Presidential Radio Address - 14 May 2005
THE PRESIDENT: Good morning. I'm pleased to report that we see new signs that the pro-growth policies we have pursued during the past four years are having a positive effect on our economy. We added 274,000 new jobs in April -- and we have added nearly 3.5 million jobs over the past two years. Unemployment is down to 5.2 percent, below the average rate of the 1970s, 1980s, and 1990s. We have seen steady job gains during each of the past 23 months, and today more Americans are working than at any time in our history.
There are other good reasons for optimism. The economy grew at a solid rate of 3.6 percent over the past four quarters, and economists expect strong growth for the rest of 2005. Manufacturing activity is enjoying its longest period of growth in 16 years. Inflation and mortgage rates remain low -- and we have more homeowners in America than ever before.
These positive signs are a tribute to the effort and enterprise of America's workers and entrepreneurs. But we have more to do. So next week, I will focus on three priorities that will strengthen the long-term economic security of our nation.
On Monday, I will travel to West Point, Virginia, to highlight the benefits of biodiesel, an alternative fuel that will help our country achieve greater energy independence. We'll also discuss our need for a comprehensive national energy strategy that reduces our dependence on foreign oil. This strategy will encourage more efficient technologies, make the most of our existing resources, help global energy consumers like China and India reduce their own use of hydrocarbons, encourage conservation, and develop promising new sources of energy such as hydrogen, ethanol and biodiesel.
I applaud the House for passing an energy bill that is largely consistent with these goals. Now the Senate must act. Congress needs to get a good energy bill to my desk by the August recess so I can sign it into law.
On Tuesday I will welcome our newest United States Trade Representative, former Congressman Rob Portman. Ambassador Portman understands that expanding trade is vital for American workers and consumers. He will make sure we vigorously enforce the trade laws on the books, while also working to continue opening foreign markets to American crops and products. The Central America Free Trade Agreement would help us achieve these goals. This agreement would help the new democracies in our hemisphere deliver better jobs and higher labor standards to their workers, and it would create a more level playing field for American goods and services. Congress needs to pass this important legislation.
Finally, on Thursday, I will travel to Milwaukee, Wisconsin, to discuss with young people the importance of acting now to strengthen Social Security. The Social Security safety net has a hole in it for younger workers. For the sake of our children and grandchildren, we need to make Social Security permanently solvent. And we need to make the system a better deal for younger workers, by allowing them to put some of their payroll taxes, if they so choose, into a voluntary personal retirement account. Because this money will be saved and invested, workers will have the opportunity to earn a higher rate of return on their money than anything the current Social Security system can now give them.
The American economy is the envy of the world. For the sake of our nation's hardworking families, we must work together to achieve long-term economic security, so that we can continue to spread prosperity and hope throughout America and the world.
Thank you for listening.