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Bush Says U.S. Economy Is Strong, But Suffering 'Hangover'

By Agence France-Presse U.S. President George W. Bush sought July 15 to restore confidence in the U.S. economy, describing it as strong despite the turmoil that has sent financial markets reeling. "For us to have the security we all want, America must get rid of the hangover that we have had as a result of the binge, the economic binge we just went through," he told an audience of small business owners on the University of Alabama campus. Bush appeared to lay some of the blame of the current unrest in markets and the economy on the excesses of the 1990s. ". . .there was endless profit, there was no tomorrow when it came to the stock markets and corporate profits," he said. "And now we're suffering a hangover for that binge." Revelations of a string of accounting misstatements at some of the nation's top companies, which began last December with the spectacular collapse of Houston's Enron Corp. and has since stretched across all sectors of the economy, have contributed to the spectacular decline of U.S. markets. Still the president, who was later to attend a fundraising luncheon expected to raise $4 million for conservative gubernatorial candidate Bob Riley, insisted the economy was strong. "I want you to know our economy is fundamentally strong," Bush told the audience. Bush noted the 6% growth rate for first-quarter 2002 in U.S. productivity as a "pretty good sign that the foundations for growth are there" within the U.S. economy. The president said Congress could help boost the economy by granting him trade promotion authority and by making his $1.35 trillion tax cut permanent. "I believe when you cut taxes, it spurs economic growth," he said. "If we let you have your own money, you'll decide to spend it on a good and service." Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2002

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