updated 1/10/2004 10:25:31 AM ET 2004-01-10T15:25:31

President Bush took a swipe Saturday at Democratic candidates who want to roll back the tax cuts he enacted, saying the reductions have fueled a broad economic recovery.

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In his weekly radio address, Bush cites a litany of improving economic figures — rising home ownership, business investment, manufacturing and stock-market wealth.

Bush gave credit to the three tax cuts he approved. “Tax relief has got this economy going again, and tax relief will keep it moving forward,” Bush said.

The president chose to focus on tax cuts at the end of a week when the issue took center stage in the race for the Democratic presidential nomination.

Howard Dean and Dick Gephardt say they would erase all of Bush’s tax cuts if elected, though Dean hinted this week he was considering a new proposal to reduce the tax burden on the middle class.

“We can continue on the path to prosperity and new jobs — a path marked by a pro-growth agenda that has cut taxes on paychecks for 109 million American taxpayers — or we can reverse the course by raising taxes on hardworking Americans,” Bush said. “The choice is clear.”

Bush’s message is certain to preview a central theme of his re-election campaign — that Democrats who opposed his tax cuts actually want to raise taxes. If all of Bush’s tax cuts were repealed, rates would rise.

Bush said he would renew his request that Congress make all his tax cuts permanent. Some of those cuts came with built-in expiration dates.

“Now is not the time to turn our backs on America’s families and workers and entrepreneurs by letting much-needed tax relief expire,” Bush said.

Bush’s radio address aired while he was spending a long weekend on his central Texas ranch. He returned there Friday afternoon, less than a week after finishing a nine-day vacation on the ranch.

Bush flies to Monterrey, Mexico for a summit of Western leaders on Monday.

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