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Vice President Speaks at Chamber of Commerce

Aired November 14, 2001 - 11:45   ET


MILES O'BRIEN, CNN ANCHOR: Let's move, now, across Washington, to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the Vice President.

DICK CHENEY, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: -- for the great work you've done over the years. We especially appreciate the efforts that went into helping pass the president's tax cut stimulus package last spring and summer. That was enormously beneficial. And given the state of affairs today, it's extremely important that we did that. And I'll come back and talk about that more in a minute.

Let me say just a word at the outset about the state of affairs in Afghanistan this morning. Obviously, everybody's been following the developments over there, especially over the last few days, as things have changed so dramatically.

At a time like this, when we see the Taliban in retreat, virtually, all over the country. They lost their control over a major part of Afghanistan. They've lost control of most of the cities. Many of their forces have been killed, captured or fled to the hills.

I guess there are a couple of lessons in that for folks. The hand-wringers who, a week or two ago, were saying, "It's not going to work; you're not doing enough; you've been at it now for three or four weeks, and my gosh, the war is not over yet," we've got, I think, some superb people working on this problem, some of the best I've ever seen, and I've been in the business a while.

And I'm thinking, in particular, about the leadership the president's provided overall and the way he's made a clear-cut series of very sound decisions here and about the enormous talent that Don Rumsfeld brings to the process as our secretary of defense. We keep telling Don, this is the second time he's been secretary; he's going to have to keep doing it until he gets it right.


Dick Myers, our new chairman of the Joint Chiefs, with a great deal of experience, and of course, Tommy Franks, our CINC, the head of CENTCOM. He's got the old Norm Schwarzkopf job. I worked with a great one, Norm Schwarzkopf, and we're working with another great one now in Tommy Franks.

The United States is blessed to have people of that caliber dealing with this problem. And you can't help but when you read the Washington press and see what all of the pundits have to offer and some of the talking heads on Washington have to offer, it's nice, at a moment like this, to be able to remind them that a lot of what they put out over the course of the last few weeks was just dead wrong, that we've got some great people running the operation. And the results are there for all to see.

That does not by any means indicate that this operation is over yet. We've got a long way to go. Remember our objectives in Afghanistan not only were to take down the Taliban, but also to wrap up the Al Qaeda network.

And clearly, we're obviously interested also in the command and control of that network and Osama bin Laden who runs it, and we're continuing very, very aggressively to pursue all those objectives this morning.

It's also important to remember that we've talked about this not just as a problem related to Afghanistan and Al Qaeda and the Taliban, but rather the problem of terrorism in general targeted against the United States.

The Al Qaeda network is a global network. They've got cells all over the world, and there's no reason for us to believe at this stage that this operation is about to end. A far more appropriate way to look at it is, this is a very good beginning to what's likely to be a long struggle.

There's another point that I think is vitally important to make this morning as well, too, and a major new departure, if you will, from the way we've operated in the past is what is increasingly known as the Bush doctrine, and that's the pronouncement the president made early on that we will hold those who harbor terrorists, those who provide sanctuary to terrorists, responsible for their acts.

If you're going to provide a sanctuary for the likes of Osama bin Laden, you are then going to accept the responsibility in our eyes for any acts he commits against the people of the United States of America, and you will face the full wrath of the people of the United States of America.


I think this morning, in the fate that has befallen the Taliban, there's proof positive: If anybody has any questions about whether or not we're determined to carry through on that threat, all they have to do is go visit Afghanistan today and interview members of the Taliban, if they can find any.

Let me move on, if I can, at this point and talk a bit about the economy and some of the issues you're addressing here today. Clearly, from an economic standpoint, we believe the fundamentals of the economy remain sound. We're the nation's -- the world's strongest economy, and I think the prospects are very bright long-term, but we clearly are in the midst of a significant economic slowdown as well, a slowdown that began a year ago or more that's carried on through into 2001 and was quite possibly headed for recessionary levels before September 11.

But since September 11, with the impact of the terrorists attacks, clearly the situation has gotten significantly worse. The slowdown is steeper. There's a lot of evidence out there to support this: consumer confidence at its lowest level in seven years; some 415,000 Americans who lost their jobs in the month of October -- that's the largest monthly loss in two decades; the third quarter growth minus .4 percent; blue chip forecast that in the fourth quarter, the GDP, gross domestic product, will shrink perhaps by 1.9 percent or even more here at the end of the year. And of course, two quarters back-to-back equals a recession.

