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NEW YORK _ President Bush announced the creation of a federal task force Tuesday to investigate corporate wrongdoing and urged longer jail sentences for corrupt executives as part of a broad plan to curb business scandals and rebuild confidence in the U.S. economy.
Speaking to about 1,000 executives and public officials in the heart of Wall Street, Bush charged that corporate America has failed to adequately police itself, and he called for a $120 million increase in funding for the Securities and Exchange Commission to expand the government's presence in corporate boardrooms.
"Self-regulation is important, but it's not enough," said Bush, normally a champion of limited government and an unabashed ally of big business.
"The lure of heady profits in the late 1990s spawned abuses and excesses," Bush added. "With strict enforcement and higher ethical standards we must usher in a new era of integrity in corporate America."
Even as he condemned the financial misdeeds of what he said was a small minority of companies, the president emphasized the general good health of American businesses and the growing strength of the U.S. economy. One of the White House's greatest fears is that a loss of public confidence in corporations and Wall Street could send the economy into a nosedive.
"The American …