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Special Event

Bush Discusses Taxes Alongside Families He Says Cuts Would Help

Aired February 7, 2001 - 9:35 a.m. ET

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

DARYN KAGAN, CNN ANCHOR: We are standing by, along with a number of families at the White House, waiting for President Bush to come out.

This is one of his events pushing his tax cut plan, Mr. Bush bringing together families that he met along the campaign trail, as he talked about tax cuts -- invited them to the White House now.

Mr. Bush calling these families together -- these are supposedly middle-class families: this to answer his critics that his tax cut would only go ahead and benefit the wealthy. So he's brought together these middle-class families to talk about how it would go ahead and benefit these people.

It sounds like they have gone ahead and introduced the president.

(JOINED IN PROGRESS)

DEBORA MISKOWSKUS (ph): Good morning, my name is Debora Miskowskus, and I'm delighted to be here today with my children, Brigit (ph) and Mark (ph).

As a single mom raising two teenagers, there's not a day that goes that I don't worry about how to make ends meet, put my kids through college, and also have something left over for my own retirement. It is tough -- really tough -- so I want to say I am very grateful to you, President Bush.

Last fall, when you came to our hometown of Arlington Heights, Illinois, you promised to push for tax cuts to help moms like me. And sure enough, you're really doing it. I can't thank you enough. My children and I really need this tax cut, and we need it now.

I've done the math, and under your plan, I'll save $1,000 in taxes. And let me tell you, $1,000 is a whole lot of money in the Miskowskus household.

I think Americans will be as excited about this plan as I am. I work hard for my money, and I'm grateful for the chance to keep more of it to provide a better future for my children, Brigit and Mark.

Ladies and gentlemen, it is my honor and privilege to introduce to you the president of the United States. GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Thank you. Well, Debora, thank you very much. I'm so honored to see you and thank you for bringing your son and daughter here.

The vice president and I have been looking forward to this family reunion, tax family reunion. The nice thing about this reunion is you don't have any annoying relatives to deal with.

(LAUGHTER)

But we're glad to welcome you to the White House. One of the best parts of the campaign was to meet the hard-working Americans who really make up the backbone of our country. I'd go to the different cities around our great nation and get off the airplane, and there'd be a tax family. And it was our way to put a face on a piece of important public policy. It was our way to say, behind all the numbers we were talking about and the talk about budget, there are real live Americans who will benefit.

And I want to thank you all for coming back. I look forward to thanking you in person. I look forward for you to see the people's house, the place that Laura and I are now fortunate enough to call home.

I have one message for all the folks who are our tax families and all the folks from across the country: You helped me make my case and now I intend to make good on my promise.

I want it to be said that ours is a plan that fulfills a campaign promise, and that's important. A lot of people look toward the political process and say, "Oh, these candidates just say something and really don't mean it." Well, when I campaigned for meaningful tax relief, I meant it. And tomorrow, I'll submit a plan based upon that, which is exactly what I said on the campaign trail. I look forward to working with Congress to get the plan passed.

During the course of the campaign, I said it's as if our nation had erected a toll booth right in the middle of the road to the middle class, making it hard for people to access the middle class, making it hard for hard-working Americans to realize more money for their own. And so, we're going to start dismantling that toll booth, brick by brick. It begins by simplifying the code. We'll reduce the rates from five to four.

It recognizes that our tax code is unfair. It is unfair to people who struggled to get ahead. It is unfair for the single mom, who lives on the outskirts of poverty, who's working hard to provide for her family. For every additional dollar she makes above $25,000, she pays a higher marginal rate on that dollar than someone who's wealthy. And that's not right and it's not fair. It's not what America is all about, as far as I'm concerned. Our tax code makes the code more fair.

It is also fair that everybody who pays taxes should receive relief, and that's why we drop all rates. We drop the top rate and we drop the bottom rate, and we expand the child credit from $500 to $1,000. Under our plan, a family of four making $50,000 a year will receive a 50 percent cut in the taxes they pay to the government. The average tax load will decrease by $2,000, from $4,000 to $2,000.

As Debora said, she calculated our plan and she saves $1,000. Maybe for some, the number $1,000 doesn't mean much, maybe for some $2,000 doesn't mean much, but for thousands of Americans, it means a lot.

I want to assure my friends, the tax families who are here, that we will submit a budget, as expected, to the United States Congress, a budget that sets aside all the payroll taxes for Social Security, a budget that sets clear priorities, a budget that pays down the national debt, and a budget that has got room for meaningful, substantial tax reduction.

And there's a lot of talk about debt in this town. And there should be talk about national debt, and our plan pays down debt.

But I also want the members of Congress to understand that there are a lot of folks struggling to get ahead who have got high consumer debt. There's a lot of people who are burdened by credit card debt in America. And when you couple that debt overhang with high energy prices, more and more of the backbone of this country struggle to save and struggle to get ahead.

So this tax relief package not only is a way to make sure our economy remains strong, it's a package that understands people need to have more of their own money. It says that with strict budgeting and prioritizing our budget that when we have surpluses we must remember who pays the bills in America. And it's these folks who pay the bills in this country, and they deserve relief.

And so I call upon Congress, when they think about tax relief, to think about the members of our tax family, who represent all the people of our country who work hard to get into the middle class and to stay in the middle class.

It's an honor to be your president. I'm so thrilled you all are here to say hello to us. I can't wait to greet you inside.

Thanks for coming, and God bless you all.

(APPLAUSE)

QUESTION: Are the tax cuts the right size?

BUSH: I believe it's the right size. And I think it's going to be a very important for us and the members of Congress to work together. But I'm going to make my case that the size of the tax relief package I propose is right.

QUESTION: (OFF-MIKE)

BUSH: I think for those who want to diminish the size of the tax cut, that would be inadvisable. And for those who want to increase the size of the tax cut, it would be inadvisable. It's the right size.

QUESTION: Could you tell us how it is, sir, that your chief of staff didn't know what your plans were for the Office of National AIDS Policy, and the president's initiative for One America?

BUSH: Oh, we're going to have a -- we're considered about AIDS inside our White House, make no mistake about it. And ours is an administration that will fight for fair, just law in the country.

Last question.

QUESTION: (OFF-MIKE)

BUSH: We're going to play the hand we've been dealt. And we're going to play it well, with one thing in mind, that we promote peace in the Middle East. And I've talked to leaders in the Middle East, urging calm, and so has the secretary of state.

And I just got off the phone with Prime Minister Barak and told him he fought the valiant fight. And he assured me he would support the government's attempts to bring calm in the region.

And we will continue to reach out to the parties in that region to promote an environment of stability and calm, to give the Sharon government a chance to do what he said he was going to do, which was to try to form a unity government and reach out to the parties to promote peace in the region.

STAFF: Thank you all.

KAGAN: Quick comment from President Bush there about a Mid East peace, in reference to yesterday's election in Israel, where Ehud Barak, the prime minister, was soundly defeated by Ariel Sharon.

Here's the president once again -- oh, it's a -- it's just a picture opportunity. We can talk over those pictures and let them snap away.

And the main purpose of this event -- as you see, the president surrounded by a number of families. He's calling this a tax family reunion. These are families he met around the campaign trail, President Bush wanting to make good on the promise, as he said, to simplify the tax code.

He called the tax code unfair, and he focused on people like single mothers and families of four making about $50,000. Those are the people, he -- he is saying today that he wants to relieve their tax burden. Of course, critics of Mr. Bush's significant tax cut saying that his tax plan does favor the rich.

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