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Bush to N. Korea: We know what you're doing

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  • NEW: Bush seeks to increase pressure on Iran, North Korea, Syria
  • Bush says people looking to Congress for action and only getting delay
  • Bush asks Congress to focus on energy, food prices, mortgages, student loans
  • Bush calls on Congress to send him sensible and effective bills
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WASHINGTON (CNN) -- President Bush said details released last week of an attack on a Syrian facility were intended to "make clear to North Korea that we know more about you than you think."

President Bush on Tuesday accused Congress of not addressing Americans' financial fears.

The Israelis attacked the site in Syria last September.

The White House said last week the target of the bombing was a covert nuclear reactor that was likely "not intended for peaceful purposes."

The White House has accused North Korea of helping Syria build a nuclear facility, and analysts said the pictures and videos the White House released were similar to those of a typical North Korea reactor. Video Watch what the photos show »

The president said his administration briefed Congress about the bombing in order to increase pressure on Iran, Syria and North Korea.

Senior administration and intelligence officials briefed select members of Congress on Thursday regarding evidence to support their belief that North Korea assisted Syria's nuclear activities.

In his clearest public comments to date about the incident, Bush said he also intended to "send a message to Iran and the world just how destabilizing nuclear proliferation will be in the Middle East."

Syria's ambassador to the United States has criticized the Bush administration's claims, saying Syria never worked with North Korea on a nuclear program.

The White House has asked the United Nations' nuclear watchdog agency to investigate the alleged Syrian nuclear program, prompting a complaint from the agency that the United States should not have waited eight months to contact it.

The president's comments on Syria came during the question-and-answer session with reporters that followed his address about the economy.

In his opening remarks, the president blasted Congress for not addressing Americans' financial fears. Video Watch Bush's message to Congress »

Bush said people are looking to leaders in Congress to take action, but "all they are getting is delay."

Asked if he was premature in saying the economy is not in a recession, Bush said "the average person doesn't really care what we call it."

"The average person wants to know whether or not we know that they're paying higher gasoline prices and they're worried about staying in their homes," he said.

The president accused a reporter of trying to drag him into presidential election when he was asked his stance on a proposal to temporarily suspend the federal gas tax.

Sens. Hillary Clinton and John McCain support the proposal, but Sen. Barack Obama opposes it.

"What I'm not going to do is jump right in the middle of a presidential campaign. We'll let the candidates argue out their ideas," he said. "I just told you I'll consider the ideas. If it's a good idea, we embrace it. If not, we're analyzing the different ideas coming forward."

Bush said he has repeatedly submitted proposals to deal with the economy, but "time after time, Congress chose to block them."

He called on Congress to send him sensible and effective bills to keep the country moving forward.

Bush asked Congress to focus on four areas: energy, food prices, mortgage payments and student loans.

The president urged Congress to pass legislation that would lead to more affordable and reliable energy at home. He also called for a fiscally responsible bill that would reform farm programs without putting new burdens on consumers.

He criticized Congress for "considering a massive, bloated farm bill that would do little to solve the problem."

"America's farm economy is thriving. The value of farmland is skyrocketing. And this is the right time to reform our nation's farm policies by reducing unnecessary subsidies," he said.

The president also said proposed legislation is coming to help modernize the home loan industry through Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae reforms, and Congress needs to do more to expand the federal authority to buy student loans.

"Americans are looking for their leaders to come together to work on these things responsibly," said Bush. "I don't think that's too much to ask."

But Democratic leaders said the blame instead lies with the president.

Sen. Charles Schumer, D-New York, said the president is out of touch with the pains that Americans feel from the economic downturn.

"The president doesn't understand the struggles of American families," he said. "Everyone is having a tough time to make ends meet."

Schumer also said that Bush has failed to address the most important factors that continue to drag down the economy.

"The president has lost control of the economy," he said. "He has ignored repeated shots across the bow: record oil prices, the housing crisis ... none of these things are being addressed."


Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, D-California, called on the president to drop his veto threat from House legislation that would give tax credits for renewable energy.

The bill would "save 116,000 green jobs and create hundreds of thousands more," she said in a written statement. E-mail to a friend E-mail to a friend's David Goldman contributed to this report.

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