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 user 2008-03-03 at 1:56:08 pm Views: 40
  • #21361

    Bush Denies US Is Headed for Recession
    (MARCH 08 ) — President Bush said Thursday that the country is not
    headed into a recession and, despite expressing concern about slowing
    economic growth, rejected for now any additional stimulus efforts.
    “We’ve acted robustly,” he said.”We’ll see the effects of this
    pro-growth package,” Bush told reporters at a White House news
    conference, acknowledging that some lawmakers already are talking about
    a second stimulus package. “Why don’t we let stimulus package one,
    which seemed like a good idea at the time, have a chance to kick
    in?”President Bush speaks at a news conference Thursday at the White
    House. He expressed a view of the economy that is more upbeat than that
    of many economists, who say a recession is near or has already
    arrived.Bush’s view of the economy was decidedly rosier than that of
    many economists, who say the country is nearing recession territory or
    may already be there.The centerpiece of government efforts to brace the
    wobbly economy is a package Congress passed and Bush signed last month.
    It will rush rebates ranging from $300 to $1,200 to millions of people
    and give tax incentives to businesses.

    On one issue particularly
    worrisome to American consumers, there are indications that paying $4
    for a gallon of gasoline is not out of the question once the summer
    driving season arrives. Asked about that, Bush said “That’s
    interesting. I hadn’t heard that. … I know it’s high now.”   Gasoline
    prices are rising quickly and may soar to near $4 a gallon by spring,
    experts said. The surge is cutting into families’ budgets and comes at
    a terrible time for the economy, as growth is slowing. “The effect …
    could be the difference between having a recession and not having a
    recession,” one economist said. Full Story Bush also telegraphed
    optimism about the U.S. dollar, which has been declining in value.”I
    believe that our economy has got the fundamentals in place for us to
    … grow and continue growing, more robustly hopefully than we’re
    growing now,” he said. “So we’re still for a strong dollar.”Bush also
    used his news conference to press Congress to give telecommunications
    companies legal immunity for helping the government eavesdrop after the
    Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.He continued a near-daily effort to prod
    lawmakers into passing his version of a law to make it easier for the
    government to conduct domestic eavesdropping on suspected terrorists’
    phone calls and e-mails. He says the country is in more danger now that
    a temporary surveillance law has expired.Worries about the economy have
    prompted many to scrap daily treats like bottled water and coffee
    drinks. One woman sacrificed her Starbucks Iced Mocha Latte for a
    home-brewed Folgers flavored with syrup. “With gasoline at $3 per
    gallon, I can pass up Starbucks,” she said. Click through the rest of
    the photos to find out how others are saving.

    Bush said the
    companies helped the government after being told “that their assistance
    was legal and vital to national security.” ”Allowing these lawsuits to
    proceed would be unfair,” he said.More important, Bush added, “the
    litigation process could lead to the disclosure of information about
    how we conduct surveillance and it would give al-Qaida and others a
    roadmap as to how to avoid the surveillance.”The Senate passed its
    version of the surveillance bill earlier this month, and it provides
    retroactive legal protection for telecommunications companies that
    wiretapped U.S. phone and computer lines at the government’s request
    and without court permission. The House version, approved in October,
    does not include telecom immunity.

    Telecom companies face around
    40 lawsuits for their alleged role in wiretapping their American
    customers.Senate Democrats appeared unwilling to budge.As Bush began
    speaking, Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy, D-Vt.,
    cast the president’s position as a “tiresome campaign…to avoid
    accountability for the unlawful surveillance of Americans.”"The
    president once again is misusing his bully pulpit,” Leahy said. “Once
    again they are showing they are not above fear-mongering if that’s what
    it takes to get their way.”Bush criticized the Democratic presidential
    candidates over their attempts to disassociate themselves from the
    North American Free Trade Agreement, a free-trade pact between the
    U.S., Canada and Mexico. Bush said the deal is contributing to more and
    better-paying jobs for Americans.”The idea of just unilaterally
    withdrawing from a trade treaty because of, you know, trying to score
    political points is not good policy,” he said. “It’s not good policy on
    the merits and it’s not good policy as a message to send to people who
    have in good faith signed a treaty and worked with us on a
    treaty.”Democratic Sens. Hillary Rodham Clinton and Barack Obama are
    feuding over NAFTA as they compete for their party’s presidential
    nomination, as the pact is deeply unpopular with blue-collar workers.
    Though neither has said they were ready to pull the United States out
    of the agreement, both say they would use the threat of doing so to
    pressure Mexico to renegotiate it.Bush fended off a question about why
    he has yet to replace Fran Townsend, his White House-based terrorism
    adviser, who announced her resignation more than three months ago. He
    said the job is being ably filled by her former deputy, Joel Bagnal.On
    another issue, Bush said that Turkey’s offensive against Kurdish rebels
    in northern Iraq should be limited — and should end as soon as
    possible. The ongoing fighting has put the United States in a touchy
    position, as it is close allies with both Iraq and Turkey. A long
    offensive along their border could jeopardize security in Iraq just as
    the U.S. is trying to stabilize the war-wracked country.”The Turks need
    to move, move quickly, achieve their objective and get out,” he said.

    Russia, Bush said he does not know much about Dmitry Medvedev, the
    handpicked successor to President Vladimir Putin who is coasting to the
    job. Bush said it will be interesting to see who represents Russia —
    presumably either Medvedev or Putin — at the Group of Eight meeting
    later this year in Japan.The president advised his own successor to
    develop a personal relationship with whomever is in charge in
    Moscow.”As you know, Putin’s a straightforward, pretty tough character
    when it comes to his interests — well so am I,” Bush said. He said that
    he and Putin have “had some diplomatic head butts.”Bush also said,
    however, that the pair have “a cordial enough relationship to be able
    to deal with common threats and opportunities, and that’s going to be
    important for the next president to maintain.”Bush also defended his
    stance of not talking directly with leaders of adversaries such as Iran
    and Cuba without setting preconditions. In doing so, he offered some of
    his strongest criticism yet of Raul Castro, who assumed Cuba’s
    presidency on Sunday after his ailing brother Fidel, who ruled for
    decades, stepped aside.”Sitting down at the table, having your picture
    taken with a tyrant such as Raul Castro, for example, lends the status
    of the office and the status of our country to him,” Bush said.He said
    that Raul Castro is “nothing more than an extension of what his brother
    did, which is ruin an island.”