KALAMAZOO In an appearance at Western Michigan University yesterday, President Bush attempted to enlist Michigan residents to help him drum up support for his tax cut and budget plan.

Paul Wong
President Bush gestures to supporters during a speech at Western Michigan University in Kalamazoo yesterday laying out his economic agenda.<br><br>JEFF HURVITZ/Daily

“This is an issue of trust as far as I”m concerned and I trust the people,” Bush said.

The president spoke for about half an hour urging an audience of about 1,000 to contact Michigan”s two Democratic senators, Carl Levin and Debbie Stabenow, and ask them to support his $1.6 trillion tax cut plan. Both have expressed disapproval.

The tax plan has been approved by the House of Representatives but faces an uncertain fate in the Senate, where there is an even split between parties.

“We have made progress. But there”s a lot of work to be done. And I”m here to ask for your help. If you like what you hear, you”re only an e-mail away from letting two senators know what you think,” he said.

Bush, facing criticism that he has been “talking down” the economy in an attempt to draw up support for his tax cut, said there are clear indications of an economic slowdown but also expressed optimism that the economy will improve. “Some regions of America and some industries are doing better, but the trend is clear, and the need for action is urgent,” he said.

For that reason Bush said the tax cuts he proposed should not only continue in the future but also be made retroactive to the beginning of the year.

“Immediate tax relief is good news. But tax relief that gets yanked away next year is not good news,” he said.

Lt. Gov. Dick Posthumus said Michigan was a fitting place for Bush to talk about his tax cut plan.

“Ten years ago we were one of the highest-taxed states in the country. Today, because of 31 tax cuts now we are creating jobs at a more rapid clip than almost any state in America and so he knows that Michiganians understand that and I think that”s why he came here,” he said.

Bush also emphasized his belief in an education system that is results-oriented. “We must hold schools accountable and give parents better options if our schools fail to teach,” he said.

Touching on the power crisis in California, the president said he plans to develop a national energy policy based on maximizing supply and increasing conservation.

But a system of price controls, which is employed in California, he said, is not acceptable.

“Price controls do not increase supply, and they do not encourage conservation,” he said, adding “Price controls contributed to the gas lines of the 1970s.”

Reactions among the largely Republican audience were overwhelmingly favorable.

“I think it”s time for us to have a tax cut and I think Congress has got a job ahead of them ironing out the details but I think he is on the right track,” sad Jan Jones, a self-employed math teacher.

“It”s the people”s money. It”s really important to me that, if it is the people”s money that it get back to us and we can spend it the way we want,” said Kalamazoo sales engineer Dave Shugars, the younger brother of state Sen. Dale Shugars (R-Portage).

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