- The Washington Times - Friday, December 2, 2005

President Bush yesterday hailed new signs of a booming economy, including robust job growth, even as the White House acknowledged that it has failed to communicate the scope of the expansion.

“Our economic horizon is as bright as it’s been in a long time,” Mr. Bush told reporters in the Rose Garden. “Thanks to good, old-fashioned American hard work and productivity, innovation, and sound economic policies of cutting taxes and restraining spending, our economy continues to gain strength and momentum.”

But only 21 percent of Americans say the president’s policies are helping the economy, while 40 percent say the policies are hurting, according to a recent Gallup poll. White House officials acknowledge there is a “disconnect” between perceptions and reality.

“To be perfectly honest, I probably have not been doing a good job … talking about how the economy is doing,” said Allan B. Hubbard, director of the president’s National Economic Council.

White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan shrugged off various polls that show widespread skepticism about the health of the economy. He said proof of the economic expansion can be found in the behavior of consumers.

“It’s more of an interest to us what they’re doing versus what they’re telling pollsters,” he said. “And if you look at what they’re doing, they’re spending more, their confidence is up, and I think those are important indications to look at.”

In an effort to reassure the public about the economy, Mr. Bush will travel to Kernersville, N.C., on Monday to tour the Deere-Hitachi Construction Machinery plant, a thriving business that has hired hundreds of employees in recent years. The president will deliver a speech to workers about signs of economic expansion.

He is especially keen on highlighting yesterday’s Labor Department announcement that American employers added 215,000 jobs in November, the biggest gain since July. Economists had forecast an increase of 210,000 for November, following a jump of 44,000 in October.

“We’ve added nearly 4.5 million new jobs in the last 21/2 years,” Mr. Bush said yesterday. “Third-quarter growth of this year was 4.3 percent. That’s in spite of the fact that we had hurricanes and high gasoline prices.”

Mr. Hubbard added: “To be perfectly frank, we actually thought that the hurricanes would temporarily have a bigger impact on the economy than it has.”

The president explained that the economy has been helped by “low inflation, strong productivity, lower gasoline prices, a strong housing market, increases in consumer confidence and business investment.”

Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid was not satisfied with yesterday’s report on new jobs.

“While any job creation in the Bush economy is good news, America can do better,” the Nevada Democrat said. “This is not the time for self-congratulatory pats on the back.

“It’s time to get to work on issues that American families struggle with every day,” he added, “issues like rising energy prices, skyrocketing health care costs and middle-class tax relief.”

The president acknowledged there is plenty of room for improvement in the economy.

“We’re not going to rest until every American who wants a job can find one,” he said. “I’ll continue to push for pro-growth economic policies, all aimed at making sure every American can realize the American Dream.”

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