President urges faith in economy as he stumps for Riley in Alabama

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, July 16, 2002

BNI Newswire

President Bush urged Alabama residents Monday to maintain their confidence in the economy.

"In spite of the fact we were in a slump for a while, American business workers are resolved and the economy is coming back – it’s a fact," he said.

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Even as he spoke, though, the stock market was falling in the triple digits again, although it ended down just 45 points, recovering from a 440-point slide.

Bush addressed some 1,000 business and political leaders as well as Alabama residents at the University of Alabama at Birmingham’s Alys Stephens Center.

The president traveled to Alabama Monday morning to aid in fund-raising for Republican gubernatorial candidate Bob Riley, an effort that well exceeded expectations and the president’s past record.

Bush pointed out three strategies that would help America "get over the hangover from the economic binge."

He focused on long-term economic growth, an end to runaway Congressional spending and the highest ethical standards in corporate America.

Bush spoke about expanding trade to help Alabama’s farmers, who he called, "the best in the world."

"We need to open up the markets, so more people can find work – right here in America," he said.

He told those gathered that small business owners create most of the jobs in America, and the best plan is to reduce taxes for individuals so they are reduced for small businesses as well.

He mentioned Alabama’s 2,000 additional jobs opening at the Honda plant, noting that an educated workforce is necessary and that education begins in the public schools.

Following last week’s announcement that the federal deficit is greater than expected, Bush said he will enforce "fiscal discipline" in Washington, beginning with congressional spending.

"You are better at spending your money than I am," he said, referring to proposed tax cuts.

Turning to the financial news that has dominated headlines over the past week – and threatened his popularity in the polls – Bush proposed disciplinary measures for corporate fraud.

"We can’t pass laws to make people honest, but we can pass laws saying, ‘if you’re not honest, we’re gonna get ya’," he said. "By far, the vast majority (in corporate America) are good people, but a few have ruined it for everybody."

Bush said he has created a corporate task force in the U.S. Justice Department to address problems such as those at Enron and WorldCom.

Some of the disciplinary actions he has recommended include double jail time for those prosecuted and the inability of an offender ever to serve as CEO or on a board of directors again.

The president ended his remarks on a positive note.

"Out of the evil done to America," the president said, "will come peace. Out of the evil done to America will come economic vitality.

"My vision for this country is one that is positive and hopeful. I believe there is a better day right around the corner for all Americans."