Bush says rebate checks will boost ailing economy

U.S. President George W. Bush sought to assure Americans on Saturday that federal checks en route to them as part of a stimulus plan will help spur the ailing economy and pay for soaring gas and food prices, the dpa reported.

"These rebates will deliver up to $600 per person, $1,200 per couple, and $300 per child," Bush said in his weekly radio address.

"This package will help American families increase their purchasing power and help offset the high prices that we're seeing at the gas pump and the grocery store," Bush said, adding it would also provide tax incentives for business to invest and create jobs.

Bush spoke as he began a weekend at his ranch in Crawford, Texas, and a day after the U.S. Labor Department reported that 20,000 jobs were shed in April, far fewer than the 80,000 that many economists had anticipated would be lost.

At the same time, the national unemployment rate fell to 5 percent from 5.1 percent in March. Amid the mixed economic news, fiscal jitters remained.

In his radio address, Bush tried to ease concerns about the economy, which have replaced the Iraq war as the top issue among Americans as they get ready to elect a successor to the unpopular president in November.

Bush touted the $150 billion economic stimulus package that he signed into law after it was passed with bipartisan support in the Democratic-led Congress.

"This week, the main piece of that package began being implemented, as nearly 7.7 million Americans received their tax rebates," Bush said. "Next week, the Treasury Department will begin mailing checks to millions more."

But the president blasted Democrats for failing to do more, particularly in dealing with the housing mortgage crisis and rising food and energy prices.

In the Democrats' radio response, Rep. Andre Carson of Indiana pinned much of the blame for the economic woes on what he described as Bush's misguided war without end in Iraq.

"While President Bush has invested in the battlefront, he has consistently ignored the home front," Carson said.

"If we took even a fraction of the billions of dollars we spend in Iraq and used them here at home, we could make real progress and help get our nation out of our economic slump," he said.

"Democrats have a mission: strengthen the economy, invest in America, bring our troops home. And we will not quit until that mission is truly accomplished," Carson said.

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