Bush calls out Congress on economy

President calls on legislators to pass bills that will help ease the effects of the economic downturn, saying lawmakers have not done enough.

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By David Goldman, CNNMoney.com staff writer

President Bush said Congress has not done enough to help ease the pain Americans are feeling from the U.S. economic downturn.
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NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- President Bush addressed Americans' anxiety about the effects that the U.S. economic downturn has taken on their wallets Tuesday, calling on Congress to pass legislation that will help reduce energy and food costs, keep people in their homes, and make student loans more available.

Speaking at a White House Rose Garden news conference, Bush said Congress has not passed legislation that he proposed to help ease the effects of the economic slump.

"I've repeatedly submitted proposals to help address these problems, yet time after time Congress chose to block them," said Bush.

Bush said Congress failed to pass bills that expand safe oil exploration and build new refineries that would help to reduce energy prices. The president said his proposal to expand oil production at home would result in about a 20% increase of crude oil production and it would likely mean lower gas prices.

He added that the farm bill that Congress is considering is "bloated," and would do little to reduce the cost of food.

"The bill Congress is now considering would fail to eliminate subsidy payments to multimillionaire farmers," said Bush. "America's farm economy is thriving ... and this is the right time to reform our nation's farm policies."

The president also called out Congress for failing to pass his proposed legislation to help modernize the home loan industry through Freddie Mac (FRE, Fortune 500) and Fannie Mae (FNM, Fortune 500) reforms, and by allowing state housing agencies to issue tax-free bonds to refinance subprime loans.

Lastly, the president said lawmakers need to pass a bill that would temporarily give the federal government greater authority to buy federal student loans.

"This authority will safeguard student loans without permanently expanding the government's role in their financing," Bush said.

Bush said Americans are looking for politicians to come together to work on these issues in a bipartisan manner.

"I don't think it's just too much to ask even in an election year," he added.

Democrats shift blame to President: But Democratic leaders said the blame instead lies with the president.

Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., said in a press conference the president is out of touch with the pains that Americans feel from the economic downturn.

"The president doesn't understand the struggles of American families," said Schumer. "Everyone is having a tough time to make ends meet."

Schumer also said that Bush has failed to address the most important factors that continue to drag down the economy.

"The president has lost control of the economy," said Schumer. ""He has ignored repeated shots across the bow: Record oil prices, the housing crisis ... none of these things are being addressed."

Schumer also scoffed at the president's claim that Congress supports legislation that would make energy even more expensive, saying the president continues to support the tax breaks on big oil companies.

"This administration has no energy policy," added Schumer.

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif, called on the President to drop his veto threat from House legislation that would give tax credits for renewable energy.

"[The bill would] save 116,000 green jobs and create hundreds of thousands more," Pelosi said in a statement.

Bush says economy not in a recession: Though the president maintained that the economy is not in a recession, he said that does not affect the pain some Americans are feeling from the recent downturn.

"Words that define the economy don't reflect the anxiety that Americans feel," said Bush. To top of page

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