WASHINGTON, DC - President George W. Bush spoke before members of the Associated Builders and Contractors (ABC) at the association's National Legislative Conference and called on Congress to pass critical Association Health Plan (AHP) legislation.

Bush also expressed his support for ensuring that the repeal of the estate tax becomes permanent, for reforming Social Security, and for keeping recently passed tax relief in place.

"I understand that health care is an issue for small businesses. Most new jobs are created by small businesses, and it makes sense to have good economic policy that helps small businesses," said Bush.

"And so one of the things we've got to do is be wise about how small businesses deal with health insurance."

The president promoted the viability of firms working together, pooling their risk with similar businesses to provide affordable, quality health care for their employees. "Congress ought to allow small businesses to join together so they can buy insurance at the same discount that big businesses get to do for the same health care coverage," he said.

In addition, the president urged Congress to extend the repeal of the death tax beyond its scheduled re-enactment in 2011, and asked lawmakers to banish the tax forever, for the sake of small businesses.

"I am really honored to be here. I appreciate ABC, I appreciate your leadership, I appreciate the entrepreneurial spirit, I appreciate the fact that you are hiring people and making your communities better," said Bush.

"We are thrilled that President Bush addressed our legislative conference to discuss the issues so very important to our 23,000 firms nationwide," said ABC national chairman Gary Roden, executive vice president and chief operating officer of Aguirre Corp., Dallas.

"The president's legislative agenda addresses many of our industry's current needs, including legislation advancing AHPs, making the death tax permanent, and ensuring that recently passed tax relief stays in place."

Publication date: 06/20/2005