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CNN Today

Bush To Unveil $1.6 trillion Tax Cut Plan

Aired February 27, 2001 - 2:08 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: President Bush, as you know, says a tax cut is just what the country needs to get the economy going again. He will be selling that idea to Congress and the rest of America in his speech tonight.

In a just-released CNN/"USA Today"/Gallup Poll finds 79 percent of Republicans back his plan. Only 27 percent of Democrats do, while 58 percent of them oppose it. Nearly half of independents say it sounds good.

But the poll also found most people don't think the budget surplus should be used mainly for tax relief. Education reform, which Mr. Bush also pushes, tops their list. Overall, nearly two-thirds of Americans think the president is doing a good job after only a month in office.

So what kind of reception can he expect on Capitol Hill?

Our congressional correspondent Kate Snow joins us with that part -- Kate.

KATE SNOW, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hello, Natalie.

Congress bracing for a big show tonight, looking forward to that if you are on the Republican side of the aisle. Republicans will be getting a preview of this speech in just a short while.

In this hour, they are going to be meeting -- Republican leaders from the House and the Senate are going to be over at the White House, meeting with President Bush, talking to him about what his plans are for tonight, about his budget, and about how they can quickly pass through his $1.6 trillion tax cut proposal.

President Bush expected to speak tonight for about 40 minutes. And here's what we expect. We think that the president will emphasize several key things. We think he's going to talk about the projected surplus of $5.6 trillion. He's going to talk about more money needed to spend on education. He will also attempt to refute Democrats by saying that there will be plenty of money left over to pay down the national debt, even if Congress passes his $1.6 trillion tax cut.

Now Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott, a Republican, spoke a few moment ago. He says that he is enthusiastic about the president's message tonight. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. TRENT LOTT (R), MAJORITY LEADER: He'll have an tonight to speak to the American people in a way that he's not had since he's been sworn in, to go into some detail about what he proposes to do, including in the tax area. The American people do want us to have a tax relief, while paying down, in an orderly way, the national debt. And he will outline his plans to do exactly that.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SNOW: Now, one thing to not likely hear tonight -- that we are not likely to hear tonight is a lot of detail about what kind of spending the president would like to see cut or reduced, where he thinks that we should limit -- Congress should limit further spending.

The Democrats say that they want to hear more of those kinds of details out of the president. The senior most Democrat on the Senate Finance Committee telling us that he think that Americans want to hear more of that kind of details as well.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. MAX BAUCUS (D), MONTANA: Polls show that the support for the president's tax cut is plummeting. I mean, Americans would much rather see the Congress pay attention to social security, to prescription drug benefits, to pay down the debt.

A tax cut support in the American people -- but in the priority of things, the tax cut is less important to Americans.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SNOW: Senator Baucus, a key player on that finance committee, he has been wooed, if you will, by the White House through all of this. He says that the president's tax cut plan and his approach to passing this plan is focused a little bit too much on that $1.6 trillion tax cut figure. He says that he wishes that the president wouldn't focus on that number so much, and prove that if he says that he is a unifier, he really means, prove that he can work with the Congress on passing a tax cut.

Back to you, Natalie

ALLEN: All right, Kate Snow on Capitol Hill, thanks.

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