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Special Event

President Bush Delivers Remarks on Tax Cuts Before Heading to North, South Dakota

Aired March 8, 2001 - 2:32 p.m. ET

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

LOU WATERS, CNN ANCHOR: And the full court press for the president's $1.6 trillion tax cut plan is under way today. We have the vote in the House of Representatives we've been telling you about. And now we have the president outside the White House on the South Lawn. He is schmoozing. He's had his photograph taken with one group. He's now schmoozing with others as he plans to make some remarks before he takes off for the Dakotas to continue taking his tax cut plan to the people, as he tells us repeatedly.

Major Garrett is there at the White House.

What's the president's plan here?

MAJOR GARRETT, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Lou, this is really a case study in the use of the presidential bully pulpit. Originally this morning, the White House did not intend to put the president out before he left for the Dakotas, but then they decided after watching some of the House floor action and seeing some of the delays there that it might be a good idea to put the president on tape so the networks, ours and others, could use him in the evening newscasts tonight before he goes to the Dakotas to have him talk about the tax cut itself.

He's coming to the podium now. Let's listen to the president.

(JOINED IN PROGRESS)

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: ... voting on tax relief. I'm confident they'll do the right thing. The message is loud and clear that we've got ample revenues to fund our priorities, to pay down debt, to set aside money for a contingency, and ample revenues to send money back to the people who pay the bills, the taxpayers.

I strongly believe, and I hope the House of Representatives sends the message that the people of America are overtaxed and deserve a refund. I'm looking forward to hearing the verdict of the vote.

I'm also looking forward to continuing my trip around the country. We're off to North Dakota and South Dakota and Louisiana.

And the message is the same: When you have a president and a Congress that works together to set priorities, to set the focus of the country on important matters when it comes to spending, we stop the growth -- the rapid escalation of the growth of the federal budget, we can meet priorities and have meaningful, real tax relief.

And it's needed. It's needed not only to provide a kick start to our economy, it is needed because many Americans today are struggling to make ends meet.

And so I'm confident that Congress will do the right thing.

Thank you all very much.

WATERS: President George W. Bush now on his way to Andrews Air Force Base and that trip to the Dakotas. He will first head for Fargo, North Dakota to sell his tax plan. And he'll be meeting with farmers there in South Dakota overnight.

Major Garrett, we were talking beforehand. I also wanted to ask you about some new distribution tables that are supposedly being released by the White House today to further help the administration sell its plan. What's that all about?

GARRETT: Yes, the Treasury Department, Lou, at the White House behest, released some distributional tables today to sort of analyze from their perspective how this tax cut affects all income taxpayers in America. According to the Treasury Department analysis, if you're a middle-income American, let's say earning between $30,000 and $40,000 per year, under the Bush income tax plan and entire tax plan, your taxes would be cut by 38 percent. Now, if you earn more than $200,000 a year, your income taxes would be cut by 8.7 percent.

The White House argument is that by percentages, the middle- income American benefits far more by percentages than the wealthy earner.

However, if you talk real dollars, of course, wealthy income Americans, who pay much larger income taxes, would gain in real dollar terms much more than the middle class.

But the White House wants to underscore that if you're going to talk about this tax cuts in the terms of fairness, at least by a percentage basis, from their point of view, it's much more fair to the middle class than it is to the wealthy.

One other thing about why he's going to the Dakotas, Lou, well, the Dakotas are home to four Democratic senators. Yet the Dakotas are two states, North and South, which President Bush carried handily. He wants to take his message and his support in that state to those Democratic senators and say to them, you know, I think I've got the country behind mean. Maybe you ought to reconsider opposing my tax cut.

Lastly, he goes on to Louisiana before heading to Texas. Two more Democratic senators there. Bush also carried that state. The exact same message there in Louisiana: I'm doing pretty well, the people seem to be responding, maybe you ought to reconsider -- Lou. WATERS: And one of those senators you mentioned is the minority leader in the Senate. That would be Tom Daschle. What kind of pressure does this put on him and others when the president makes this kind of appearance?

GARRETT: In reality, very little pressure on Tom Daschle. As the leader of the Democratic Party, the opposition party, he really has no flexibility. But there are other Democratic senators around him. In the Dakotas, for example -- in North Dakota, rather, Byron Dorgan and Kent Conrad. Those are two Democrats who may have to listen a little bit more closely to the president's message. Tim Johnson is another South Dakota Democrat who also may have to listen to the president's message just a little bit more closely.

What the president is doing is not so much concentrating on Republicans, although he does have some problems with his moderate Republican planks in the Senate, he's going to those Democrats, trying to show them that he can light a grassroots fire in their backyard, and by so doing persuade them that he's got the political clout to make their life a bit more difficult if, in fact, they don't support this tax cut -- Lou.

WATERS: All right, Major Garrett at the White House.

And the president is on his way. And we'll be hearing more in the days ahead. And more later today on the House vote on this issue.

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