President Bush, framing the argument, in his message on the economy delivered yesterday in Chicago:
It’s in our interests that we open up markets. It’s in our interests that we demand people treat us the way we treat them in the marketplace. And we got some trade votes that will be coming up this year: Colombia, Panama, and South Korea. It’s in the interest of economic vitality and growth that we provide opportunities for businesses, large and small, to be able to sell goods and services.
Secondly, energy prices. There is no quick fix. As a matter of fact, I signed good legislation, passed by Republicans and Democrats, that enable us to begin to diversity away from oil and gas, and that’s good. But the diversification isn’t going to happen overnight. We ought to be exploring for more oil and gas in the United States of America, and I’m convinced we can do so in environmentally friendly ways. (Applause.) And the truth of the matter is, if we’re deeply concerned about the environment and want to make sure we’re wealthy enough to deal with environmental challenges, we ought to be using nuclear power. Nuclear power — (applause.) We’re working on policies to reform our mortgage markets.
But most importantly the smartest thing we can do is to keep taxes low. In a time of economic uncertainty, we don’t need to be taking money out of your pocket. In a time of economic uncertainty, we ought to be sending a clear signal that taxes will remain low.
House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer issued a withering news release in response:
Instead, the President offers nothing but the same old fiscally irresponsible policies that have produced record deficits, created more than $3 trillion in debt, and resulted in the economic insecurity that Americans are feeling in today’s economy.
Hoyer then highlighted the Democratic achievements:
[Legislation] to cut taxes for middle-class families, help homeowners caught in the subprime mortgage crisis, invest in new efficient energy sources to save on future energy costs, boost assistance for families saving for college, increase the minimum wage, and provide incentives for small businesses.
On the topic of bipartisanship and “changing the tone”: Rep. Rahm Emmanuel (D-IL) accompanied President Bush during his Chicago stops yesterday, and the President made several friendly comments — applause lines — about the Congressman. Emmanuel is Democratic Caucus Chairman. You can bet there are people in the White House today griping, “Why do we bother? We show some courtesy to House Democratic leadership and get blasted for our efforts. It’s not worth it.” Well, it wouldn’t be the first time. President Bush must think the gesture is inherently valuable, not merely as a tactic. We’ll leave it to the reader to judge the merits of that argument.
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