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Welcome to "Ask the White House" -- an online interactive forum where you can submit questions to Administration officials and friends of the White House. Visit the "Ask the White House" archives to read other discussions with White House officials.

Al Hubbard
Al Hubbard
Special Assistant to the President and White House Social Secretary

December 6, 2005

Al Hubbard
My name is Al Hubbard and I am the Director of the National Economic Council. I work here at the White House to facilitate and develop economic policy for the President so that the government can foster economic growth and ensure economic opportunity.

We were very pleased that recent economic figures indicate a strong U.S. economy that grew 4.3 percent last quarter and added 215,000 jobs in November alone. In addition, the unemployment rate is down to five percent, lower than the average of the 1970s, the 1980s and 1990s.

The President believes that American workers will continue to drive our economy through innovation and entrepreneurship, and I work to craft economic policies that will create an atmosphere in which small businesses can grow, families can own their own home, workers have access to good jobs and all Americans have the opportunity to achieve their dreams. I look forward to taking your questions.

Julian, from Mountain View writes:
Our economy is declining at a very steady pace. People are loosing their jobs, and gas prices are climbing. Exactly what do you plan to do to fix our economy?

Al Hubbard
The economy is actually growing at over 3 ½ % and has created over 4 ½ million jobs since June of 2003. Estimates show that this growth will continue in 2006. Just today, we got news that productivity growth is up 4.7 percent, the biggest jump in two years, and an indicator of improvement in our standard of living. It is important that we keep policies in place to continue this growth and create new opportunities for American families.

Robert, from Spokane, WA writes:
Do you feel that the slowing Real Estate Market and rising interest rates will create an upcoming "flat economy?"

Al Hubbard
While real estate market conditions vary across the country, recent indicators give reason to believe that growth is moderating to a sustainable rate. More broadly, we believe the economy will continue to expand at 3 ½ %. The high productivity numbers we saw today indicate that inflation remains in check and is an encouraging sign that this growth is sustainable and will continue.

Jimbo, from Ferndale, Michigan writes:
Mr. Hubbard, Could you explain how the nation's economic prosperity is affected by the alarming growth of our national debt during the current administration's tenure? Will it not lead to rising interest rates and unmanageable inflation at some point?

Thank you Happy Holidays.

Al Hubbard
Government spending is a concern of the President's, and this year he proposed a budget that actually cut non-defense discretionary spending. He is committed to cutting the deficit in half by the year 2009 and is working with the Congress to achieve more fiscal discipline. This year, he proposed cutting 150 under-performing programs, and Congress is set to act on over 90 of those recommendations, and is also set to deliver on $35 billion in savings from entitlement programs. These are important steps that we are working on, and I would encourage you to make your concerns known to your representatives in Congress.

Mike, from Rocky River, OH writes:
Mr. Hubbard, What is the president's plan to sustain economic growth?


Al Hubbard
The President believes that the tax cuts that helped create over 4.4 million new jobs need to be made permanent. Increasing taxes on American workers and businesses is the wrong direction to take our economy.

He also believes that government needs to work to create an environment where workers and businesses have an opportunity to succeed – that means addressing the rising cost of health care, working to make the U.S. less dependent on foreign sources of oil, and ensuring that workers have the skills needed to compete in today's economy.

Andrew, from New York writes:
I'm interested to learn more about the economic plans that the Administration has implemented or will implement with respect to the Gulf Region and economic revitalization efforts. Thanks for your hard work.

Al Hubbard
Thank you for that question. The President has made it a priority that the voices of the Gulf Region are heard on this matter and he has made it clear to his staff that we are to support the Gulf as they go about rebuilding. Donald Powell is the Administration's point person in this effort, and he will be working with the White House, the cabinet agencies and the state and local officials to make sure that the people of the Gulf Region have all they need to recover. To learn more and find out how you can help, I would encourage all to look at the hurricane recovery page on the White House website:

Anthony, from Phoenix writes:
What is the GDP-Deficit ratio?

Al Hubbard
Currently our deficit is 2.6% of GDP, which is low by historical standards. As a percent of GDP, the 2005 deficit was lower than the deficits of 16 of the last 25 years.

Kit, from Clinton Township, Mi. 48035 writes:
I live in the tri-county area of Michigan, which is affected so much by the automotive industry and declining large cities, what advice do you have for the young people. Is training and education the only answers for them to look at ? Is the military and the medical fields, the other option ? Is our hope, the political parties that make so much noise at each other, that we can't understand their values and what they truly stand for. What advice do you have for the Seniors, they don't want to lose what they have and would to feel the government is trully looking out for them.

Al Hubbard
Education is certainly important in today's economy, and learning does not end with any particular degree. Whatever age you are, I would encourage you to embrace learning in and out of the classroom through your entire life. The President has made job training a priority, including funding to community colleges, which have become important support centers for our local economies and for our workers. For seniors and those who are approaching retirement, I would encourage them to make their voices heard on topics like pension reform. Just this week, the President talked about the problem of some companies not funding the promises they make to their retirees. The President's plan would give companies that underfund pensions seven years to catch up. Some want to weaken the current law, but the President believes that pensions should be there for workers who have put in a lifetime of hard work, and he has said he will not sign a bill that weakens pension funding for America's workers.

Frank, from Norwalk, CT writes:
What figures are used to determine economic strentgh and how often do they come out?

Al Hubbard
There are many measurements of the economy and they come out on a near-daily basis. Just last week, GDP growth was announced and it was revised upward to 4.3 %. On Friday it was announced that 215,000 new jobs were created in November, and today, we found that productivity was revised up to 4.7 %, the highest rate in two years.

kola, from ukraine writes:
How steady is the growth and what are the reasons for it?

Al Hubbard
We expect the growth to continue at over 3% a year, and economic data continues to show that our current growth is sustainable. Despite economic shocks like hurricanes, the economy has demonstrated continued strong growth and tremendous resiliency. Our strong economy is a result of low taxes, and the entrepreneurial spirit and strong work ethic of the American people.

Al Hubbard
Thank you very much for all of these very interesting and perceptive questions. It has been a pleasure visiting with you. Again, we are very pleased with the U.S. Economy and expect it to continue to grow on a sustainable basis.