President Bush on Thursday said he is concerned about the slowdown in the U.S. economy, but he maintained the country is not in a recession.
"I'm concerned about the economy because I'm concerned about working Americans," he said during a White House news conference. "There's no question the economy has slowed down. I don't think we're headed into a recession."
Bush said his administration acted quickly to stimulate the economy with a pro-growth package that will have refund checks going out to consumers in May. The plan sends rebates ranging from $300 to $1,200 to millions of people and gives tax incentives to businesses.
"We'll see the effects of this pro-growth package," Bush said.
The president also urged Congress to pass a law that makes it easier for the government to eavesdrop on terrorism suspects. He said the government must have the ability to quickly and effectively monitor the telephone conversations and e-mails of terror suspects.
The president said Congress should protect telecommunications companies from lawsuits when they cooperate with the government efforts. He said Congress should give companies legal immunity for helping the government eavesdrop after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.
"Without the cooperation of the private sector we cannot protect our country from terrorist attacks," Bush said.
The president wants Congress to renew a temporary law that expired earlier this month. The House and Senate have passed different versions of the measure, which would continue authorization of a program that lets the government listen in on the phone calls of suspected terrorists and view their e-mails.
Bush wants the House to adopt the version passed by the Senate. That bill gives retroactive immunity from lawsuits to telecommunications companies that provided information to the government after the Sept. 11 attacks.
The president also said Congress should act on fully funding the war in Iraq, where he said his troop surge has paid off with decreased deaths among U.S. soldiers and Marines and Iraqi civilians. He said the diminished violence has encouraged stability and enabled the Iraqi government to engage in reconciliation efforts.
"What they need to do is to stand by our fine men and women in uniform and stand by our troops," he said.