Bush: Economy 'not as robust' as he wants

President says job loss is a sign that the economy is not as robust as it could be.

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By Ben Rooney, CNNMoney.com staff writer

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NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- President Bush, responding to recent economic reports, said on Friday that "the economy is not as robust as any of us would like it."

The U.S. Labor Department reported earlier in the day that the April unemployment rate dipped to 5% from 5.1% and that employers trimmed jobs for the fourth straight month. The 20,000 net reduction in jobs was less than economists had forecast.

Bush, speaking in St. Louis, also said that Wednesday's report on gross domestic product - showing that the U.S. economy expanded at sluggish 0.6% growth rate in the first quarter - was "not good enough for America."

The President outlined his stance on a number of economic policy issues in a speech to employees of Worldwide Technologies, which he said is an example of how the "entrepreneurial spirit is alive and well in America."

The President said small businesses create 75% of the nation's jobs and argued that it is necessary to "put policies in place that encourage growth with the job creators."

Bush said he is confident that the government's stimulus plan will help the economy recover but conceded that it "hasn't really kicked in yet." He said the plan would "stimulate consumption" and "help people deal with high energy prices."

Energy policy. The president criticized energy policies that prevent oil companies from drilling in certain parts of the country.

"An energy policy that prevents us from drilling for oil in our own land is one that promotes high gas prices," Bush said.

Bush argued that Congress should "recognize that we can drill for oil and gas in environmentally friendly ways." He also urged lawmakers to encourage the construction of additional domestic oil refineries.

Housing policy. In reference to the housing market, Bush said: "the key is for the market to adjust. We've built too many houses, we have to work though this system."

Bush supported the idea of helping "credit worthy people stay in their homes" and touted the Hope Now Alliance, which he said "enables people to go and renegotiate loans."

The President criticized a proposal that Congress is considering that would give funding to state and local governments to buy foreclosed homes for redevelopment. He argued that this plan does not help the homeowner. Instead, Bush said Congress should, "focus on the person that actually owns the home."

Bush said he is concerned about homeowners with variable rate loans that are due to reset at much higher interest rates soon. He said "fraudulent tactics" may have been used in some cases and that "we don't want people being cheated in America."

Lastly, the President expressed support for reforming government-backed lenders like Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. To top of page

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