- The Washington Times - Tuesday, August 13, 2002

CRAWFORD, Texas President Bush brings the vice president and half his Cabinet to Baylor University today for an economic summit with some of the nation's key business leaders and more than 240 Americans "on the front lines" of work and enterprise.
On a "working vacation" here at his 1,600-acre ranch, Mr. Bush "wants people to know that he's genuinely involved and a participant" in efforts to find ways to keep the country "on a path to sustained economic growth," White House Deputy Press Secretary Scott McClellan told reporters yesterday.
Vice President Richard B. Cheney flew in from his summer home in Wyoming for the daylong summit and meetings with business and labor executives, and workers at Baylor's campus in Waco, just a 30-minute drive from the president's ranch.
Eight members of the Bush Cabinet and their top advisers also arrived including Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neill, Commerce Secretary Donald L. Evans and U.S. Trade Representative Robert Zoellick.
Yesterday, Waco's Hilton Hotel closed one of its two parking lots to provide space for the entourage of government vehicles and rented cars that brought administration VIPs to the forum.
The Waco Tribune-Herald, in its Sunday edition, featured a local United Parcel Service driver and Teamsters union member, Robert London of Speegleville, Texas, who was invited to participate in the forum, saying the Democratic Party loyalist "isn't sure how he got invited."
"It was quite a surprise," Mr. London told the newspaper, adding, "My boss at work called me one day and told me he was going to submit my name for this forum. I have no idea why. I'm just a poor working man."
Mr. London, a 17-year UPS veteran, lives only a few miles from Mr. Bush's ranch and told the newspaper that he favors lower taxes. He will be participating in a session on trade relations between Mexico and the United States but said his greatest concern was "the crushing burden of taxes and the mounting expense of insurance."
In his radio address Saturday, Mr. Bush said ordinary people's participation with several hundred others "will generate ideas to strenthen our economy and make workers and investors more secure."
Yesterday, after running three miles on his ranch and holding his daily National Security Council meeting, the president met with White House advisers to discuss domestic issues and review information for the summit, Mr. McClellan said.
"He looks forward to participating in discussions and meeting with people on the front lines of the American economy: working Americans from all across the country," the spokesman said.
Mr. McClellan said business executives of large companies and unions were paying their own way to the summit but that the government is paying expenses for many invited participants of lesser means.
The summit will include eight concurrent sessions on issues ranging from small investors and retirement security to corporate responsibility and health care security. Topics will also include economic recovery and job creation, small business and smarter regulation, education and workers, trade, and technology and innovation.
Mr. Bush said in his radio address on Saturday that he wants the summit to build on prior economic measures to boost the economy, such as the administration's tax cut, expanded trade authority to open foreign markets and recently enacted corporate accountability legislation.
Mr. McClellan said the Cabinet would study the suggestions gleaned from the forums for the president's next round of proposals to Congress.
The spokesman rejected media criticism of the economic summit as a public relations ploy just before congressional elections in November.
"The forum will include at least 14 hours of policy discussions," he said. "There's more that we need to do. This is an opportunity, as the president said, to generate ideas to strengthen our economy and make workers and investors more secure."
The deputy spokesman rejected critics' charges that Mr. Bush's economic team, led by Mr. O'Neill, was floundering at a critical time for public confidence as the economy teeters.
"The president has great confidence in his economic team and the job they're doing," Mr. McClellan said. "There's not going to be a second recession. We're going to talk up the economy."

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