WASHINGTON – President Bush dismissed concerns Thursday that the economy is headed into a recession and remained confident that an economic stimulus package will help the nation amid a lingering mortgage and credit crunch.
"I don't think we're headed to recession, but no question, we're in a slowdown," Bush told reporters at a White House press conference.
Some economists say the country is nearing a recession, but Bush expressed his support for the economic stimulus package that Congress recently passed and he signed into law last month.
"We've acted robustly," he said.
The package will deliver rebates ranging from $300 to $1,200 to millions of Americans and provide tax incentives to businesses.
"I'm concerned about the economy because I'm concerned about working Americans, concerned about people who want to put money on the table and save for their kids' education," Bush said.
Congress needs to make the tax cuts permanent to help Americans deal with uncertainty and rising gasoline prices, Bush said.
The president also urged Congress to renew a terrorist surveillance law to "protect our country from terrorist attacks" by giving telecommunications companies immunity from lawsuits.
The law would grant immunity from millions of dollars in lawsuits for telecommunications companies that helped the government eavesdrop on suspected terrorists after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.
"If any of these companies helped us, they did so after being told so by the government that their assistance was legal and vital to our national security," Bush said.
The temporary surveillance law has expired, placing the country in danger, Bush said.
"How can you listen to the enemy if the phone companies aren't going to participate with you?" Bush said. "And they are less likely to participate if they get sued."
Bush also asked Congress to fully fund the troops in appropriations to ensure success in the war in Iraq and approve legislation that would help homeowners facing foreclosure.
The law, which expired on Feb. 17, makes it easier for the government to eavesdrop on phone calls and e-mails in connection with terrorism investigations. Bush wants Congress to renew it, and to provide legal immunity to telecommunications companies that helped the government after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.
In Iraq, Turkish troops should withdraw their forces "as quickly as possible," Bush said.
Turkish troops crossed the border into northern Iraq to battle Kurdish rebels, but the mission needs to be completed quickly, he added.
"The Turks need to move, move quickly, achieve their objective and get out," Bush said.
Bush also told reporters pressing him about the 2008 presidential election that "I'm not talking about politics."
The Associated Press contributed to this report.