Bush: 'Serious Signs' Economy Is Weakening

After report on job losses, president urges Congress to pass stimulus package.

ByJOHN HENDREN

Feb. 1, 2008 — -- President George W. Bush today expressed his strongest concerns to date over the economy and urged Congress to act by passing an economic stimulus package, following a government report showing a decline last month in the number of American jobs.

Hours after the release of a Labor Department report that 17,000 workers had left the nation's payrolls in January — in stunning contradiction of economists' expectations of growth in jobs — the president acknowledged the growing threat to the nation's economy, but avoided using the word "recession."

"There are certainly troubling signs — serious signs — the economy is weakening, and we've got to do something about it," Bush said in a speech at Hallmark Cards Inc. in Kansas City. "And today we got such a sign when, after 52 consecutive months of job creation, we lost 17,000 jobs. The unemployment went down, but nevertheless the serious matter is that for the first time in 52 months that we didn't create jobs. The question is: what do we do about it?"

He said there are "constructive measures that we can take," in reference to the $146 billion economic stimulus package he negotiated with the House earlier this week.

"One way to address that issue is to have a temporary robust tax rebate," Bush said. "And that's what we're working on in Congress."

Bush urged the Senate to pass the measure unchanged, as he has done several times since the deal was announced. But Senate leaders have said they would like to increase the size and the number of beneficiaries to receive the tax rebates in that package.

"The sooner the package makes it to my desk ... the better off the economy is going to be," Bush said.

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