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Bush urges Congress to deliver 'good economic news'

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Saying Americans have been hearing "too much troubling economic news," President Bush urged Congress to give the country some good news by passing his tax cut.

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"This would be good news for families struggling to pay off debt and to save for the future," said the president in his weekly radio address. "And it would be good news for our broader economy, good news for economic growth and job creation and consumer confidence."

After one of the worst weeks in the stock market's history, the White House and lawmakers are starting to talk about the need to accelerate any tax cut in the first year, to get more money into people's hands more quickly, and thereby to stimulate the economy.

Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neill has been encouraging Senate lawmakers to speed any tax cut plan, as long as it does not increase the size above the president's goal of $1.6 trillion over 10 years, senior administration officials tell CNN.

"It is only common sense to give our economy a boost in a slowdown," said the president. "For several months, economic indicators have pointed toward a slowdown and now many Americans are beginning to feel its impact in your lives."

Democrats, who accuse the president of talking down the economy to muster support for his tax proposals, say his plan is risky in the current economic uncertainty because it relies on a $5.6 trillion projected 10-year federal budget surplus that may never materialize.

"What family would commit all their paycheck income for the next 10 years up front?" asked Rep. Robert Menendez, D-New Jersey, in the Democratic radio address. "None of you would. That's like playing Russian Roulette with our economic future."

Menendez said this week's market performance showed the unreliability of 10-year predictions.

"If the predictions of future surpluses are off -- as they often are -- we could end up deep in debt again, with all the hard work of the last eight years down the drain," he added.

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Democrats are pushing a $750 billion tax cut plan, which would be targeted more to the lower and middle classes than the president's proposal.

Bush, saying his plan has "so much momentum," is calling for an across-the-board cut in all marginal income tax rates, a doubling of the $500 per child tax credit, and an elimination of the tax penalty on married couples and the tax on estates.

"The Senate should act quickly on my plan for two reasons," said the president. "First, tax relief is good news for our economy, which needs some good news. Second, my tax reform plan will treat everyone fairly."

Bush is spending the weekend at the presidential retreat at Camp David, Maryland, with wife Laura. The Bushes plan to return to the White House Sunday afternoon.



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