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Special Event

Republican Leadership Welcomes Bush's Tax Cut Proposal

Aired February 8, 2001 - 11:40 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're going to take you live, now, back up to Capitol Hill. This, a continuing of the discussion of the tax proposal. So far this morning we've heard from President Bush, from the Democrats in Congress, and now from the Republicans.

Here's Senator Majority Leader Trent Lott.

(JOINED IN PROGRESS)

SEN. TRENT LOTT (R-MS), SENATE MAJORITY LEADER: We are honored that we are having this event in the Senate, but we acknowledge right up front, Mr. Speaker, that this legislation for tax relief for all working Americans and for the families of this country will begin in the House. And we know that you and your chairman, Bill Thomas, are ready to go to work; and we are excited about this initiative.

We appreciate the secretary of the treasury, Mr. O'Neill, for being here to officially present this document to us and we want to assure the American people that tax relief is on the way. The point I want to emphasize is the -- that the average benefit of this will be $1,600 for a family of four with just one member of the family working. To the average American family, that is significant. That would pay a year's tuition at a community college; it would allow a family to pay a couple of months' rent or house notes in their home. A lot of other really good things could be done with this.

But we want to emphasize, what we're talking about is the American people being able to keep more of their money. It is their money; it's not the Washington government's money. And we believe the American people can make a better decision about how to use their money for the benefit of their families. I am particularly pleased that the focus point of this package is across-the-board tax cuts, income tax cuts, that will help the economy grow, that will create jobs.

But it has some very good provisions for the families in America: the doubling of the child tax credit, the incentive for people to be willing to take some of their savings and put them into charitable contributions. This package will help the families, the working families of America. So I'm delighted that we're going to officially receive this package this morning and I'm glad to turn the podium over to the speaker of the House, Denny Hastert.

REP. DENNIS HASTERT (R-IL), HOUSE SPEAKER: Thank you, leader Lott; and I have to say that all our work and our effort in the last few years has been really good work between the House and the Senate. The only problem is, we didn't have anybody at the other end of Pennsylvania Avenue that believed the tax cuts were the right thing for the American people.

Well, here we are. Today we've reached a great tax milestone in this country; after years of waiting, we finally have received an honest-to-goodness tax relief proposal from the White House, and to the benefit of everything -- everyone. And so we say, thank you Mr. President. And Mr. Secretary, we're glad you're here today to, certainly, to deliver this.

Tax relief is really about easing the tax burden on the lower to middle-income class families across this country. Taxes make it very difficult for hard-working families to get ahead. The average cost, I've been told, of a family of four, owns about $4,000 of credit-card debt today. If a family of four that earns $40,000 will participate in this program as we accept it -- expect that they will, that means that they can get a $1,600 -- back -- or less that they have to pay on their taxes.

They're going to use that $1,600 dollars, first of all, to spend their money instead of to put it on debt; to be able to decide how they want to spend it, instead of some bureaucrat in Washington decide how to spend it. They're going to plan for their kids' future and their kids' education. This is important; it's important for the American people; it's important for American families; and it's important for America.

We are very, very pleased to receive this tax proposal today. It's tax relief for the American people. It's a mixture of things; we will probably move these bills out of the House one bill at a time so we can talk about the policy and we can talk about the benefits -- or several bills at a time. And the House -- and the Senate, we'll work with them and they'll move it out in a bigger package. But that's how we worked in the past; it's how we continue to work.

This is -- will be a great partnership between the House and the Senate; and a great part of this partnership is finally we have a president of the other end of Pennsylvania Avenue that will sign the bill.

And at this time, it's my great pleasure to introduce to you the secretary of the treasury -- Mr. Secretary.

PAUL O'NEILL, TREASURY SECRETARY: Well, thank you, Mr. Speaker, Mr. Leader and distinguished members of the Congress. It's a great honor for me to be here today to present the president's tax proposals to the leaders in Congress who will cause it to happen.

The president believes, and has said now for some two years, that he's dedicated to the idea of giving the American people back the money that they sent in that's excess to the needs of running the government. He suggested to me, as I left the White House this morning, that speed is a useful quality in thinking about dealing with this tax proposal. And I haven't said yet to the members, but I'm prepared to wait downstairs until they're done.

So I'm very, very pleased to be here with you all today, and I'm looking forward to working with you to enact the president's program.

Thank you.

LOTT: Thank you, Mr. Secretary.

KAGAN: All right; quick comment there from the treasury secretary, Paul O'Neill and also Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott. Also heard from House Speaker Dennis Hastert.

They are there encouraging and congratulating the president for sending his tax cut proposal over to Congress. We saw that live here this morning on CNN MORNING NEWS; also heard from some critics -- from the Democrats, who don't think the cut should be as big as it's being proposed by the president.

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