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For Immediate Release
Office of the Vice President
June 25, 2004

VP Discusses the Economy in Michigan
Remarks by the Vice President at Duro-Last Roofing and Plastatech
Saginaw, Michigan

12:27 P.M. EDT

THE VICE PRESIDENT: Thank you. I'm trying to figure out 9-8-9 for Bush-Cheney. Okay, we'll take it. (Laughter.) I thought, 9-8-9, what could that possibly be? But delighted to be here this morning and have an opportunity to spend some time with all of you. And I want to thank you, Tom, for that kind introduction, and thank Tom, along with Kathy Allen and Sharon Sny for leading the tour of this outstanding facility this morning. And I also want to thank all the workers at Duro-Last and Plastatech for your hospitality today, we really appreciate your letting us come by to spend a little bit of time with you.

I started my day at the White House this morning, and it's my pleasure to bring greetings to all of you from our President, George W. Bush. (Applause.)

My wife, Lynne, is traveling with me this morning. (Applause.) And we will soon celebrate our 40th wedding anniversary. (Applause.) And our fourth grandchild arrives in about a week. (Applause.) But I explain to people lots of times that the election of 1952 had an enormous bearing on the fact that we got married. In 1952, I was living in Lincoln, Nebraska with my folks -- dad worked for the Soil Conservation Service. Dwight Eisenhower got elected President that year. And when he got elected he reorganized the Agriculture Department and dad got transferred to Casper, Wyoming, which is where Lynne was living.

So we moved to Casper, I was 13 years old. We met, went to high school together, and, as I said, we'll celebrate the 40th anniversary here in about a month. But I explained to a group of people the other night, if it hadn't been for Dwight Eisenhower's election victory in 1952, Lynne would have married somebody else. (Laughter.) And she said, right, and now he'd be Vice President of the United States. (Laughter and applause.)

It's great to be back in Michigan. We were in Grand Rapids not long ago, and Lynne and I have been looking forward to this visit today. It's always refreshing to get out of Washington and come out to the real world. (Laughter.) And Michigan has a long tradition of independence, of enterprise and of confidence in the future. Here in Saginaw and around the state, people value hard work and honesty and devote themselves to building strong families and communities. Thanks to resourceful entrepreneurs and to some of the most productive workers in the world, Michigan is the capital of manufacturing for cars, trucks and SUVs. And as the Pistons showed the Lakers last week -- (applause) -- you clearly know a few things about basketball in this state. (Laughter.)

But I see Michigan's optimistic spirit right here in Saginaw. And like many companies in the state, you've faced challenges these past few years and you've overcome them all. Customers are ordering, the company is expanding, you're adding new jobs. It's not hard to figure out why you've been such a success: You have a quality product, a strong business plan and some of the most dedicated workers in the industry. You follow in the superb tradition of your founder, John Burt, a business leader fondly remembered today.

You're meeting the high standards that John Burt set for his company. And Duro-Last established a new record for sales last year and you're on pace to break that record this year. You also added 20 new employers [sic] last year, as Tom pointed out, and I know you're not finished growing yet. I'm told you're planning to expand the ranks with more workers in the next few months. It's a strong, prosperous company, and on the President's behalf, I want to congratulate you for a winning strategy and a winning team. (Applause.)

One of the President's goals for our nation is a healthy, vigorous, growing economy, and that starts with our free enterprise system. We understand, as you do, that the role of government is not to create wealth, the role of government is to create an environment that rewards enterprise so that employers and entrepreneurs have the confidence to expand, to invest, and to hire new workers. That is the principle behind our pro-growth agenda, and I believe we've made significant progress these last few years.

These last three-and-a-half years have brought many challenges to Michigan and to America, and our economy has been through a lot. We faced recession, the terrorist attack of 9/11, and the uncertainties that exist in a time of war. Yet, we've met these challenges and now we see an economy that gets bigger and better every day -- and thanks to the steady effort of American workers and entrepreneurs, and thanks to the sound policy of our President, George W. Bush.

Our pro-growth strategy begins with leaving more money in the hands of the American workers who earn it. So we proposed and we delivered significant tax relief. (Applause.) Taken together, the Bush tax relief achieved a major economic goal: We reduced the federal tax burden on every American who pays income taxes.

When we passed those tax relief measures, some people back in Washington had their doubts. They said tax relief wouldn't matter to most people. Sure enough, some people are still saying that. Every once in a while you see one of them on the nightly news. (Laughter.) But out here in Saginaw, things look different. Because of President Bush's tax relief, more than three-point million [sic] taxpayers in Michigan have seen their income tax bills reduced. More than 1.2 million married couples in Michigan are benefiting from marriage penalty relief. And over 900,000 families here in Michigan have benefited from the increase in the child tax credit. (Applause.)

The average savings from the President's across-the-board tax cuts topped $1,500. The critics say that's not much -- but it sure feels like a lot when you have to send it to Washington, and we did the right thing by returning it. (Applause.)

By leaving more money in the economy, tax relief has also helped more Americans find new jobs. Small and medium-sized businesses create most of the new jobs in this country, so we designed a tax relief to help businesses expand and to hire more workers. We cut marginal tax rates to benefit sole proprietors who pay business taxes at the individual income tax rate. We increased the annual deduction for equipment purchases by small businesses, from $25,000 to $100,000. And for the good of farmers, ranchers and family businesses, we began to phase out the unfair federal death tax. (Applause.)

Tax relief takes time to have an impact on the economy. But now we're seeing the good results here in the Midwest and all across the country. Over 700,000 business owners in Michigan have seen their federal tax burden go down since 2001. They've put their tax savings to good use -- they're hiring more workers. More than 8,300 Michigan workers found new jobs in May, almost 30,000 since February. Since December, your unemployment rate has dropped more than a full percentage point, from 7.6 down to 6.5 percent. (Applause.)

