The following is a transcript of President Bush's weekly radio address:
Good morning. This week we received additional reports that America's economy is gaining strength.
In November, our nation added 57,000 new jobs and the unemployment rate fell to 5.9 percent. In the past four months, 328,000 Americans started work at new jobs.
In the third quarter of 2003, worker productivity rose at a 9.4 percent annual rate — the fastest pace since 1983. Rising productivity means rising wages. And productivity gains help companies keep prices low, which allows American families to stretch their paychecks further.
Other economic signs are positive. Surveys show manufacturing activity to be at its strongest level in 20 years. Automobile sales rose in November. Home construction continues to expand.
During this season, America's families are planning for the year ahead, and they have reason to be optimistic. The American economy continues on a solid path of recovery. With strong sales and improving profits, companies will continue to hire new workers in the coming year. And because of tax relief, all workers will get to keep more of what they earn, and small businesses will be able to create more jobs.
Since 2001, we have cut taxes for everyone who pays income taxes. We reduced the marriage penalty in our tax code. We raised the child credit to $1,000 per child. And we have reduced taxes on dividends and capital gains. This tax relief is critical because it keeps more money in the hands of workers and small business owners, and others who move this economy forward.
Here in Washington, our responsibility is to make sure this economy keeps its momentum, and I will not be satisfied until every person who wants to work can find a job. I have proposed a six-point plan to strengthen this recovery and bring prosperity to every corner of America. In the coming months, I will continue to work with Congress to achieve these important measures.
First, businesses are more likely to hire people if health care for workers is affordable. We need to allow small business owners to join together in association health plans, giving them the purchasing power of large companies when they shop for health insurance. And we must reform the medical liability system so that health care dollars serve the interest of patients, not the interests of trial lawyers.
Second, we need broad legal reforms so frivolous lawsuits don't put good companies out of business and good people out of work. The Congress should start by enacting class action reform.
Third, we must reduce unnecessary government regulation and red tape, so businesses can focus on consumers and customers, not paperwork.
Fourth, Congress should enact a national energy policy so that businesses and farms and homeowners can count on a reliable and affordable supply of energy and our nation is less dependent on foreign sources of energy.
Fifth, my administration is pursuing free and fair trade agreements so that our products and services can reach new markets and new customers overseas.
Sixth, we should make all the tax relief we have passed permanent. The tax relief is scheduled to phase-out in coming years if Congress does not take action. Tax relief set our economy on the right track and permanent tax relief will keep it on the right track.
By moving forward on this agenda, we can build on the great progress our economy is making. With the confidence and hard work of the American people, and with the right policies in Washington, there are even brighter days ahead for the American economy.
Thank you for listening.