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Congress Awaits President's Address; Tax Plan to be RevealedAired February 26, 2001 - 1:10 p.m. ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
NATALIE ALLEN, CNN ANCHOR: Tomorrow night, President Bush delivers his first address to Congress on a subject he's addressed literally hundreds of times since he announced his bid for the White House. It's tax cuts and budget priorities. And CNN senior White House correspondent John King has a preview.
JOHN KING, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Every budget reflects a president's priorities and governing philosophy.
GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We need the spend more money but we need to spend it wisely. I will make the case we need to set high standards, trust governors and local folks to manage the schools.
KING: The first Bush budget is anchored on key campaign promises: a $1.6 trillion tax cut over 10 years; nearly $5 billion increase for the Department of Education; 2.8 billion more for additional federal spending on medical research; and $1 trillion in contingency funds over 10 years. The president will propose using that money to cover the cost of allowing individuals to steer some of their Social Security payroll taxes into private investment accounts.
KENNETH DUBERSTEIN, FORMER REAGAN CHIEF OF STAFF: He is launching his presidential governing campaign, in the sense of his policies and his beliefs and, oh, by the way, his personality as well. And if he shows and demonstrates that special personality, that charm, as well as tying to the policies that he's advocating, I think he can be a real knockout.
KING: The administration says the growing federal budget surplus leaves enough for some new spending, the tax cut, and still keep the government on course to wipe out its long term debt over the next decade. But it is a tough sell in an evenly divided Congress. Republicans say the Bush tax cut too big. Democrats say the president's approach risks a return to deficit spending.
SEN. JOHN KERRY (D), MASSACHUSETTS: Every American deserves a tax cut, and we want them to get it. But we want to it be of the size that we don't put at risk everything we fought for to pay down the debt, and to be fiscally responsible, and to invest in the needs of the country. KING: After presenting his budget blueprint to Congress, Mr. Bush will hit the road to sell it. This weeks stops are in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania; Council Bluffs, Iowa; Omaha, Nebraska; Little Rock, Arkansas; and Atlanta, Georgia.
PETER HART, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: There will be no Bill Clinton. There will be no -- any other distraction. It's going to be George Bush to the American public. And they will be able to see him both substantively and stylistically. So, for the president, this is a huge week.
KING: The president rehearsed his speech over the weekend at Camp David. Aids say, he recognizes the very difficult political challenge ahead. But that he's looking forward to making his case, first to the Congress, then directly to the American people -- Natalie.
ALLEN: And, John, he's taken his other issues on the road, directly to the American people, say education. What effect has this found to have on, when it comes down to the nuts and bolts of getting something passed? Former president Clinton used this as well.
KING: He certainly did. Watch where this president goes. He will direct much of his travel, we're told, in the weeks ahead, and remember, this debate will last months, not just weeks. But many moderate Republicans say from the northeast -- they have already come out and say the tax cut is too big. The president will direct his travels in places where he believes he either needs to convince wavering Republicans to come on board, or to look for supportive Democrats.
In Atlanta, you're home town, Senator Zell Miller, a Democrat, has already embraced the tax cut plan. For the president strategically targeting his political travel, hoping all the local media he generates, will put pressure on those lawmakers to support the budget plan. They also believe, given all the national political attention former Clinton has received in the past month, that going local is the best way to generate favorable headlines for the president -- Natalie.
ALLEN: We'll watch and see how the tally starts to go. John King at the White House. Thanks, John.
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