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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.

John Snow
Secretary of Treasury
June 18, 2004

John Snow
Hello, I'll be taking your questions from Las Vegas, Nevada, where I'm visiting with business leaders and homebuilders to talk about our economy and how to make sure we keep creating jobs for Americans searching for work. We're on a terrific upward path, economically, with GDP growth the highest it has been in 20 years and one million jobs created in the last 100 days. Now we need to make sure that we stay on this course of growth. I look forward to your questions, so let's get started.

Jennifer, from Tennessee writes:
Is the economy growing and what are the outward, obvious signs?

John Snow
The economy is strong and growing stronger. The longer American families and businesses feel the relief of the President’s tax cuts, the more the tide of our economy rises.

In the first quarter of this year, the economy grew at a strong 4.4 percent annual rate, combining with the last half of 2003 for the strongest three-quarter growth rate in 20 years. Nearly 1 million jobs have been created in the past 100 days. Consumer and business confidence is up, retail spending is strong and home sales are continuing at solid rates.

Karen, from Portland writes:
Where are the jobs that were created? Portland, Oregon has one of the

largest unemployed people on record.

John Snow
Job growth has been solid across the nation. However, while parts of the country have seen robust growth, in some regions jobs have been slower to come back than we’d like. But we are seeing growing evidence that the fundamentals are in place and a recovery is underway throughout the United States.

Oregon has been especially hard hit by the decline in the tech sector, but has seen an upturn in recent months. In the past two months, the state added more than 15,000 new jobs and the unemployment rate fell from 7.2 to 6.8 percent.

jay, from charlotte writes:
I recently had a friend challange me to tell him how in any way the economy is better now then before Pres. Bush took office. Unfortunately, I could not defend my position. Could you help.

John Snow
You can feel very confident in your position. First, this Administration inherited an economy that was in steep decline and weakened further by the bursting of the tech bubble. The United States suffered further uncertainty from terrorist attacks and corporate scandals. President Bush faced and addressed each challenge, and despite the serious setbacks, we now have a strong economy that is growing stronger.

GDP, the best overall measure of economic activity, has risen over the past year at the fastest rate in 20 years. Productivity, which translates into faster income growth and a higher standard of living, grew at the fastest 3-year rate in 5 decades from 2000-2003. Since the President has been in office, after-tax income has risen by 11 percent – that means Americans are keeping more of their hard-earned money. Today household wealth and homeownership rates are at all-time highs.

The President’s economic leadership and pro-growth policies have led to an economy that is firing on all cylinders.

Marilyn, from Atlanta, GA writes:
I keep reading about how the economy is turning around. However, I see more and more people out of work, more houses reposessed, more qualified people accepting lower status and lower paying jobs. Now we're battling inflation on top of this decline. Where is the big turnaround?

John Snow
More Americans are working today in America than at any other time in our history and more own their own home. At the same time, real disposable income is at an all-time high.

The unemployment rate is lower than the average of the 1970s, 1980s and 1990s. In nine consecutive months of job growth we’ve added more than 1.4 millions jobs.

We’re encouraged by this, but not satisfied. There is more to be done and the President is committed to ensuring that every American looking for work can find a job.

Evan, from Evan writes:
My numbers may be off because I've heard many different figures, so please correct me if I'm wrong. However, how would the President qualify his claim that "jobs are on the rise" when, of the projected 250,000 that were expected to be created, we only saw around 20 per state? Is he merely slanting statistics?

John Snow
I don’t know where you got your numbers, but they are clearly wrong. Here are the facts: More than one million jobs have been created so far this year. Last month, 248,000 were created nationwide.

Today the Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics reported the state-by-state breakdown of where those jobs were created. That breakdown showed that job creation was up in 44 of the 50 states in the last year, and the unemployment rate was down in all regions and in 46 of the 50 states.

Donna, from Kettering, Ohio writes:
I am extremely troubled by the deficit. Can you help put it in perspective for me?

John Snow
We agree that this is a critical issue and a top priority of the administration. The budget deficit that we face today is too large, it is unwelcome and it must be reduced… and it will be reduced. Under the President’s plan, by controlling spending and growing our economy we will reduce it dramatically over the next five years.

Antje, from Camden, North Carolina writes:
With all the good news about our growing economy right now why do poles show that the general population does not seem to know about the good news. How can we be more successful in countering the "liberal depression mantra"?

John Snow
You're absolutely right that the news on the economy is extremely good, complete with robust job creation and high levels of homeownership. Your question is a compelling one, and probably no one knows the answer for sure.

It's almost as if we have recovered economically, but not emotionally, from the economic shocks our country went through in the recent past.

In fact, the speed and strength of our economic recovery was incredible - just a year ago economists worried about a double-dip recession and now we're seeing the strongest growth in 20 years - and maybe that is part of the reason why people don't seem to know; the strength of our economy came back with such velocity.

Paul, from Spencer, MA writes:
What are you (the government) doing to lower the record high gasoline prices?

John Snow
Like all Americans, the President isn’t happy when gas prices go up. And although the markets ultimately set prices, there is action that we can and must take, which is what the President has been pressing for since he was elected.

Congress must pass a national energy policy that increases domestic production and increases incentives for conservation and new technologies so we are less dependent on foreign sources of energy. High gas prices reflect a shortage of supply, increasing demand, and insufficient or old pipeline and refinery capacity.

Finlay, from Portland writes:
Should we be celebrating the fact that there has been job growth in the united states in recent months despite the fact that these new jobs pay less and provide fewer benefits than the jobs that have been lost to overseas companies? What specific steps are you planning to ensure that American workers have their benefits restored?

John Snow
We should always be pleased when people who are looking for a job can find one. The economy is clearly creating lots of new jobs and that is a good thing. We are seeing job growth across the country and in every industry sector, including new jobs in high-paying industries such as construction, education and professional services.

These are good jobs in growing industries. It’s also important to note that real disposable income is up 11% since the President took office, total compensation is up nearly 4% in the last year, and household wealth is at an all-time high.

John Snow
Thank you all so much for sending in compelling, thoughtful questions. I really enjoyed this conversation.

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