Monday, September 4, 2006

President Bush used a Labor Day speech yesterday to extol his administration’s success in expanding the economy, but warned that the nation’s dependency on foreign oil threatens long-term growth.

With Republicans worrying about the November elections, which analysts say could cost the party control of one or both congressional chambers, the president called on lawmakers to make permanent a slew of tax cuts, saying, “I like it when people working for a living have more after-tax money in their pocket.”

In a holiday appearance at Maryland’s Paul Hall Center for Training and Education in Piney Point, Mr. Bush said that “dependence on foreign oil jeopardizes our ability to grow.”

“Problem is, we get oil from some parts of the world, and they simply don’t like us,” he said. “The more dependent we are on that type of energy, the less likely it will be that we are able to compete and so people can have good-paying jobs.”

Democrats, many of whom would prefer to talk about the U.S. economy than the war on terror, charged that the president’s economic policies have failed Americans.

“As we reflect on what America’s labor force contributes to our economy and our country, we recognize that under the Bush administration and Republican Congress, America’s working families have seen their incomes drop, and their worker protections and health care benefits come under assault,” Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean said.

“While wages have stagnated and costs for gas and health care have gone through the roof, Republicans have fought Democratic efforts to increase the minimum wage and help kids go to college,” he said. “This is a war on America’s families.”

But Mr. Bush touted his efforts over nearly six years, noting that unemployment is low and job creation high — with more than 3 million jobs created since the September 11 terrorist attacks.

“The unemployment rate is 4.7 percent. That’s a good sign for somebody looking for a job. It means people are working here in the United States,” he said.

Mr. Bush also used yesterday’s speech to press for new technology that will advance renewable energy, from battery-operated and hybrid cars to new vehicles powered by ethanol, which is made from corn. In addition, he again called for an expansion of nuclear energy.

“Nuclear power is safe, and nuclear power is clean, and nuclear power is renewable,” the president said.

Mr. Bush made a brief mention of the war and terrorism issue, thanking America’s fighting men and women for their sacrifices and saying, “They may hear all the political discourse going on, but the people of this country — the people of the United States of America — stand squarely behind the men and women who wear our uniform.”

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