BUSH AT NU-AIR - Mitch Perry02/16/04
INTRO: President Bush ended his 18 hour stay in Tampa earlier this morning, after conducting a "conversation" on the economy with workers and business owners at an Aluminum window and door Manufacturing Plant in Town N Country.
Although the trip was NOT billed as an election year campaign stop, and thus WAS paid for by the American people, the President's visit to a Florida business - his 19th stop in the Sunshine state since becoming President - appeared as a virtually cheerleading session on how his Tax Cuts have led to the economic success for some individuals and businesses enacted during his administration.
The President toured and spoke at Nu-Air Manufacturing in front of a crowd estimated to be between 600 and a thousand people. The President did not give a formal speech about the economy, but instead shared a stage with 5 other people, including the president of Nu-Air, Connie Horner.(roll tape#1 o.q. applause")
Nu Air IS a success story in 2004....It did about $25 million dollars in sales last year, has added 60 new workers to its force, and is considering expanding to keep up with demand from the housing boom, which has continued to grow in sometimes stagnating economy.
In addition to Horner and 2 Nu-Air employees, the stage was also studded with local small business owners....Each person's story - added to the President's usual stump speech about the economy.....
Although many positive economic indicators have inproved in the past year, job growth has not been among them.........Since President Bush took office just over 3 years ago, there have been over 2 million jobs lost - including 19,000 in Florida alone last year.
The President peppered his speech frequently with praise for small business owners...He talked about the importance of Community colleges in helping train workers gain skills, and he spoke about his recently outlined proposal to grant legal status to illegal immigrants under certain conditions (roll tape#2 o.q."willing workers") That proposal has infuriated some Republicans, who consider the plan an amnesty for undocumented workers.....Others say it's a cynical ploy of enlisting Latino support in the fall election.
The tax bills that President Bush signed in 2001 and 2003 contain expiration dates next year on some provisions. The child tax credit would drop from $1,000 per child to $700, and some married couples would have to pay more than they would as two single individuals.
The thrust of Bush's presentation was to pressure Congress to make those Tax Cuts permanent. (roll tape#3 o.q."American people")
The Democratic front runner to run against against Bush later this year, John Kerry - has said he would halt tax reductions for Americans who earn more than $200,000...
But Kerry - as recently as last night during a televised debate - has said he favors making permanent the child tax credit, and permanently ending the so-called "marriage Penalty".
The President did confess that the almost choreographed nature of the so-called "conversation" on the economy at Nu-Air appeared a bit staged (roll tape#4 o.q."that encourage growth")
But not all is well for American businesses, even on Anderson Road....Just around the block from Nu Air is Tropical Sportswear, which announced earlier this month it is shutting down its manufacturing facility and moving its work to the Dominican Republic and Honduras. The company did not say how many jobs it will ship offshore, but industry experts said the move could result in hundreds of garment manufacturing jobs leaving Tampa. In recent filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission, Tropical Sportswear said it employs about 800 people in Tampa.