Today, President Bush Addressed The Economic Club Of Washington D.C. And Discussed His Agenda For A Strong And Vibrant Economy. To ensure continued opportunity for America's workers and entrepreneurs, President Bush outlined a pro-growth agenda based on sound economic policy that promotes prosperity, productivity, and innovation in a global economy. He will keep government on the side of economic growth and job creation so America's businesses and workers can compete and prosper.
In The Face Of Challenges, The President Has Acted To Maintain Economic Growth. Over the past five years, the economy has endured the bursting of the stock market bubble, a recession, the attacks of September 11, corporate scandals, rising oil prices, and natural disasters. Each time, the President has acted to keep our economy moving by putting trust in the hard work and good sense of the American people. The President has cut taxes for everybody who pays income taxes, including families, small business owners, farmers, and entrepreneurs.
These Pro-Growth Policies Have Delivered Results. Real disposable personal income has increased by nearly $1,900 per capita. Homeownership has reached an all-time high. Productivity is growing at the fastest rate in nearly 40 years. Over the past 28 months, America has created more than 4.2 million new jobs, and the unemployment rate of 5.1 percent is lower than the average of the 1970s, 1980s, and 1990s. The Administration's pro-growth policies have helped the United States achieve growth and unemployment rates better than Japan and countries in Europe. Today, when people in these countries look for an economy to invest their savings, they often choose the United States.
While The President's Policies Have Helped Create Jobs, Growth, And Opportunity, There Is More Work To Be Done. The coming decades will be a time of tremendous opportunity, and the Administration is working to ensure every American has a chance to realize the American Dream. The President is moving forward with an ambitious agenda to ensure the economy remains the most free, flexible, and prosperous in the world.
The President's Agenda To Maintain Economic Growth
The Administration Will Continue To Keep Taxes Low And Work To Restrain Federal Spending. Tax relief left more money in the pockets of the American people. Vital to maintaining the economy's momentum, the President has called upon Congress to make tax relief permanent. Tax relief has led to faster economic growth which has translated into faster revenue growth for the Federal Treasury. This year, the deficit was $108 billion less than expected. To continue reducing the deficit, the President has submitted a disciplined budget that proposed an actual cut in spending on non-security discretionary programs and will keep the government on track to cut the deficit in half by 2009. As we help the people of the Gulf Coast rebuild, the President will work with Congress to further reduce unnecessary spending and cut programs that are not working so as to provide for emergency relief in a fiscally responsible way.
The Administration Is Addressing Long-Term Economic Challenges. While our economy has shown remarkable resilience, we must continue to make it more flexible and responsive so that it can meet the needs of a new era. This work begins with confronting three broad challenges that affect all Americans.
First, The United States Must Reduce Its Growing Dependence On Foreign Oil. Millions of American families and small businesses are hurting because of higher gasoline prices. The damage inflicted by Hurricanes Katrina and Rita pushed prices even higher by disrupting Gulf Coast oil production. These hurricanes have shown that America's domestic oil production is not keeping pace with rising demand.
The President Signed The Energy Bill To Help Provide For The Needs Of A Growing Economy. The energy bill makes an unprecedented commitment to energy conservation and efficiency by promoting smarter technology; helps make cleaner and more productive use of our existing energy resources including coal, nuclear power, oil and natural gas; and helps diversify our energy supply by promoting alternative and renewable energy sources, such as ethanol and biodiesel fuel. The bill also helps promote needed investment in our energy infrastructure. This is a good first step toward a more affordable and reliable supply of energy for American consumers.
The Administration Will Continue To Focus On Addressing The Nation's Most Serious Energy Challenges. It is time for Congress to take the next steps, including environmentally responsible oil exploration in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. The President will also work with Congress to build and expand needed refineries. For the long term, the Administration is making the investments necessary to move from a hydrocarbon economy to a hydrogen economy, including $1.2 billion for hydrogen fuel cell research.
