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Special Event

House Leaders Back Bush Tax Cut Plan on Steps of Capitol Hill

Aired February 7, 2001 - 10:14 a.m. ET

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

LEON HARRIS, CNN ANCHOR: We want to take you back now to Washington. As we said, we have been keeping our eye on this event being staged on the Capitol steps with the House speaker, Dennis Hastert, there. He is joined by little Jasmine (ph). He is describing how this tax cut plan being proposed by Mr. Bush is going to help her families and others like it.

(JOINED IN PROGRESS)

REP. DENNIS HASTERT (R-IL), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: And her husband's a cook. And an extra $1,600 per year would help them keep more of the costs of their two growing kids -- and we have a couple of them right here, with a flag -- expenses such as new clothes, school supplies, braces and all those things that families have to deal with.

So you want to know how, how are we going to do this? How will President Bush return $1,600 to the average American family?

Well, he will do it by infusing the tax code with a good dose of common sense, by doing with unfair taxes that make it hard for folks to get ahead. First of all, he's going to reduce the percentage of taxes taken out of every single paycheck. That's called across-the- board reduction.

He's also going to end the marriage penalty. The marriage penalty is when two working families -- or two working people get married and their taxes -- they pay $1,400 more than the average wage earner in taxes than if their single. It doesn't make sense. It's not fair, and we're going to change that.

And you know, we're going to do away with the death tax. That's something that's important, as well.

And not only for people who work and people who start a small business or family farm, but people who work for small businesses, so when that business is passed on from generation to generation, that family doesn't have to sell that business and people lose their jobs.

And you know what? He's going to double the child tax credit from $500 to $1,000. That puts in about $1,600 on an average family of four who earn $40,000 and pay about a $4,000 tax. So you're taking almost half of their tax burden away.

That makes good common sense. It's based on good, solid principles. And it puts money in their pocket so that they can decide how they're going to take care of their children and their future and their families.

(APPLAUSE)

REP. J.C. WATTS (R), OKLAHOMA: The majority leader of the House, Dick Armey.

REP. DICK ARMEY (R), TEXAS: Thank you.

Well, ladies and gentlemen, current budget projections are over $5 trillion in tax surplus for the next 10 years. And we're looking at that, and we're saying, "What should we do with that?"

There are a lot of voices in this town that's saying, "Leave it here." They've got a lot of risky spending schemes. They think they know how to spend that $5 trillion on behalf of all these good folks here. And we might leave it here. But could we trust them to spend it wisely? History says probably not.

The better choice is to take that tax surplus paid in by these hard-working men and women in this country and just give it back. Trust them to spend it wisely. Who knows best what we need for our children, for our family, for our parents, for our friends? What may be is the best thing we might do to help the people in our community, like our churches, and the other facilities that help other people? Who can best judge that?

It is our position that we are the best judge -- you and me, Mr. and Mrs. Working America. And we're smart enough to earn it, leave it in our hands. We'll demonstrate that we're smart enough to spend it and spend it wisely. Maybe some new school books for the kids. Maybe a new bike. Maybe we can get them on the Internet. There's so many things we can do.

But we will know better. And I should say, it's our money. It belongs to you and me. It doesn't belong to Washington. If we went to the local hardware store and we were overcharged, we'd ask for a refund. And they would cheerfully give it.

We have millions of taxpayers from all over America who turn their minds and their hearts to Washington and they said, "We want a refund. Give us our money back. You don't need it in Washington. We need it at home." We're going to honor that, and the House of Representatives will move that tax bill, and we'll move it quickly. And I hope you all will have a good time when you get your money back. Thank you.

HARRIS: House Majority Leader Dick Armey there with other House leadership members there, along with a number of families there on the Capitol steps, families they're calling the average American families.

We just heard also this morning House Speaker Dennis Hastert making the case for support of President Bush's tax-cut plan, saying that it would help the average American family, like was represented there on the steps, saying that it would do so by reducing the percentage of tax withholdings, reducing the marriage penalty, getting rid of the death tax, and doubling child tax credits. All of that would mean $1,600 more for an average family making $40,000 a year.

And they're saying all of this to counter charges being made by Democrats that Mr. Bush's tax-cut plan is mainly going to benefit the very wealthy.

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