THE PRESIDENT: Good morning. Next week, in Iowa, I will proudly sign the Working Families Tax Relief Act. This bipartisan law is good news for America's families. It keeps in place major portions of the tax relief we passed over the last three years. It preserves marriage penalty relief, the thousand dollar child tax credit, and the expanded 10-percent tax bracket. The law also increases the refund limit on the child tax credit, which means about 7 million low-income families will get higher refund checks next year.
Because we acted, 94 million Americans will have a lower tax bill again next year, including 70 million women and 38 million families with children. I met many families that are benefiting from tax relief, including Gary and Angela Brown, from Springfield, Missouri. Gary works at a manufacturing company, and Angela stays at home with their four children. Last year, the Browns saved about $3,000 on their taxes. They used some of that money to put a down payment on braces for their daughter. If Congress had not extended tax relief, the Brown's tax bill would have gone up $1,500 next year. Now, because we acted, they will be able to keep and use that money. The tax relief has helped millions of families, like the Browns, to spend, save, and invest for the future. Thanks to their hard work, America's economy is strong and getting stronger.
This week brought more evidence that tax relief is helping our entire economy move forward. The economy grew at an annual rate of 3.3 percent in the second quarter. America's economy has been growing at rates as fast as any in nearly 20 years. And for 12 consecutive months, our economy has been creating jobs. We've added 1.7 million jobs since August, 2003, including 107,000 manufacturing jobs since January.
The unemployment rate is now 5.4 percent, down almost a full point since June, 2003, and below the average rate of the 1970s, 1980s, and 1990s. The home ownership rate is at an all-time high, and new home sales are still rising. After-tax income is increasing, which means workers are keeping more of their paychecks. The tax relief we passed is working.
Having extended tax relief, we must take additional action to strengthen our economy so every American who wants to work can find a job. To create more jobs, we need to reduce the burden of regulation on small businesses. We need to end the junk lawsuits that keep entrepreneurs from creating new jobs. Congress needs to pass my energy plan to make America less dependent on foreign sources of oil. We need to open more foreign markets to American products and ensure that other countries play by the rules. We must continue to spend taxpayer dollars wisely in Washington, D.C. And to help families and small businesses plan with confidence, we need to make all of the tax relief permanent.
Some politicians in Washington have a different view of tax relief. When I proposed tax relief for working families in 2001 and 2003, Senator Kerry and other Democratic leaders voted against it. In fact, Senator Kerry has voted consistently against marriage penalty relief, against increasing the child tax credit, and against expanding the 10-percent bracket. Now, Senator Kerry and the Democrat leaders are proposing a lot of new federal spending, and the only way to pay for all their promises is to raise taxes on working families.
You know where I stand. Higher taxes are the wrong policy for this growing economy. Our families and our country are better off when government lets people keep more of what they earn. And that is why I'll work with Congress to keep taxes low, and that is why I will proudly sign the Working Families Tax Relief Act of 2004 into law.
Thank you for listening.