Washington, DC — January 29, 2003 — “Food retailers and wholesalers applaud President Bush for reasserting the urgent need to stimulate the economy with the most powerful twin engines of growth: business investment and consumer spending,” Food Marketing Institute (FMI) President and CEO Tim Hammonds said today, commenting on last night’s state-of-the-union address.

“The case for this stimulus plan could not be more compelling.” said Hammonds. “Give immediate and substantial income tax cuts to 100 million small businesses and American families. Triple the amount that companies can expense to $75,000. Bolster public stock values by eliminating the tax on dividends.

“To suggest we cannot afford these tax reforms because of federal deficits or the prospect of war is simply wrong. These are exactly the reasons we need them. Tax relief will create jobs and increase consumer spending. And increased stock values will stimulate public company investments in job-generating growth — measures that will also increase tax revenues and strengthen the economy.”

Hammonds also praised President Bush’s call for medial liability reform, especially curbs on frivolous malpractice suits. “This is just what the doctor ordered — and what patients and employers desperately need. The double-digit growth in medical and insurance costs is crippling health care. Physicians are leaving states with prohibitive insurance costs, depriving patients of medical care for serious illnesses.

“Employers face the grim choices of increasing premiums, co-pays and deductibles for their workers. And many small businesses are forced to contemplate eliminating health coverage altogether.”

“We urge Congress to approve the economic stimulus package as soon as possible to infuse billions of dollars into our weak economy. We also call for quick action on a broad range of health care reforms, beginning with sound controls on medical liability.”