A Record of Economic Accomplishment
July 22, 2005
Last week, the Department of Labor released its latest weekly report on "Initial Jobless Claims," which showed a 34,000 decrease in the number of unemployed. It was the largest decline since December 2002. The latest payroll report shows that the nation's unemployment rate has dropped to 5 percent, the lowest in nearly four years.
Between 2001 and 2004, the Congress lowered all personal income tax rates and the rate on capital gains and dividends, doubled the child tax credit, and encouraged investment through 50-percent bonus depreciation.
The policies enacted by the Congress have helped our nation recover from the economic slowdown that took root in the late 1990s and was made worse by the economic distress caused by the attacks on our homeland, the bursting of the stock market bubble, and the demands of funding the ongoing War on Terror.
One of the cornerstones of recent economic growth is job creation. More Americans are working than ever before in our nation's history. Our nation's strong, growing economy continues to create jobs and put Americans to work. Today's jobless claims, along with our shrinking deficit and low unemployment rate, send a clear message about the strength of the U.S. economy.
While the economy is growing, due in large part to the tax relief measures proposed by the President and passed by Congress over the past several years, growth alone is not going to eliminate the current deficit. Encouragingly, President Bush, in his State of the Union Address earlier this year, pledged to set a course to cut the deficit in half over five years.
I was pleased by the President's call to control spending and cut the budget deficit-not by raising taxes, but by being good stewards of taxpayer money. We are on track with the President's plan to cut the federal budget deficit in half by 2009. The federal budget deficit through May of Fiscal Year 2005 was $74 billion less than at the same time last fiscal year.
While reducing the deficit is a positive and necessary step, Congress must also control spending. I was encouraged Congress passed a responsible budget earlier this year. This year's spending bills have included a number of important oversight initiatives in order to ensure taxpayer dollars are well spent and managed.
By reigning in the deficit, we have made a strong commitment to fiscal responsibility. If families, businesses and state and local governments have all had to tighten their belts, the federal government should have to do the same.
Sustained, strong economic growth confirms that our policies continue to boost the economy. Our now-strong economy - which is creating jobs and helping to reduce the deficit - will be severely strained if spending is left unchecked.