We are witnessing the same positive results all across the country. America added 248,000 new jobs in May alone, our ninth consecutive month of job growth. And American businesses have created jobs for nearly a million workers in the last 100 days; we've added over 1.4 million jobs since last August. Manufacturing jobs have increased for four straight months, and more manufacturers have been reporting increased activity than at any time in the last 20 years. That's good news for factory workers in Michigan, and we're confident that more good news lies ahead.

The national unemployment rate has dropped to 5.6 percent, down from its recent peak of 6.3 percent last June, and it's below the average of the '70s, the '80s and the '90s. The results are clear: The Bush tax relief is working. (Applause.)

We're seeing great progress in many other areas, as well. When we passed tax relief, some said we'd cause a double-dip recession. They were wrong. In fact, the economic growth over the last year has been high -- at 4.8 percent -- GDP has grown at the highest -- second-highest fourth quarter rate in nearly 20 years. Interest rates and inflation are low, productivity is high, business investment is rising. In the past 12 months, Americans have seen their per capita real disposable personal income -- the best measure of the money people actually have in their pockets -- increase 3.3 percent, significantly higher than the 1.4 percent in the year before President Bush took office. The home ownership rate is the highest ever, construction spending is rising. And that's good news for families who want to live the American Dream. America's economy is moving in the right direction -- don't let anyone tell you otherwise. (Applause.)

It's pretty clear the President's tax relief has done exactly what it was designed to do: to add momentum to America's economy and to help more people find jobs. Yet, for all our progress, there is still plenty of work to do. We recognize there are still challenges, especially in our manufacturing communities. That's why we'll keep moving forward with a comprehensive pro-growth, pro-jobs agenda. The President and I will not be satisfied until every American who wants to work can find a job.

We intend to continue to reduce the number of mandates and unnecessary regulations coming out of Washington, D.C. Our administration has already streamlined tax reporting for small businesses, and saved them more than 50 million hours of unproductive work annually. We're going to continue that effort, and businesses like yours should be able to spend their time working to grow, not filling out useless paperwork to satisfy the bureaucracy in Washington. (Applause.)

As you understand here in Michigan, a healthy, growing economy also depends on affordable, reliable supplies of energy. We need to pass sound energy legislation that promotes clean, efficient technology, conservation and new domestic production. If we had started the environmentally safe development of ANWR in Alaska 15 years ago, when it was first proposed, that oil would now be arriving by pipeline at the rate of up to a million barrels a day. For the sake of economic security and our national security, Congress needs to pass legislation to make America less dependent on foreign sources of energy. (Applause.)

Our economy also needs lawsuit abuse reform. Junk and frivolous lawsuits can ruin an honest business. (Applause.) They put people out of work. They clog the courts, delaying justice for people with real legal grievances. It's a lot easier for America's entrepreneurs to hire new workers if they don't have to keep hiring lawyers. (Applause.)

Here in Michigan and across the country, we also need to make sure that frivolous medical malpractice lawsuits don't run good doctors out of business and further drive up medical costs. (Applause.) No one has ever been healed by a frivolous lawsuit, so Congress needs to pass medical liability reform and they need to do it soon.

One of the vital choices facing our economy is the approach to trade. We're going to keep working to bring down trade barriers so we can open up more markets for American products. Michigan ranks 5th in the nation in exports. Last year, businesses in this state had almost $33 billion in sales outside the United States. Exports from Michigan to Canada and Mexico have increased by over a third since passage of NAFTA. Our policy of open trade is helping Michigan products reach new, growing markets, as well. Exports from Michigan to China and South Korea have increased almost 90 percent in the last five years. And exports from Michigan to the United Arab Emirates nearly doubled last year alone. Michigan is selling millions of dollars worth of cars and chemical products and computers on the world market. Michigan is making what the world wants to buy. (Applause.)

The next time you hear someone talk about putting up barriers to trade, remind them that about 97 percent of America's exporters are small or medium-sized companies, like Duro-Last and Plastatech. (Applause.) Nationwide, one in five factory jobs depends directly on trade. And a lot of those jobs are in manufacturing states like Michigan. The surest way to threaten all of those jobs would be a policy of tariffs and barriers and economic isolation. Some in Washington still want to take that course, but we will not give in to the temptation. For the sake of growth and jobs, and for the good of our economic future, the United States of America must remain a confident, successful, trading nation. (Applause.)

In order to generate more jobs and to maintain economic growth, we also need to create certainty in the tax code. Families and entrepreneurs need to be able to plan for the future. But unless Congress acts, the tax relief recently passed -- and has proven so successful -- will expire. Small businesses will lose incentives to invest in new equipment. Marginal tax rates on sole proprietors and families will increase. The income tax burden for a family of four earning $40,000 a year will go up by almost a thousand dollars. And small business owners, farmers, and entrepreneurs will see the death tax rise from the dead. Higher taxes now will take us in exactly the wrong direction. For the sake of jobs, and for the sake of American families, Congress needs to make the Bush tax cuts permanent. (Applause.)

In Michigan and around the nation, American families, workers and businesses have welcomed President Bush' tax relief, and used it to drive the economy forward. And all Americans can be certain of this: We're going to maintain a pro-growth, pro-entrepreneur, pro-job strategy in Washington. With the right policies, and with the incredible energy and talent of American workers, we'll keep the strong, growing economy going and see even better days in the greatest nation on earth.

Once again, I want to thank all of you for your hospitality, congratulate you on your success, keep up the good work. Thank you very much. (Applause.)

END 12:45 P.M. EDT

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