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Transition of Power: George W. Bush Takes Victory Lap in Washington, Meets With Congressional Leaders, Fed Chairman Greenspan

Aired December 18, 2000 - 2:02 p.m. ET

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

KYRA PHILLIPS, CNN ANCHOR: Before we focus on the Electoral College, let's look at the man who's expected to win it. George W. Bush took a victory lap in Washington today.

CNN congressional correspondent Chris Black is on Capitol Hill.

Hi, Chris.

CHRIS BLACK, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Hello, Kyra.

President-elect George W. Bush came to Capitol Hill today to begin to make good on one of his campaign promises: to bring a new bipartisan tone to Washington. So for two and a half hours this morning, he met with all of the congressional leaders, and congressional leaders from both parties.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GOV. GEORGE W. BUSH (R-TX), PRESIDENT ELECT: I made it clear to each that I come to Washington with the intention of doing the people's business, that I look forward to listening, and occasionally talking, to work with both the Republicans and the Democrats.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLACK: Gov. Bush said he believed that he was the president- elect because of the issues that he ran on, including that $1.3 trillion tax cut. Well, Democrats on Capitol Hill say that's a non- starter. But today was a day when leaders from both parties put aside the knives and talked about doing the people's business.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. TOM DASCHLE (D-SD), MINORITY LEADER: The only real choice for us is to recognize that bipartisanship isn't an option, it's a requirement. And as we go forward, it is my sincere desire to work with our Republican colleagues in the Congress, to work with the president-elect to accomplish as much as the American people expect of us. We can do no less.

SEN. TRENT LOTT (R-MS), MAJORITY LEADER: This is a time for a new beginning, a new atmosphere, a new tone. I believe we have a leader in George W. Bush that will provide direction toward a more cooperative atmosphere.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLACK: Gov. Bush met with the Republican leadership teams from both the House and the Senate, and participants in those meetings say that they talked at length about tax cuts and energy policy, two things they say they need to address in order to keep the economy going.

As for the Democrats, Tom Daschle in the Senate, Dick Gephardt in the House, said that they promised to go halfway, sometimes even more so, with the new president, but they expected him to embrace some items from the Democratic agenda; particularly things that have gotten a lot of bipartisan support in the past, like a minimum wage increase, HMO reform and campaign finance reform -- Kyra.

PHILLIPS: Chris, Bush also met with Greenspan today, correct?

BLACK: Yes he did.

PHILLIPS: Do we know what came out of that meeting? And is that a good sign, especially with the economy slowing down a bit?

BLACK: Well, it's a wise sign, Kyra, to speak to the chairman of the Federal Reserve Bank. Alan Greenspan is a key person in terms of the nation's economy. He worked very closely with Bill Clinton even though Alan Greenspan is a Republican. In fact, Clinton renominated him to that post.

The governor said, Gov. Bush said, that they talked a little bit about energy policy as well as tax cuts, but he didn't want to get into too much detail about Greenspan's opinion. He said we'd have to ask him.

PHILLIPS: Chris Black, thank you very much -- Stephen.

STEPHEN FRAZIER, CNN ANCHOR: Kyra, more now on that whole breakfast with Alan Greenspan from CNNfn's Lisa Leiter. More on the new president and the economy.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

LISA LEITER, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): President-elect Bush began his day with a power breakfast with Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan.

BUSH: I talked with a good man right here, and we had a very strong discussion about my confidence in his abilities.

LEITER: Bush is trying to gauge support for his across-the-board $1.3 trillion tax cut. The Fed chief in the past has favored using the budget surplus for debt reduction rather than for tax cuts.

GREG VALLIERE, SCHWAB WASHINGTON RESEARCH: I think that Greenspan has made it clear that while he's not superenthused about a big tax cut, he'd prefer tax cuts to new spending. LEITER: Many economists worry that such a big tax cut would give the economy too much of a boost and trigger inflation. But now the economy has showed signs of a dramatic slowdown, which could bolster the case for tax cuts.

DICK CHENEY, VICE PRESIDENT-ELECT: We could have a hard landing, and that some kind of tax change would be appropriate as part of your recovery strategy.

LEITER: The slowdown in the economy will be addressed tomorrow by Federal Reserve policymakers meeting on interest rates. Most economists believe they will leave key rates unchanged. Still, some argue the economy has cooled down so much that the Fed needs to cut interest rates immediately.

SEN. BYRON DORGAN (D), NORTH DAKOTA: The economy is slowing, slowing much more rapidly than was anticipated, and I think the Fed flirts with a recession if it does not recognize that now and begin reducing interest rates now.

LEITER (on camera): What central bankers say tomorrow will be just as important as what they do. Most economists expect them to adopt a neutral stance on interest rates. And if the economy keeps slowing, they expect the Fed to cut rates early next year.

Lisa Leiter, CNN Financial News, Washington.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

FRAZIER: As you heard in Lisa's report, the Federal Reserve's actual comment on interest rates comes about this time tomorrow. The announcement actually at 2:15 Eastern, and we'll have it here on CNN TODAY.

TO ORDER A VIDEO OF THIS TRANSCRIPT, PLEASE CALL 800-CNN-NEWS OR USE OUR SECURE ONLINE ORDER FORM LOCATED AT www.fdch.com

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