Bush's Economic Pom-Poms

By Dan Froomkin
Special to washingtonpost.com
Tuesday, April 8, 2008; 12:06 PM

President Bush yesterday continued his tone-deaf cheerleading on the economy, insisting that the modest stimulus bill he signed two months ago will reverse the current slowdown and result in a "stronger and better country."

Sheryl Gay Stolberg writes in the New York Times: "President Bush urged Congress on Monday to resist efforts by Democrats to pass a second economic stimulus package, saying that while the economy is 'in a rough time right now,' he is confident it will begin to rebound by the end of the year. . . .

"In pushing back against additional government intervention in the economy, Mr. Bush is drawing a sharp contrast between himself and Democrats, who intend to make rising unemployment and the economic downturn a centerpiece of their fall election campaigns.

"But he could be making life difficult for Republicans, who will face questions from voters about what they are doing to make life better for ordinary Americans and who will have to decide whether to stick with the White House or break with Mr. Bush when the housing and stimulus bills come up for votes."

Speaking for all of three minute about the issue that is increasingly alarming the American public, Bush said he had three bits of advice for Congress -- though it turned out his third bit of advice was the same as the first: "[M]y only advice to them is, one, make sure you give the pro-growth package that was passed overwhelmingly a chance to work, see what the effects are. Secondly, anything they do should not hurt the economy. And thirdly, I, you know, I think we ought to, in terms of pro-growth packages, I think we ought to, again I repeat, give this one a chance to kick in."

John D. McKinnon notes in the Wall Street Journal (subscription required): "Mr. Bush also sought to demonstrate his concern over high gasoline prices, saying that 'fuel is hurting people.' He was criticized after a news conference in February in which he said he was unaware of forecasts that gasoline prices soon could hit $4 a gallon. Aides later said he was suggesting doubts about those predictions."

McKinnon also explains: "The Bush administration is being forced into a delicate political balancing act -- one complicated by the slow-turning wheels of the federal bureaucracy. On one hand, the White House is anxious to demonstrate its concern over the shaky economy. On the other, it wants to gauge the impact of the big fiscal stimulus bill the president pushed for last winter before deciding on further action."

Bush explained the significance of surrounding himself with small business owners (hand-picked by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce) who were taking advantage of new tax incentives to increase their capital investments: "[T]hat's important, because in times of economic uncertainty, we want people making investment, so when a person buys an apple press, somebody is going to have to manufacture that press. When somebody manufactures that press, it means there's more likely to be work and income."

Dee DePass writes in the Minneapolis Star Tribune about how local machine-shop owner Darlene Miller came to hear Bush speak. U.S. Chamber of Commerce spokesman Giovanni Coratolo told DePass: "We said, 'Look, Darlene, you have a great story. Let us share it with the White House. . . . The fact is that she is positive and she is going out and buying equipment. She is not reading the paper and sticking her head in the sand and waiting for the clouds to pass."

But Malia Rulon writes in the Cincinnati Enquirer about another Bush guest, Daniel Glier, the owner of Glier's Meats: "Glier's first purchase was a $100,000 clipping machine, which will allow him to automate the placing of metal fasteners at the end of each sausage. . . . Previously, employees would clip about 7,000 packages a day by hand."

Hmm. That doesn't sound like it'll stimulate job growth.

Bush's Faith in Free Trade

Dan Eggen writes in The Washington Post: "President Bush announced yesterday that he is sending a Colombian free-trade agreement to Congress, moving toward a confrontation with Democrats and labor unions that he could lose during a hotly contested election year. . . .

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