ELIZABETH, N.J. – In a week marked by the launch of his re-election campaign, President Bush (search) heralded the strength and importance of small business owners and thanked them for taking the risk required to keep the economy on track.
Returning from a long weekend celebrating Father's Day with the former president, Bush said the entrepreneur will benefit from a recently enacted tax cut that enables businesses to invest in equipment.
"Part of being a land of opportunity is continuing to foster what I call an ownership society: to encourage value and honor, people owning their own business or owning their own home, maybe someday owning their own pension plan in the Social Security system, having the right to make choices in the health care sector," Bush said.
While pumping the U.S.-led success in the Iraq war, Bush must also focus on the economy in order to lock up his re-election. In the coming days, he has scheduled several events that target his economic efforts and promote his 2004 campaign.
"The tax relief proposal was based on a simple principle: it starts with the money we spend in Washington was not the government's money, it was the people's money. And when you got additional money in your pocket, you're going to demand a good or service. And when you demand a good or service in this economy, somebody is going to meet that demand. Somebody will produce a good or service and when that happens, somebody is more likely to find work," Bush told small business owners.
Bush signed the $350 billion tax-cut package into law on May 28. The new law enables small businesses to write off $100,000 in new equipment purchases right now, and all businesses can write off half their investments this year. It also provides a $400 per child increase in the child tax credit. The increase applies to everyone making more than $27,000.
Bush stressed that many business owners are already moving to take advantage of the new provisions.
Prior to his speech, Bush toured a frozen pasta-making company in residential Orange, N.J. that he held up as a prime example of the economic recovery that could come from tax breaks: Andrea Foods (search) is considering buying new manufacturing and freezing equipment that could create 20 new jobs, he said.
The White House called Small Business Administration chief Hector Barretto (search) back early from vacation to join Bush at the New Jersey appearances, one measure of the urgency with which the administration views the sagging economy.
Bush also addressed the cost to small businesses from expensive health care and lawsuits against doctors.
"If you're interested in having a health care system that provides affordable and accessible health care, you ought to join the efforts to have medical liability reform," he said.
The president also spoke about energy policy, which has been bogged down during his entire administration. The House has already passed a bill similar to the president's plan, and the Senate is in the midst of debate.
"We need an energy policy that uses our technologies in such a way that we can explore in environmentally safe ways for additional supplies of natural gas," Bush said. "The Congress must act. I have proposed common-sense, reasonable energy policy for America ... for the sake of America's consumers and small businesses, we need a national energy policy.
On Tuesday, the president will be close to Washington, D.C., discussing employment training in Annandale, Va. Later that day, he headlines the first fund-raiser of his 2004 campaign.
On Thursday, he takes up economic growth again in Minneapolis, and on Friday he resumes fund-raising in Greensboro, Ga. Later this month, he raises money in San Francisco, Los Angeles, Tampa and Miami.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.