Tags: Bush: | Tax | Cuts | Helping | American | Workers

Bush: Tax Cuts Helping American Workers

Monday, 04 September 2006 12:00 AM

PINEY POINT, Maryland -- President Bush on Monday pitched his tax cuts as the best way to help U.S. workers, but said the country's dependence on foreign oil was threatening economic growth.

Bush, whose Republican Party faces a struggle to keep control of Congress in November elections, has been campaigning by defending the war in Iraq and now its record on the domestic economy.

A Democratic takeover of the House of Representatives or the Senate would undermine Bush's ability to push his agenda in his last two years, including plans to make hefty tax cuts in 2001 and 2003 permanent.

"We ought to make the tax relief permanent. I like it when people are working for a living, have more after-tax money in their pocket," Bush said as he marked Labor Day by touring a maritime training center on Maryland's southern shoreline.

"To make sure that we're the economic leader of the world, we got to keep taxes low," he added.

Bush was courting members of the Seafarers International Union, whose leadership has maintained friendly ties with him, in contrast to many U.S. unions' support for Democrats.

Bush told the workers it was clear that "dependence on foreign oil jeopardizes our capacity to grow."

"I mean, the problem is we get oil from some parts of the world and they simply don't like us. And so 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 have good, high-paying jobs."

Bush, a former Texas oilman, has called for the United States to kick its "addiction" to oil and for tapping alternative fuel sources, such as ethanol, hydrogen fuel cells and gasoline-electric hybrid vehicles.

Analysts say that Democrats stand a good chance of wresting away control of the House of Representatives in November, helped by the increasingly unpopular war in Iraq and doubts over Bush's leadership. Democrats are seen facing a tougher battle when it comes to the Senate.

Democrat candidates have made growing income inequality, wage stagnation, and a ballooning federal deficit under Bush a top theme in their campaigns.

Bush administration officials have pointed to data like last week's employment report - which showed a solid payroll gain of 128,000 in August and a dip in the unemployment rate to 4.7 percent from 4.8 percent - as evidence that Bush's tax cuts put the economy on a strong growth path.

Bush's 2001 tax cut package slashed individual income tax rates and set a phased-in reduction in estate taxes. The centerpiece of the 2003 package was cuts in dividends and capital gains taxes. Most of Bush's tax cuts are set to expire after 2010.

Democrats say the tax reductions have mainly benefited the wealthy and have contributed to a widening of the income gap.

They also contend the economic expansion has failed to help most workers, who have seen meager pay increases even as they face surging costs for essentials like gasoline and healthcare.

The income of U.S. households, adjusted for inflation, rose 1.1 percent to $46,326 in 2005, according to a Census Bureau report released last week. Despite the increase, income was down 0.5 percent compared with 2001, the year Bush took office.

(c) Reuters 2006. All rights reserved.

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PINEY POINT, Maryland -- President Bush on Monday pitched his tax cuts as the best way to help U.S. workers, but said the country's dependence on foreign oil was threatening economic growth. Bush, whose Republican Party faces a struggle to keep control of Congress in...
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Monday, 04 September 2006 12:00 AM
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