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Special Event

George W. Bush Delivers Remarks on the Child Tax Credit

Aired September 18, 2000 - 12:19 p.m. ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

JEANNE MESERVE, CNN ANCHOR: We're going to go to Little Rock, Arkansas now. George W. Bush is speaking there about increasing the child tax credit. Let's listen to what he has to say.

(JOINED IN PROGRESS)

GOV. GEORGE W. BUSH (R-TX), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: It wasn't all that long ago that Laura and I -- didn't seem that long ago that Laura and I were new parents, and I can remember the thrill and the emotion of hugging our babies for the first time.

I want to thank your staff as well for giving me a chance to come and begin an important week in this campaign, a week that speaks to the aspirations and hopes of middle-class families all across the country.

Before I begin, I want to thank the United States senator for being here and the lieutenant governor for being here.

Thank you, guys, for taking time out of your schedules.

(APPLAUSE)

I want to thank the Holmes (ph) family for joining us today, and the Pinkerton (ph) family as well. This is a plan that I discuss, this is a plan for real people, it's a real plan. This isn't one of these things where there's a lot of fine print to it, it's a real plan to help people help themselves. These families up here are the kinds of people who I talk about.

The hopes of American families are the -- one of the cornerstones of my campaign. It's one of the goals of the campaign to help younger Americans go to college and to help younger couples begin to realize their dreams; to help people learn to save; and to help the elderly to have retirement that's dignified, to keep the promises made to our elderly in America; to help those that can't help themselves with health care.

It's part of the aspirations and dreams of America, and this pamphlet here outlines exactly what I'm talking about. It's a good go-by for people who are interested in good public policy.

One of the things you'll find in here, in the spirit of my platform, is I want to help people help themselves. I don't believe the role of government is to tell people how to run your lives. My plan is one that gives people options, not orders; it's one that trusts individuals to be responsible for the decisions they make in life.

I trust these good families up here to love their children. One of the things government can do is help them help themselves.

Today I want to talk specifically about children and families, how to help families bear the awesome responsibilities of raising their children.

The issue facing America today is many of our middle-class families work three jobs: his, hers, and the joint responsibility of raising children. And of course the toughest job in America are those families where there's only a single mom, for example, raising children, a brave woman struggling to bring her children up in a place of love and care and concern.

I strongly believe is that the tax burden on the American families makes it harder for families to realize their responsibilities, to do their duties. Incredibly enough, I want you to hear this statistics: The average family now pays more in all taxes than they do in housing, food and clothing combined. Think about the tax burden on people working hard to provide and to love their children, that the taxes, all taxes combined on the average family, is greater than food, clothing and housing, the basic necessities for middle-class life. The taxes rob family, in my judgment, high taxes rob families of time to be with each other and on time to be with their children.

Every family, by the way, faces different challenges. These two families are unique. They may face the challenge of raising for their children's education, they may have a health care challenge, they may decide that they want child care of some kind.

But one thing is in common for middle-class families: The best way to help families is to provide tax relief, is to let them have some more of their own money to provide flexibility in their lives.

And so I want to talk about what my blueprint means for working families and middle-class families in America.

First, I want to reduce the bottom rate of our tax code from 15 percent to 10 percent. Begins to address inequities, helps address inequities in the tax system.

Secondly, I want to make sure that no middle-class family pays more than a quarter of their income to the federal government. In other words, the middle-class families will pay 25 percent -- no more than 25 percent to the federal government.

Thirdly, in order to help families, we need to greatly reduce the burden of the marriage penalty on families. What kind of tax code is it...

(APPLAUSE) And fourthly, we want to increase the child credit from $500 to $1,000 per child. As I was walking through the -- saw the cribs with the youngsters there, I just was thinking about how best to -- this plan frees people by increasing the child credit, it recognizes the value of children, it says to parents we're going to give you more options with your own money.

Now, I want you all to know that when you accumulate all the reforms I just mentioned, that accounts for 60 percent of the tax relief package that I've been describing all across America. Sixty percent of the package goes to helping middle-class families help themselves.

Let me give you some of the facts.

MESERVE: Texas Gov. George W. Bush talking about his plans to help middle-income Americans today. He's announcing a proposal to double the child tax credit from $500 to $1,000.

Candy Crowley has been traveling with the Bush campaign, joins us now on the telephone.

Candy, put this in some context for us, if you would.

CANDY CROWLEY, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, the child care -- or the child tax credit, doubling it from $500 to $1,000, is something that George Bush has espoused from the beginning. What they're trying to do here is change the national dialogue.

It's been a rough three weeks for George Bush. A lot of things appeared in the paper that took him off course. They believe that by targeting middle class voters where some of the hemorrhaging from the Bush polling has been that they can lay out their plans in specific and re-attract some of those voters.

So what they're trying to do here is every day have something specifically aimed at this voting group. So you start out with a visit to the maternity ward and talking about this $1,000 a child credit. Then tomorrow he wants to talk about safety in schools, he moves on to the marriage penalty, so on throughout the week until he gets to Florida, where he's going to talk about senior health care.

So what they're trying to do, really, is just change the national conversation at this point from what Bush is doing wrong to what he's proposing. And that's what this is about.

MESERVE: Candy Crowley, thanks.

Also with us, Bill Schneider, CNN's political analyst.

Bill, talk to us a little bit about these middle class voters, why they're important and where they seem to be going at this point in the election.

WILLIAM SCHNEIDER, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: They seem to be going to Al Gore and that's because Gore is leading Bush on the issues. The election, really -- the ground of this election has shifted from personalities, where people are looking for new leadership most of this year, to issues. After the conventions they say, issues are more important, and that's where Gore has his lead.

So if Bush is going to close up this gap that Gore has raised above him, he's going to have to compete on the issues. So he's talking about details, he's talking about specifics, blueprints, plans. This is his new initiative.

MESERVE: Karen Tumulty still with us from "Time" magazine.

Karen, how does Gore deal with this new approach by Gov. Bush?

KAREN TUMULTY, "TIME" MAGAZINE: Well, already we're being swamped with messages from the Gore campaign pointing out that the way they add up the numbers, four of the six families that Bush is going to be pointing to this week would actually do better under Al Gore's plan. And, in fact, that's his problem, is that a lot of this is going to sounds like an echo of Gore, an echo of the very strategy that George W. Bush, a few weeks ago, was calling class warfare.

MESERVE: Karen Tumulty, Bill Schneider and Candy Crowley, thank you all.

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