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Bush says job creation a top priority

President Bush on Thursday parted company with a top economic adviser on companies' policy of "outsourcing" jobs overseas, saying that putting unemployed Americans back to work is a top priority.
/ Source: The Associated Press

Creating jobs for unemployed Americans on U.S. soil is a top priority, President Bush said Thursday as debate simmered in Washington over his economic adviser’s description of the loss of U.S. jobs to overseas companies as “just a new way of doing international trade.”

“There are still some people looking for work because of the recession,” Bush told a crowd at Central Dauphin High School in central Pennsylvania, the nation’s fifth-largest electoral prize, and one that he lost in 2000. “There are people looking for work because jobs have gone overseas, and we need to act in this country.

“We need to act to make sure there are more jobs at home and people are more likely to retain a job.”

Jobs are a sensitive issue in this year’s election with more than 8 million Americans out of work. While the U.S. economy is on the upswing, job growth has been slow, creating a sore spot for the Bush campaign. Since the president took office, the nation has lost 2.2 million payroll jobs.

In the White House's annual economic report to Congress on Monday, administration experts indicated they believe that the nation has turned the corner on employment, forecasting that the economy would grow by 4 percent and create 2.6 million new jobs this year.

The Bush administration has come under fire from both Democrats and Republicans since Monday when Gregory Mankiw, chairman of the President’s Council of Economic Advisers, made the comment about American jobs being sent overseas — a practice known as outsourcing.

“In a report President Bush sent to Congress this week, he says sending jobs overseas is good for America and good for our economy,” said Sen. Edward Kennedy, D-Mass.

“All I can say is, ‘Mr. President, what planet are you living on?’ Americans want and need good jobs to support their families — not in Asia or Europe or Latin America or Mars.”

Hastert's dissension
In a rare split with the White House, House Speaker Dennis Hastert said Wednesday that he disagreed that shipping American jobs abroad — a practice known as outsourcing — was good for the U.S. economy. “We can’t have a healthy economy unless we have more jobs here in America,” said Hastert, R-Ill.

Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan on Wednesday defended Mankiw. Like many economists, Greenspan supports free trade, believing that allowing each country to produce the products it makes best, provides consumers with the benefit of goods at the cheapest prices.

Greenspan and Mankiw have also both advanced the argument that the jobs shipped overseas in manufacturing in recent years are not lost forever because a robust U.S. economy will produce new jobs in different fields. That was the heart of Bush’s message in his 25th trip to Pennsylvania since he became president.

The president highlighted his job growth plan. He has proposed spending $250 million to fund partnerships between community colleges and employers to train workers in high-demand sectors; $100 million to help students with reading, and $120 million to improve math education.

Bush also is seeking to expand advanced-placement programs in low-income schools and has proposed larger Pell Grants for students who prepare for college with demanding courses in high school.

“As we overcome the recession and war and emergency, we better make sure we got a work force that’s prepared for the higher paying of the 21st century,” Bush said during an informal discussion with students, education officials and others in the school’s gymnasium.