WASHINGTON – Fresh off a Western campaign swing, President Bush (search) told Americans on Saturday that the economy (search) is growing stronger and more jobs are being created despite Democrats' claim that he presided over a downturn for the country.
"Time and again, our economy has defied the gloomy predictions of pessimists," Bush said in his weekly radio address.
"Because of the hard work of so many Americans, and because of the good policies in Washington, D.C., our economy is strong, and it is getting stronger," the president said in remarks taped while he was in Washington state.
"America has added more than 1.4 million new jobs since last August. Our economy has grown at the fastest pace in almost two decades. And the recession was one of the shortest and shallowest in modern American history."
Bush also said 46 states saw falling unemployment rates over the last year, and many of the new jobs are being created in industries that pay above-average wages, such as construction, education and manufacturing.
But to keep America on the right track, Bush said the Senate needs to make his tax cuts permanent, pass an energy bill, keep the policies of open trade going and improve schools and worker training programs.
"Our nation is ready to face the economic challenges that lie ahead," he said. "We have millions of confident entrepreneurs who work hard and take risks and create opportunities for others. We have a culture of innovation where people are encouraged to come up with new solutions to old problems. We have a great work force. With these strengths, there is no limit to how much we can accomplish."
But Rep. Nick Lampson of Texas, in the Democrats' weekly radio address, said Bush's term has seen more and more jobs heading overseas with little done by the president to stop it.
"No matter how hard some of our friends and neighbors work; no matter how much training or retraining they've gotten; the opportunities before them are shrinking," he said. "America's jobs are being sent overseas; even the accounting and computer jobs that we once thought were secure are now disappearing."
Democrats have the better plan to turn the economy around and bring more jobs back to the people, Lampson said.
"The 'American Jobs Plan' would invest in our work force, helping those who have suffered under the existing policies, and those who will lead us into the global marketplace of the future," he said. "Our proposal would put over 2 million people back to work almost immediately, rebuilding the highways, transit systems, and other infrastructure that are the backbone of our wonderful nation."
Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry's campaign also weighed in with a critique of Bush's economic record and his speech.
"George Bush is touting an economy that has seen health costs, bankruptcies, tuition, energy prices, child care and other vital household expenses hit record highs while family incomes have declined," the campaign said in a statement.
Meanwhile, the Kerry camp argued, employment growth has lagged under Bush, the hourly wage of new jobs created is below the national average and the administration has filed few unfair-trade complaints with the World Trade Organization.