The White House
President George W. Bush
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For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
March 7, 2008

Fact Sheet: Taking Responsible Action to Keep Our Economy Growing

      In Focus: Economy

Today, the Bureau of Labor Statistics released new jobs figures for February. The unemployment rate decreased to 4.8 percent, below the averages for the past three decades, but nonfarm payroll employment decreased by 63,000 jobs. Our economy has added about 860,000 jobs over the last 12 months – an average of 72,000 jobs per month – and more than 8.1 million since August 2003.

As The Housing Market Transitions, The Administration Is Helping Responsible Homeowners Across America Through A Series Of Targeted Actions

Treasury Secretary Paulson and Housing and Urban Development Secretary Alphonso Jackson are leading an aggressive plan to help struggling homeowners refinance their mortgages and make the financial adjustments necessary to get through this difficult time.

Over the latest half year, the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) helped more than 100,000 families refinance their homes. In August, the President and his Administration launched a new initiative at the Federal Housing Administration called FHASecure. FHASecure expands the FHA's ability to offer refinancing by giving it the flexibility to work with homeowners who have good credit histories but cannot afford their current payments. FHA expects this program to help more than 300,000 families in total by the end of the year. In addition, hundreds of thousands of other homeowners worked out their own refinancings with private lenders over the latest half year.

In December, President Bush signed the Mortgage Forgiveness Debt Relief Act of 2007, which will help Americans avoid foreclosure by protecting families from higher taxes when they refinance their home mortgages. This Act created a three-year window for homeowners to refinance their mortgage and pay no Federal taxes on any debt forgiveness they receive.

Congress Must Also Take Action By Passing Responsible Legislation That Helps Homeowners – Without Bailing Out Speculators And Unscrupulous Lenders

The President remains deeply concerned about the housing issue and strongly believes that government assistance must be responsible. The President will not support legislation, like the bill recently considered in the Senate that would do more to bail out lenders and speculators than to help American families keep their homes. This measure would actually prolong the time it takes for the housing market to adjust and recover, and it would lead to higher interest rates.

The President Calls On Congress To Help Sustain Economic Growth By Approving Pending Free Trade Agreements

Approving the free trade agreements with Colombia, Panama, and South Korea will contribute to U.S. economic growth. Exports now account for a larger share of our GDP than at any other time in history, and jobs supported by goods exports pay wages 13 to 18 percent higher than the national average.

President Bush Continues To Call On Congress To Further Reduce Economic Uncertainty By Making His Tax Relief Permanent

President Bush believes the most important action to ensure the long-term health of our economy is to make sure the tax relief that is now in place is made permanent. The 2001 and 2003 tax cuts are set to expire in less than three years. If Congress allows that to happen, 116 million taxpayers will see their taxes go up by $1,800 on average, and we will see an end to many of the measures that have helped our economy grow – including the 10 percent individual income tax bracket, reductions in the marriage penalty, the expansion of the child tax credit, and reduced rates on regular income, capital gains, and dividends.


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