Second, The Nation's Education System Must Prepare A New Generation Of American Workers To Fill The Jobs Of The 21st Century. As a result of the President's No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB), standards are higher, national test scores are on the rise, and minority students have made progress toward closing the achievement gap. On this year's tests, fourth grade reading scores were six points higher than in 2000 and fourth grade math scores were the highest in the test's history.
To Ensure That American Workers Can Gain The Skills Needed For The Best Jobs, The Government Must Further Strengthen Education And Training. We must extend the high standards and accountability of NCLB to our high schools, encourage the development of more rigorous math and science curricula, bring teachers and other professionals together to share the latest technical knowledge, reform our job training system, and strengthen community colleges. The Administration is providing additional assistance for higher education in the form of Pell Grants so more Americans can afford to attend a four-year college.
Third, The United States Must Have A Health Care System That Puts Patients In Charge Of Decisions, Offers Greater Choice, And Allows Workers To Own Their Own Health Care. Rising health care expenses impose large costs on families and businesses and prevent many Americans from getting needed health coverage.
To Confront Costs And Create Choices, The Administration Has Created Health Savings Accounts (HSAs) And Proposed Association Health Plans (AHPs). HSAs give Americans affordable coverage for major illnesses and allow them to save money, tax-free, for routine medical expenses. Transferable from job to job, the flexibility and security of HSAs are already benefiting many Americans. To help more people take greater control of their health care, the President has proposed tax relief for individuals, employers, and low-income families to use HSAs. Because more than half of uninsured Americans are small business employees and their families, AHPs will allow small firms to join together and buy insurance at the same discounts that big companies get.
The Administration Is Moving Ahead To Reform And Strengthen The Nation s Health Care Safety Net. The government has opened or expanded more than 800 community health centers to improve care for those most in need. The President has renewed the promise of Medicare by signing into law a bill providing our seniors with preventive medicine, better health care choices, and, starting this coming January, a prescription drug benefit option for every Medicare recipient. The Administration is also promoting the expanded use of information technology by computerizing medical records.
Government Needs To Address The Junk Lawsuits That Impose A Burden On Our Economy. Frivolous lawsuits help raise the cost of our tort system to more than $240 billion a year, putting honest doctors, workers, and entrepreneurs out of their jobs. Congress took an important step this year when it passed class-action reform. Now the House and Senate need to deliver meaningful asbestos and medical liability reform bills to the President's desk.
The United States Needs To Confront The Long-Term Problems Facing Our Entitlement Programs. The experiences of nations in Europe and elsewhere show that a failure to control entitlement spending can become a drag on the entire economy. The President will continue to insist that Congress address this vital issue and save Social Security for our children and grandchildren.
To Keep The Economy Growing And Creating Jobs, The Government Needs To Continue Opening Foreign Markets To American Products. Today, millions of American jobs depend on exports including about one in every five factory jobs. Our country is home to about 5 percent of the world's population, and that means 95 percent of our potential customers are abroad. American workers can compete with anyone as long as the playing field is level.
With Trade Promotion Authority, The President Is Opening Foreign Markets To American Goods, Services And Farm Products. The Administration has completed free trade agreements with 12 nations on five continents for a combined market of 124 million consumers for American products. Earlier this year, the United States completed a free trade agreement with Central American nations and the Dominican Republic, giving our goods and service access to new markets. This agreement will ensure that the system is fair for American manufacturers, farmers, and entrepreneurs.
The Administration Is Working For A Free And Fair Global Trading System. Today, we are taking a leadership role in working toward a successful conclusion to the Doha trade negotiations that will reduce and then eliminate tariffs and other barriers on farm and industrial goods. It will phase out unfair agricultural subsidies, open markets for services, and leave all nations better off. Recently, the United States has put forth a bold proposal in the critical area of agriculture to re-energize talks. It is time for other nations to offer similarly ambitious proposals.
The Administration Will Continue To Pursue Trade Agreements To Open Markets And Maintain America's Position As The World's Leading Economy. We must break down trade barriers so that American products are welcomed and sold on every continent. By opening new markets overseas, we create more jobs, a higher standard of living, and greater economic growth. It is time to set aside partisan politics and come together on trade to create more opportunities for families and small businesses.