Bush Touts Economic Forum

Tuesday is the big day for what the White House is calling its economic forum, an opportunity for 250 businesses to discuss measures that will strengthen the economy and make workers and investors more secure.

The Bush administration has been careful not to call the event a "summit," perhaps because that word implies a meeting of two opposing sides, and Democratic leaders were pointedly not invited to the discussion.

Baylor University in Waco, Texas will be the site of the meeting of small business owners, investors, union members, workers, business ethics experts, Bush Cabinet members and the president and vice president.

The White House insists the result will be an airing of a wide range of views on how to jump-start the economy, whose recovery from last year's recession has been fitful and sluggish.

President Bush will attend a number of separate panel discussions involving groups devoted to such topics as "economic recovery and job creation," "corporate responsibility" and "small investors and retirement security."

Over the weekend, Bush touted the economy and promoted the forum.

"I am pleased with the reports about the productivity of American workers. I thought that was a continuing signal that our economy grows and strengthens. Next week I'll be having an economic summit that we'll discuss ways that we can further job growth," Bush said in his weekly radio address.

The productivity report the president seemed to be referring to was one that was released by the Labor Department last week, showing that U.S. productivity grew by 1.1 percent in the second quarter, down from the first quarter rate of 8.6 percent.

Democrats have been stepping up their attacks on the president lately with an eye on the November mid-term elections.

They attacked his stewardship of the economy and likened the forum to a "glorified fund-raiser."

"In order to get an invitation to this photo-op, you need to march in lockstep with this administration and maybe even write a check to the RNC," said Democratic National Committee Chairman Terry McAuliffe. "But there's no seat at the table for average Americans. There's no seat at the table for Democrats. There's no seat at the table for members of Congress. Every seat at the table has a sign that says: 'Reserved For Special Interests Only.'"

Among the speakers are Charles Schwab, CEO of Charles Schwab Inc., which gave more than $400,000 to GOP candidates in 2000; Glen A. Barton, an executive of Caterpillar, which gave $255,000; and John T. Chambers, CEO of Cisco Systems, which contributed $435,000.

The White House, however, emphasized that the guest list also includes a restaurant owner in Delaware, a Mexican-American business owner in Southern California, a parcel delivery driver in Waco and a Wichita, Kan., man who worked his way up from a rank-and-file worker to management at Boeing.

Bush said he is "eager to hear from Americans from all walks of life, who are working hard to make ends meet in these uncertain economic times.''

After the president sits in on the first four panel discussions, he will address the plenary session scheduled for noon Eastern time.

Fox News' James Rosen and the Associated Press contributed to this report.