(CNSNews.com) - President Bush gave a rainy Labor Day address to a crowd of workers in Richfield, Ohio, a key 2004 battleground state. The president stressed steps the administration has taken to improve the economy and promote job creation.
The nation''s unemployment rate is at a 9-year high at 6.2 percent (9.3 million Americans).
The president credited his tax cut packages for making the recession shallow, as American consumers spent and invested their tax savings.
"In Washington, we don''t spend the government''s money," Bush reminded the crowd. "We spend your money."
But Bush defended some of the ways the government has been spending that money. He touted government-backed terrorism re-insurance passed following the 9/11 attacks, which, Bush told the blue collar crowd, kept big construction projects going.
And he chastised Congress for not acting on an administration proposal to enact a national energy plan or tax-funded "re-employment accounts"-- a proposed $3.6 billion for people to spend on daycare, job retraining, or relocating to a new city for work. "That''s a useful role for the government," Bush said. "Congress needs to act."
As the administration is preparing to re-evaluate it''s controversial steel tariffs, the president also reiterated the importance of sending a message overseas that the U.S. expects a "fair playing field in trade."
The U.S. has lost thousands of jobs in manufacturing, in part because many jobs moved overseas, Bush lamented. That''s why the Commerce Department will gain a new assistant secretary to help the domestic manufacturing sector, Bush announced.
Meanwhile, a cadre of Washington-based liberal groups was staging a Labor Day protest of the president''s rally.
Ohio has lost nearly 200,000 jobs since Bush took office, according to the Fair Taxes For All Coalition.
"Working people and middle-class families delivered the message that the President needs to hear loud and clear - this Administration''s obsession with tax cuts as an economic cure-all is causing real pain for real people," charged Joan Entmacher, Vice President for Family Economic Security at the National Women''s Law Center.
Also participating in the anti-Bush rally: People For the American Way, the American Federation of State, the County & Municipal Employees union, the Leadership Conference On Civil Rights, USAction, and Campaign for America''s Future.