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Bush, Kerry lay out economic views

President touts home ownership; Kerry cites jobs

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Stay will CNN-USA for updates and analysis from the campaign trail as both President Bush and the presumptive Democratic nominee, Sen. John Kerry, press their economic viewpoints.
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• The Candidates: Bush | Kerry
John F. Kerry
George W. Bush
America Votes 2004

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- President Bush and Sen. John Kerry, his Democratic rival for the White House, offered competing visions of the U.S. economy on Friday, with Bush asserting that the country is on the right track and Kerry calling for a "new direction."

Speaking in Albuquerque, New Mexico, Bush noted that a record 68 percent of Americans own their own homes.

He also cited relatively low inflation and a rise in manufacturing.

"Our economy is growing," said Bush, who later traveled to Phoenix, Arizona to deliver a similar speech. "It's strong and getting stronger."

As he often does in speeches, Bush tied what he described as a growing economy to his series of tax cuts -- including a boost in the child tax credit and breaks for small businesses -- and he called on Congress to make them permanent.(Full story)

Minutes after Bush finished his speech, Kerry began his in Detroit, Michigan, where he highlighted less encouraging numbers about the economy.

He pointed to a loss of jobs under the current administration and said the Bush tax policies had benefited the wealthy.

"The truth is this president doesn't have a record to run on, but a record to run from, and that's what he's doing," Kerry said.(Full story)

The focus on the economy caps a week that has been dominated by national security news.

An independent panel investigating the September 11, 2001 attacks held public hearings in Washington, and faulted both the Bush and Clinton administrations for not being aggressive enough in combating terrorism before 9/11.

In his speech Friday, Kerry pledged to create 10 million new jobs in four years. His talk was the first of three that his campaign said will detail his economic plan for the country.

With public opinion polls showing Bush strong on terrorism and international issues and Kerry strong on domestic issues, including the economy, the four-term senator from Massachusetts sees an opportunity to score some political points.

The Bush administration has presided over the loss of more than 2 million jobs in an economy adversely affected by the dot-com bust, a recession and post-9/11 terrorism fears.

Bush cited those factors in his speech Friday, making a point of noting that the economic slowdown began before he took office.

Bush highlighted an increase in American productivity, home ownership and an unemployment rate of 5.6 percent -- below the average unemployment rate for the last three decades.

Bush never mentioned Kerry by name, but he seemed to have Democratic critics on his mind when he spoke about international trade.

Many Democrats, including Kerry, have said on the campaign trail that some international accords have not been enforced properly and have led to a loss of U.S. jobs.

Bush decried what he called "economic isolationism," saying it would "lead to economic stagnation."

Kerry's campaign said his proposal includes tax reform and credits to encourage job creation in the United States, an education and job training program, as well as a plan to "restore fiscal discipline and confidence in the American economy." (Full story)

Friday's speech at Wayne State University in Detroit focused on the tax reform portion of the plan.

John Kerry talks about the economy on Friday in Detroit, Michigan.

"You know, economic plans aren't just about dollars and decimals. They're about choices," Kerry said. "Time after time, this administration has put ideology first and jobs last.

Kerry' also called for sweeping changes in international tax law to give incentives to companies that create jobs in the United States.

Outsourcing -- the relocation of jobs offshore -- has become a key issue in the lead-up to the U.S. presidential election later this year, with Kerry promising to "crack down on the export of American jobs."

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