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Dennis Hastert Speaks About Economic Stimulus Package

Aired October 24, 2001 - 10:08   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.
BILL HEMMER, CNN ANCHOR: As we were talking, Dennis Hastert came to the microphone in Washington. The House majority leader now speaking there.

(JOINED IN PROGRESS)

REP. DENNIS HASTERT (R-IL), HOUSE SPEAKER: Congress and the president took immediate steps to revive the economy by implementing President Bush's tax relief package. But I believe that action was the right one, one that we still expect to bring many benefits to our economy.

However, on September 11 our economy suffered another blow. People are out of jobs, businesses are losing money and we have depressed the stock market. And as Chairman Greenspan said, the attacks have made consumers and businesses pull back from spending.

In light of this situation, Congress and the president must act again to help our economy and to prevent the situation from worsening. We must get our workers back to work and strengthen our businesses so that they can continue to be productive and hire more employees. The economic security package today that we will have on the House floor will do just that. It will help meet the needs of out-of-work families, providing them with unemployment benefits, health care coverage and help in getting them back to work. Tax rebates and tax savings will help put more money in working people's pockets.

For example, people who received a partial rebate under the tax relief bill passed earlier this year will have their payments maximized to the full $300 for individuals and $600 for married couples. Those who filed a tax return in 2000, who were not eligible, will now receive the full $300 for individuals and $600 for couples.

Many small investors have suffered capital losses this year. Under the economic stimulus package, the current $3,000 deduction will be increased to $4,000 in the first year and $5,000 deduction in the second year.

At the same time, through a range of tax adjustments, we will encourage businesses to invest more in their companies and create more jobs. In order to create jobs and promote a prosperous and business environment, this legislation will permit a 30 percent expensing of investment in most forms of depreciable property during the next three-year period. I'm confident that the steps that we take will help us grow our economy. The long-term prospects for our economy are still good. The Congress and the president will work to make it even stronger.

At this time I'd like to introduce the author of this bill and the person who shepherded it through the process, our great chairman of the Ways and Means, Bill Thomas.

HEMMER: All right. The House speaker there, Dennis Hastert, talking about Republican plans in the House for an economic stimulus plan at this time. Again, it continues to take shape. It may come in front of Congress this week.

Let's got to the White House and CNN's Major Garrett. One would assume that there is some concert work here between House Republicans and the White House.

Major, fill us in.

MAJOR GARRETT, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Yes, good morning, Bill.

Here are some of the behind-the-scenes development. House Republicans put this stimulus plan together. It's $100 billion, more expensive than the president had originally outlined. You might recall, his parameters were $60 billion to $75 billion, and there has been a good deal of back and forth between House Republicans and the White House. On the one hand, House Republicans asking of the president, hey, get behind this bill. Even if you think it's too big, it's an opening bid. It will give you a stronger hand when you have to negotiate with the economic Senate, because they're not going to pass an economic stimulus bill with this many tax cuts in it, so get behind this.

White House has been a little reticent to do that, in part because when the president first put out that $60 billion to $75 billion number, he said he wanted to be careful that the package wasn't so large as to possibly in the future create deficits that could raise long-term interest rates.

Well, in all of the back and forth, the House Republicans appear to have extracted some concessions from the White House. The president will leave the White House in just a few hours and go up to Glen Bernie, Maryland and an economic event to give full voice for this particular House Republican bill. It is a beginning process, the president said, but a very good beginning, one he will fully embrace -- Bill.

HEMMER: Major, let's turn the corner here a little bit and talk about the events of yesterday afternoon. There is a tiny, and I want to emphasize tiny, almost minuscule amount of anthrax found at the mail processing center, where all of the mail goes before it is passed up to the White House. And the president issued the stirring words yesterday afternoon, saying "I have not contracted anthrax." What more is happening there in that front today? GARRETT: Let's give you a few new updates on this entire White House anthrax issue, Bill. First of all, CNN has confirmed that among the security precautions undertaken by the White House, as of October 11, no mail destined for the White House, destined for the West Wing or the executive mansion was delivered. All mail deliveries have been stopped to this complex as of October 11. That is to say, those mail that had been due here and was being processed has all been sent back to this Anacostia Naval Station facility, where yesterday, as you said quite accurately a trace amount of an anthrax was detected.

Now, there have been tests undertaken on about 200 employees present at that Anacostia Naval Station facility or at a secondary White House mail room, which is not in the White House complex itself, but it is in the neighboring Eisenhower executive office building; 200 people have been tested. Ari Fleischer, the White House press secretary, tells us, there have been 100 tests with results back, and there are no positives. Now, that's a testimony of art we have learned to get used to, Bill. We don't want to say negatives, because sometimes there have been false negatives. Ari Fleischer saying 120 no positives.

Mr. Fleischer was also asked why yesterday the president would not say whether in fact he was taking Cipro, the antibiotic, only saying he did not have anthrax. Ari Fleischer's explanation for the president's unwillingness to talk about that or any other therapy was people who want to do harm to the president might if he answered that question, have an opportunity to shift tactics. So there is indeed a very high degree of sensitivity about what is known and not known about the president's personal health, but he was very direct. He does not have anthrax -- Bill.

HEMMER: Garrett, at the White House, Major, thank you.

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