For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
January 23, 2008
President Bush Participates in Briefing with Mayors on Free Trade Agreements
1:45 P.M. EST
THE PRESIDENT: I'm so honored that mayors from around our country have come. First of all, I want to thank you all very much for serving. I've often said being mayor is a lot tougher than being President -- I don't have to fill the potholes and empty the garbage. (Laughter.) But I thank you for serving our country.
We've got mayors from both political parties here. We didn't have a political discussion, we had a discussion on what's best for America, particularly given the economic uncertainty we face. I talked to them about my desire to work with the Congress to get a stimulus package passed, one that's going to be robust enough to affect the economy, simple enough for people to understand it, and efficient enough to have an impact. And I'm confident that we can get something done. There's a spirit of -- that is -- that says we need to take a fundamentally strong economy and help it deal with the uncertainties with a pro-growth package.
One way we can also send a message that we want to continue to grow is to open up markets for U.S. products and services. We were talking about these trade votes that are coming up in front of the Congress, and the importance of getting markets opened up for our workers and entrepreneurs. These trade agreements that we're about to vote on -- there are goods coming from their countries coming to our country relatively tariff free; our goods and services going to their country with a tariff on it. In other words, they're not treating us the way we're treating them.
The American people expect us to be -- expect America to be treated fairly, and that's what these free trade agreements do. It certainly doesn't make any sense to say in a country like Colombia, your goods can come in our way, but our goods can't come your way -- being treated the same way. And by opening up markets, by having us treated fairly, we'll have 100 million new customers. And I like that opportunity for American workers and farmers and business people. See, I believe we can compete with anybody, anywhere, so long as the rules are fair.
And so these mayors who are living close to the people understand that by opening up markets, businesses in their communities and workers in their communities will benefit, and I want to thank you all for coming. We have a good opportunity to get the deal done. And I'm looking forward to working with Congress to get these packages passed. These are pro-growth, and they're good for America. And thanks for giving Secretary Gutierrez and I a chance to visit with you.
END 1:48 P.M. EST