We think it's absolutely essential that we enact another stimulus program as soon as possible. The president has made this a top priority. We've worked with Congress on it. We worked with the legislative leadership. The president discussed it just yesterday with the bipartisan leadership of the House and Senate in the regular weekly breakfast. The House has acted. The Senate is getting ready to act, I believe, considering the measure on the floor today.

We believe that if we're seriously interested in stimulus, though, that absolutely the best way to go is through tax relief. And there are some fundamental differences, if you look at the bill that is passed out of the House and the bill that has been approved by the Senate Finance Committee.

If we're serious about wanting to restore confidence, to encourage risks taking and investment and to create jobs, then clearly tax relief is the way to go. It can arrive quickly: Unlike spending programs, we don't have to create any new bureaucracy to write program guidelines and pump out funds for new programs. New lower tax rates for individuals and businesses will show up in pay checks starting January 1.

Tax relief is efficient: Spending programs come with strings attached. Tax relief gives individuals and businesses the ability to make economic decisions for themselves.

Tax relief is pro jobs: It gives businesses the bottom line incentives to invest in new equipment, to increase productivity and create jobs. Government spending programs are unlikely to boost productivity or wages.

And tax relief works. We know it works: President Kennedy cut marginal rates in the '60s, President Reagan in the '80s. Both tax cutting episodes led to periods of rapid, sustained economic growth and prosperity. If government spending caused economic growth, then Japan would have boomed instead of stagnating in the 1990s.

The economic approach the president's recommended does several things. We've called for a stimulus package of upwards of $75 billion that focused on immediate tax relief, especially on four particular initiatives: Number one, accelerate all the marginal tax rate reductions already approved by the Congress. This will put money immediately into the hands of consumers and businesses while improving incentives to work, save and invest. Allowing business to partially expense or deduct the cost of capital purchases is the second principle. That will also encourage companies to invest in plant and equipment.

Third is to eliminate the corporate alternative minimum tax. The corporate AMT is a job-killing tax that hits companies at precisely the wrong time during an economic downturn. Repealing it will improve corporate cash flow and increase job-creating investment.

And finally, we support the proposition of providing some relief for low-income taxpayers. And this will provide a rebate for those low-income taxpayers who filed a return last year but did not receive a rebate check in the earlier cuts this year.

If we look at the Senate spending plan, it's a stimulus plan that's primarily a spending plan. It is spending focused and does little, in our opinion, to actually help solve the problem or provide the kind of stimulus that the economy so badly needs.

There have been a number of studies done now comparing the approach that's been laid out in the president's plan and is pretty well-embodied in the House bill with what's been suggested, for example, by the Senate Finance Committee.

The Council of Economic Advisers estimates the president's approach will help businesses create roughly 300,000 more jobs by the end of next year.

Economists from the Center for Data Analysis over at the Heritage Foundation estimate the president's approach will produce nearly three times as many jobs as the Senate stimulus plan just in the first year.

And if we look at the period from 2002 to 2006 out over the next four years, we believe the president's plan would produce 10 times as many jobs as the Senate plan. That's the work done -- careful analytical study done by the Heritage Foundation. It also indicates the president's plan would generate significantly greater gains in disposable income in consumption expenditures and in investment.

The key message for Congress today is that it's absolutely essential to get on with the business of moving an economic stimulus plan now. We cannot afford to wait. This is not a matter that can be taken up after Congress goes home for the holidays and comes back and reconvenes in January and eventually begins to seriously consider legislation in February. We need to do it now.

It ought to be coupled, as well...


It ought to be coupled, as well, with a good energy program. We've got a good energy program for the House; hasn't seen anything yet in the Senate. And we also need to get trade promotion authority approved once again for the president. There's no reason in the world why that shouldn't be an integral part of recovery in our economy and expanding our economic hopes and aspirations. These are difficult issues, and there are legitimate differences between individuals and groups and parties on how best to proceed. But we think the evidence is overwhelming that a stimulus package needs to have as its central component significant tax relief, that that is in fact the way to get the job done, and we look forward to working with members of both parties in the Congress to get that package put together, get it to conference and get it resolved as quickly as possible.

Thank you very much.

O'BRIEN: Vice president Dick Cheney. We didn't show it, but was announced as, "welcome to undisclosed secure location," wink and nod, tongue fully in cheek, by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. Discussing briefly the situation in Afghanistan, taking critics of the administration to task for their presumptions that things have been going on too long, and launching into a pitch on behalf of the administration's economic stimulus package, which includes a package of tax relief. And we will be following that and the speech appears to be over.




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