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Administration gears up for economic forum

Top Democrat cites 'a bunch of donors'

President Bush will host an economic forum Tuesday in Texas.
President Bush will host an economic forum Tuesday in Texas.  


WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Supporters and critics of President Bush laid out their expectations for this week's White House economic forum, a meeting a top Democrat labeled a "joke."

"Everybody knows ... that there's going to be no serious, substantive legislation being discussed down there," Democratic National Committee Chairman Terry McAuliffe said Sunday on ABC.

The problem is "there's a bunch of donors being invited to it," he said.

But one scheduled participant defended the forum, scheduled for Tuesday at Baylor University in Waco, Texas.

"I'm not going down there to cheerlead," said Tom Donohue, CEO of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. "My plan is to lay out, on behalf of the business community, the concerns that we have about what needs to be done to get the economy back on the right path."

In his weekly radio address Saturday, Bush characterized the forum as a chance to meet with "people on the front lines of the American economy."

He said among the invitees were small business owners, including two immigrants who run companies in the food industry, who will "offer opinions about how the federal government can help small businesses thrive and create more jobs."

McAuliffe said the White House response to criticism that the Waco guest list is a roll call of big Republican donors is: "Oh, but we're flying a waitress in."

"This administration just doesn't get it," McAuliffe said. "I think this is the worst economic team we've seen since Herbert Hoover's administration."

Also this week, hundreds of companies are to submit signed statements to the Securities and Exchange Commission to verify that their financial records are accurate.

Donohue predicted "some" earnings restatements by Wednesday's SEC deadline, but argued that there was a difference between corporations guilty of criminal fraud and legitimate differences in interpretation of accounting laws, which he described as "not a finite science."

"There are 17,000 public companies in the United States, and the great preponderance, the overriding preponderance of managers and workers and supervisors and union workers are honest, serious people that live by the rules."

And of those who don't, Donohue said, "Let's find them, let's prosecute them, and let's put them in jail."



 
 
 
 







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