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Expanding Opportunity

Excerpt from July 16, 2002 Press Briefing with
White House Press Secretary Ari Fleischer

Click here for the full transcript

QUESTION: I have an unrelated follow-up. Senator Clinton has proposed extending unemployment benefits by 13 weeks. Originally, it called for extending those benefits for people who were victims or related somehow to the tragedy on September 11. The bill now calls for an outright extension for anyone who continues to suffer from unemployment. Where does the president stand on that?

FLEISCHER: Congress just passed and the president signed into law earlier this year an extension of unemployment benefits by a period of 13 weeks, and so that is already law of the land.

The president thinks one of the most important contributions Congress can make to fighting unemployment is to pass trade promotion authority, which will create jobs in the country. That's currently stuck in the Conference Committee in the Congress.

He thinks passage of energy legislation will help create jobs in the United States.

The president also calls on the Senate and the Congress to pass terrorism insurance, which is hurting particularly the construction trades, denying them the ability to create more jobs.

There are many things Congress can do this session, before they leave for the year, to create jobs in this country.

FLEISCHER: The president's focus is on policy, and policies impact principally the economy, and they do so in a number of ways. For example, take the tax cut that the president passed into law. The bipartisan tax cut reduced rates, encouraged growth, gave a stimulus to the economy and gave a boost to the economy, and that manifests itself mostly through the first quarter, as you saw, which had growth in excess of 6 percent, as the stimulative effect of the tax cut went into effect, as well as last fall with the rebates.

Education is another example, for instance, as something that affects long term the strength of our country. The policy changes made to have better education, children with a brighter future, broadly impacts the economy as businesses, as employers have a better- educated work force.

Trade promotion authority. I alluded to it earlier. By enabling the United States to enter into more trade agreements with different nations around the world, it creates more jobs for the American people, often sector related.

All of those create more employment. More employment creates more growth. More growth leads to more revenues. More revenues leads to a sounder economy and better fiscal discipline in Washington.

That's the president's focus. All of the above influences market behavior, but the president does not seek, nor would he seek to try to announce any policy that would try to affect fluctuations on a daily basis in markets.