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Democrats Respond to Bush Signing of Tax Bill

Aired June 7, 2001 - 10:35   ET

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


THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
LEON HARRIS, CNN ANCHOR: We see here Dick Gephardt, the House minority leader. He is now speaking in response to this tax package that was signed into law by President Bush moments ago.

(JOINED IN PROGRESS)

SEN. RICHARD GEPHARDT (D), MISSOURI: ... health care, Social Security, energy, the environment. This bill does not do that.

Today President Bush and Republicans in Congress have decided to sacrifice these priorities in order to give massive tax cuts to the wealthiest individuals. The top 1 percent get 38 percent of the benefits of this bill. Millions of Americans get nothing.

In my state of Missouri over 1 million taxpayers get no rebate or a small partial rebate. This bill leaves them behind. And because it's so loaded with gimmicks, this bill ignores the true cost of the tax cut and damages the priority of our country.

This bill turns its back on fiscal responsibility. It'll bring back the huge deficits that we worked so hard to get rid of over the last eight years. It rejects the Medicare prescription drug program, which we all promised the American people. It raids Medicare at the very moment baby boomers will be reaching retirement. It leaves no room for low-income energy assistance, and there's not a single dime anywhere in this bill to help poor and middle-class Americans paying high gas and electric prices and in their home.

This bill, in short, fails the American people and we will continue to work for fair tax relief in a more balanced agenda that invests in our highest needs and greatest national priorities.

It's now my pleasure to call on our colleague, Charles Rangel, our ranking member on the Ways and Means Committee, who did not have any input, unfortunately, into this tax bill.

SEN. CHARLES RANGEL (D), NEW YORK: Thank you, Mr. Leader.

And when he says I didn't have any input, what he's basically saying is that I was designated as the only Democrat in the House of Representatives to participate in what should have been a meeting between the Senate and the House, and I was excluded from the meeting. That meant the Democrats in the Ways and Means Committee was excluded and it meant every Democrat in the House was excluded. And so it's somewhat shameful today that the president would have a press conference and announce the signing of a bill that he had to campaign around the country to get support for over a trillion dollars in tax cuts, and the reason for it is that the beneficiaries of this tax cut are so few and those who lose out are so many. In New York City, we have a name for this concept, it's called "three card Mollie": Now you see it, tomorrow you won't.

Today we have a sound fiscal policy that has taken us years to pull us out of deficit spending. Now we see a sound Social Security system, a sound Medicare system, a sound future for education and health benefits for our elderly, but tomorrow you won't.

And why is that? It's because this gimmicky tax cut only stays into effect -- first, it goes into effect fully in nine years. It is backloaded so that the things that people are looking for in name, such as, child credit, marriage penalty and the highest tax cuts on the top, this locks in the later years when we expect and hope and pray for a surplus, but then comes the 10-year cliff. And that means for people who don't understand it that whatever cut you get today for the wealthy, then the next president in 10 years, the next Congress in 10 years, will have to raise taxes in order to make up for that loss....

HARRIS: We're just now hearing the Democrats making their first salvo in the war that's to come over this tax bill that's just been signed by President Bush, the first complaints here being by Democrats who say they had no input into the process of putting this bill together. They're saying that it sacrificed popular priorities.

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