With the dollar plummeting and American trade and budget deficits both at record levels, you would think the president's economic conference might be a somber affair populated by men and women in dark suits. But shortly after Bush's much-publicized conference opened on Wednesday, it was clear that the economists and businessmen in attendance didn't think there was much about the economy -- or the president's economic plan -- that could stand improving.
The overall impression was "an economy with blue skies, happy workers and prosperity for all, just around the corner," the AP's Tom Raum writes. "Moderators and participants alike sang praises to [Bush's] first-term accomplishments and second-term agenda. His proposals -- many still being formulated -- were hailed as the remedy for what still needs to be fixed."
Raum, who seems to have a sarcastic streak, was kind enough to give those of us who weren't invited samples of the dialogue:
"Vice President Dick Cheney: 'If we stay on that path, the years ahead will bring even greater progress and prosperity.'
"Larry Mocha, a Tulsa, Okla., manufacturer of truck air brake systems: 'I want to thank the administration for all the positive things you've done for our economy. ... It hasn't always been this good.'
"Treasury Secretary John Snow: 'We are the envy of the world.'
"Harvard economics professor Martin Feldstein: 'I'm pleased to say the economy is now in very good shape.'
"'It's not exactly 'Crossfire,' joked American University political scientist Alan J. Lichtman."