Bush urges confidence in economy
This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, May 2, 2008: President George W. Bush told high-tech workers at World Wide Technology in Maryland Heights on Friday that rebate checks will help counter slow economic growth and that he remained confident that the “economy is going to come on.”
Bush spoke to a receptive audience that interrupted him with applause several times during a session that included a discussion of gasoline prices, the mortgage crisis, slow economic growth and access to health insurance.
The president then responded to several questioners. The first one asked about Bush’s biggest challenge. The president drew long applause when he responded, “My job is to do everything I can to rally forces to protect you.”
He said he never expected his major challenge to involve war, but he said, “Sometimes you are dealt a hand you didn’t expect.” He added that “getting rid of Saddam Hussein was the right thing to do.”
President George Bush participates in a video conference while touring the facility warehouse of World Wide Technology Inc. in Maryland Heights Friday morning.
Credit John L. White | Post-Dispatch (pool) | St. Louis Beacon archives
Bush criticized those who argue that civil liberties are being compromised in the government’s war on terrorism. Bush cited lawsuits growing out of government efforts to monitor certain telephone conversations, saying the monitoring helps the government keep track of those who “want to kill people.”
“If you want me to do my job,” he said, “you better make sure Congress gives us the tools to do it.”
Aside from addressing issues involving terrorism and the economy, the president spoke briefly about hunger in America and the world. He said Congress needed to spend more on the WIC program, which provides special foods for pregnant women and children. He also said Congress needs to boost aid to help developing nations and have better policies to encourage this country to buy products from African farmers.
Bush didn't mention that U.S. subsidies to American farmers were one reason few African agricultural products end up on American tables. The subsidies help American farmers undercut the cost of buying food from Third World countries.
On the issue of energy, the president repeated his views about more exploration for oil in this country. He said Americans were paying the price at the pump because Congress has refused to allow more oil exploration in Alaska.
Bush came to Maryland Heights to laud the success of World Wide Technology, and its owner, David Steward. Before he spoke to the large group of employees, he met with a smaller group, consisting of World Wide chairman David Steward and chief executive James Cavanaugh and about 20 other employees.
Real-time videos of World Wide employees at other sites were shown. The president was particularly thrilled that one of the workers on the screen was from Dallas. "Tell the guy from Dallas, 'I'm coming home.'" Bush said, touching off chuckles.
On a laptop in front of Bush, Kavanaugh showed the president how to type in comments, or read them, from the various employees. The comments and responses showed up on the big screen.
One worker had written, "Thanks for the rebate check."
World Wide Technology is a value-added reseller of technology products in partnership with major high-tech companies, such as Dell computer, Cisco Systems and Sun. The company also manages technology sectors for many governments, including the state of Missouri.
With annual revenue exceeding $2 billion, the company has consistently ranked as the nation's top-grossing black-owned business. Steward and the president are good friends. The president wrote the forward for Steward's book, "Doing Business by the Good Book: Fifty-two Lessons on Success," published in 2004.
The article includes information from Jo Mannies of the Post-Dispatch, who provided reports for journalists who had more limited access.