies employ millions of Americans here at home. We owe those workers our best efforts to make sure other nations open up their markets, and keep them open. We want the entire world to buy American, because the best products in the world carry the label, "Made in the USA."
Second, we must remain the best place in the world to do business -- to start a company and hire workers. We need fewer mandates and unnecessary regulations on small businesses. We need legal reform in America to cut down on junk lawsuits. We need to help companies and their employees confront the rising costs of health care. We need to make sure the tax relief is made permanent, to keep our economy on the path to growth and job creation.
Third, we need to make sure American workers are prepared for the higher-skilled jobs our economy is creating. I worked with Congress to pass the No Child Left Behind Act, which is bringing higher standards to every public school in America. We have a plan to help our high schools and community colleges train people in the skills they need. We're helping workers who have been displaced by the effects of trade, by giving them assistance for job training, and health care, and relocation expenses.
Again and again, economic pessimists have questioned the skills and creativity and energy of America's workers. The pessimists have always been wrong. America's workers and entrepreneurs will meet every challenge. With the right policies in Washington, we will maintain America's economic leadership, we will create more jobs, and we'll help our workers achieve a better life.
Thank you for listening.