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Inside Politics

Bush touts tax relief, Edwards slams Bush record


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WASHINGTON (CNN) -- President Bush, who credits three years of tax relief programs with helping strengthen the slow economy, said Saturday he would sign into law the Working Families Tax Relief Act to preserve tax cuts.

"Higher taxes are the wrong policy for this growing economy," Bush said in his weekly radio address on Saturday.

While Bush insists the economy is getting stronger, vice presidential candidate Sen. John Edwards challenged those claims Saturday during the Democratic radio address.

"The unemployment rate in Ohio has gone up 60 percent since George Bush took office," he said. "Health care costs are skyrocketing. Family incomes are going down and more families are losing their homes than ever before."

Further, "1.6 million private sector jobs are gone," Edwards said.

Bush's legislation keeps in place major portions of the tax relief that his administration has passed over the last three years, such as tax relief for married couples, the $1,000 child tax credit, and the expanded 10 percent tax bracket, Bush said.

It also increases the refund limit on the child tax credit, which means about 7 million low-income families will get higher refund checks next year, according to Bush.

"Because we acted, 94 million Americans will have a lower tax bill again next year, including 70 million women and 38 million families with children," he said.

The Sen. John Kerry-Edwards team plans to end tax breaks for companies that ship jobs overseas and hopes to create tax breaks for those that keep jobs in the U.S.

Bush said that the American economy grew at an annual rate of 3.3 percent in the second quarter, and the unemployment rate dropped almost a full point since June 2003 to its current 5.4 percent.

"We've added 1.7 million jobs since August 2003, including 107,000 manufacturing jobs since January," Bush said.

Edwards just spent two days in Ohio where more than 237,000 jobs have been lost due to the economy.

"The struggles people face in Ohio and the weakness in our economy are a direct result of decisions made by George Bush and Dick Cheney, and those decisions are the direct result of a vision that honors wealth and privilege rather than work and responsibility," Edwards said.

The issue of Iraq

Also in his radio address, Edwards said Kerry proved in the presidential debate on Thursday that he is the best person to win the war against terrorism.

"He (Kerry) laid out a clear plan to hunt down these terrorists and kill them before they harm us," said Edwards. "George Bush had a chance to come clean and level with the American people about the failures of his foreign policy. He did not."

Rather, Bush has made a "mess" in Iraq by losing focus on the real problem, which was capturing Osama bin Laden and addressing the more relevant nuclear threats, according to Edwards.

"He (Bush) failed to take responsibility for the way in Afghanistan he walked away from the real fight against al Qaeda and capturing Osama bin Laden," Edwards said.

"He failed to take responsibility for the fact that he has stood on the sidelines while the nuclear dangers from North Korea and Iran have grown. George Bush cannot fix the mess. He created it. He can't fix it because he even refuses to admit that there is a problem."

On Saturday, Bush defended his policy in Iraq in a talk before a business group, ridiculing what he labeled the "Kerry doctrine" for going to war.

"When our country is in danger, it is not the job of the president to take an international poll, it's to defend our country," Bush said, in reference to Kerry's goal of gaining more international support for the effort in Iraq.

Bush vowed that as president he would make sure that "our national security decisions will be made in the Oval Office."


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