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Bush Signs Tax Cut Bill

Aired June 7, 2001 - 09:56   ET




GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Behave yourself. You're at the White House.


Laura, thank you very much for being here on this historic moment. Mr. Vice President, Secretary O'Neill, Director Daniels, Secretary Evans and Chao are here as well, Secretary Abraham, Administrator Christine Todd Whitman, members of the United States Senate, members of the House of Representatives, fellow Americans, welcome.

Some months ago in my speech to the joint session of Congress, I had the honor of introducing Steven Ramos (ph) to the nation. Steven (ph) is the network administrator for a school district. His wife, Josefina (ph), teaches at a charter school. They have a little girl named Liliana (ph). And they're trying to save for Liliana's (ph) college education.

High taxes made saving difficult. Last year, they paid nearly $8,000 in federal income taxes. Well, today, we're beginning to make life for the Ramoses (ph) a lot easier. Today, we start to return some of the Ramoses' (ph) money, and not only their money, but the money of everybody who paid taxes in the United States of America.


Across-the-board tax relief does not happen often in Washington, D.C. In fact, since World War II, it has happened only twice, President Kennedy's tax cut in the '60s and President Reagan's tax cuts in the 1980s. And now it's happening for the third time. And it's about time.


A year ago tax relief was said to be a political impossibility. Six months ago it was supposed to be a political liability. Today it becomes reality. It becomes reality because of the bipartisan leadership of the members of the United States Congress -- members like Bill Thomas of California, Ralph Hall of Texas, Charles Grassley of Iowa, Max Baucus of Montana, Zell Miller of Georgia, John Breaux of Louisiana, Trent Lott of Mississippi and the entire leadership team in the Senate; and Denny Hastert of Illinois and the leadership team in the House of Representatives; some Democrats, many Republicans, who worked tirelessly and effectively to produce this important result.

I also want to pay tribute to the members of my administration who worked with Congress to bring about this day. Vice President Cheney, Secretary O'Neill, Director Daniels and the team inside the White House of Andy Card and Larry Lindsey, Nick Calio and their staffs.

With us today are 15 of the many families I met as I toured our country making the case for tax relief, hard-working Americans. I was able to talk about their stories and their struggles and their hopes which made the case for tax relief much stronger than my words could possibly convey, and I want to thank you all for coming.

And here at the White House today are representatives of millions of Americans, including labor union members, small business owners and family farmers. Your persistence and determination helped bring us to this day. The American people should be proud of your efforts on their behalf and I personally thank you all for coming.

Tax relief is a great achievement for the American people.

Tax relief is the first achievement produced by the new tone in Washington, and it was produced in record time.


Tax relief is an achievement for families struggling to enter the middle class. For hard-working, lower-income families, we have cut the bottom rate of federal income tax from 15 percent to 10 percent. We doubled the per child tax credit to $1,000 and made it refundable. Tax relief is compassionate, and it is now on the way. Tax relief is an achievement for middle class families squeezed by high energy prices and credit card debt.

Most families can look forward to a $600 tax rebate before they have to pay the September back-to-school bills. And in the years ahead, taxpayers can look forward to steadily declining income tax rates.

Tax relief is an achievement for families that want the government tax policy to be fair and not penalize them for making good choices -- good choices such as marriage and raising a family -- so we cut the marriage penalty. Tax relief makes the code more fair for small businesses and farmers and individuals by eliminating the death tax.


Over the long haul, tax relief will encourage work and innovation. It'll allow American workers to save more in the pension plan or individual retirement accounts. Tax relief expands individual freedom. The money we return or don't take in the first place can be saved for a child's education, spent on family needs, invested in a home or in business or a mutual fund or used to reduce personal debt.

The message we send today, it's up to the American people. It's the American people's choice. We recognize loud and clear the surplus is not the government's money. The surplus is the people's money and we ought to trust them with their own money.


This tax relief plan is principled. We cut taxes for every income taxpayer. We target nobody in; we target nobody out. And tax relief is now on the way. Today is a great day for America. It is the first major achievement of a new era -- an era of steady cooperation and more achievements are ahead.

I thank the members of Congress in both parties who made today possible. Together we will lead our country to new progress and new possibilities.

It is now my honor to sign the first broad tax relief in a generation.


LEON HARRIS, CNN ANCHOR: And as President Bush goes ahead and takes the ceremonial pens and signs this bill into law -- this bill that represents what he says is the first major achievement of a new era of cooperation in Washington -- let's bring in our correspondent there, standing by in Washington, who's been listening all along, Kelly Wallace -- Kelly.

KELLY WALLACE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's right exactly right, Leon, this the first major piece of legislation President Bush signing into law. Of course, he made a significant tax cut the centerpiece of his presidential campaign. Although his proposal was a $1.6 trillion plan, he is signing into law a $1.35 trillion tax cut -- clearly, the White House feeling this a major victory.

The president, though, ended on a note of what the White House is calling bipartisanship, Mr. Bush pointing to the tax bill as an example of how Republicans and Democrats can get things done in Washington. As you see, members of Congress are behind the president, including three of the 12 Democratic senators who supported this, Senators Breaux, Baucus and Zell Miller, as well as a couple of the Democratic House members who joined Republicans to pass this measure Memorial Day weekend. The White House says, again, this shows how Republicans and Democrats can work together.

But a majority of Democrats did not vote for this measure. They think that it's too big, too generous to the wealthy, and could lead the country back to the deficits of the 1980s. The new leader of this Senate, Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle told reporters yesterday that Congress will be forced to revisit this tax bill in the years to come, because he believes it will have a devastating impact on the budget and the economy -- Leon.

HARRIS: As we see this panoply of dignitaries who have assembled to help celebrate this moment, we noticed only one Democrat on this dais with the president. That is Zell Miller, the senator from Georgia.

We should also note that Mr. Bush here made reference to that this is the third time that there has been tax relief in the history of this country, and the first two times happened under President Kennedy, in the '60s, and President Reagan, in the '80s, but he did not note that President Reagan's tax cut was actually cut quite a bit in Congress. Congress rolled back about one-third of that 1981 tax cut.

Later on down the road, we'll see how things shape up with this one, because there are already voices of dissent of sounding out about what some are calling gimmicks in this tax package.



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