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CNN LIVE EVENT/SPECIAL

President Bush Speaks Before Meeting of Women Entrepreneurs in Washington D.C.

Aired March 19, 2002 - 11:14   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.
CAROL LIN, CNN ANCHOR: Right now, we want to go to President Bush who is speaking in Washington D.C. to a womens' business group, talking tax cuts.

(JOINED IN PROGRESS)

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: ... were willing to allow people to keep their own money stimulated demand. And when you stimulate demand, that then causes production increases. And when you increase production, you increase jobs. The tax cut came just at the time our economy was losing steam.

It was an important part of the fact that our economy is beginning to rebound.

And for those who think we ought to undo the tax cut, they've got a mighty high hurdle to cross: That's me.

(APPLAUSE)

And here's the thing about the tax cut that I know was incredibly important for the future of our country: Most small businesses -- let me put it like this: Many small businesses, many, many businesses are sole proprietorships or are limited partnerships, and therefore do not pay corporate rate income-tax. They pay individual rates. And therefore, by cutting all rates what we did was provide cash flow to the small businesses of America.

The tax reduction plan was important for small business growth and activity. The more businesses, the more cash flow a small- business owner has in her pocket, the more likely it is the business will succeed and expand and create more jobs.

This tax cut not only happened at the right time, it was really good for small businesses in America.

(APPLAUSE)

A lot of us in Washington didn't feel like that was enough, and so we fought for an economic stimulus plan, which I'm proud to report I was able to sign in the Rose Garden a couple of weekends ago. With the help of both Republicans and Democrats, the plan made it to my desk. It is a plan that says, we're going to help people whose lives were affected because of the attacks of 9-11 by extending unemployment benefits. But it also recognized that people don't want an unemployment check, they want a permanent paycheck.

And therefore, we created additional stimulus, mainly encouraging people to invest in plant and equipment. Encourage people to invest in plant and equipment, that will help those who are the immediate employer, but also those who manufacture the equipment or construct the plant will also have employment. So it's a ripple effect in our economy. And so I was pleased to sign that bill, and it's going to help, in my judgment, not only in the short-term, but in the out- years, as well.

And we're seeing some encouraging signs of recovery.

But I want to tell you something, I'm not a numbers crunchers and I'm not one of these bean counters, but I don't believe the economy is strong enough to say that we've recovered.

I worry about the fact there are too many people in our country still looking for work. And if people who want to work, can't find work...

(APPLAUSE)

... and if people who want to work can't find work, we've got to keep moving on the subject of economic security and economic recovery. And that's what I want to talk to you about today.

Again, I repeat, if the small business sector creates two-thirds of the new jobs in America, it makes a lot of sense to focus on how to stimulate small business growth.

So I want to talk to you about some of my plans to do so, starting with this. And basically, the summary is that we're going to lift unfair regulatory burdens. We're going to encourage additional cash flow, and we're going to work to make sure that American entrepreneurs have got access to government contracting.

(APPLAUSE)

Because the economic stimulus package only had a three-year life to it, I believe Congress ought to pass additional incentives for small businesses to invest in plant and equipment -- incentives beyond the incentives in the economic stimulus package.

As you know, annual tax deductions are limited to a certain amount of money on an annual basis for small businesses and the size of the purchase is relatively small. I think we ought to increase the size of the purchase of plant and equipment, as well as increase the annual deductions for small businesses, in order to enhance cash flow, which will make it easier for people to find more jobs in America.

(APPLAUSE) Secondly, the complexity of the tax code is a tremendous burden on small businesses. And we must simplify it. It's an interesting fact, I ran into, nine out of 10 small businesses owned by women have fewer than five employees. And the amount of time people spend over trying to figure out a complicated tax system, is enormous. It is a, frankly, not that good a use of your time, so I talked to...

(APPLAUSE)

... I talked to Secretary O'Neill about this very subject, I want to share with you. One, I instructed him to report on ways that the Treasury Department can simplify the tax code on small businesses as quickly as possible.

I will give you one idea -- not an idea, one thing we're going to do immediately, by a revenue rule, it's called.

And, Paul, I promise you, is the kind of fellow that when he's asked to do something, he'll get it done quickly. And I've asked him to do this...

(LAUGHTER)

... service businesses with gross revenues of under $10 million will be able to use the cash accounting method of accounting as opposed to accrual method of accounting.

(APPLAUSE)

Simply put, that will eradicate a lot of time spent on trying to figure out the accrual method of accounting. It simplifies the accounting process for small businesses, which will be a time-saver and a money-saver and will help create more jobs by simplifying the regulatory burden on small businesses. We're going to get this done quickly.

(APPLAUSE)

Although what I'm about to tell you won't have an immediate affect on job creation, it is an important part of any small business owners plan or strategy, and it's this: We've eliminated the death tax as a result of the new tax reform, however, because of -- I guess you would call a quirk in the law -- the death tax would not be totally eliminated the year 2011. We must make the repeal of the death tax permanent. I call upon Congress to do this immediately.

(APPLAUSE)

It is unfair, patently unfair for any entrepreneur, for a woman entrepreneur to develop her own business and have that business taxed twice as she tries to leave her assets to whoever she chooses. It is not fair.

(APPLAUSE)

There are a lot of federal regulations that complicate the lives of small-business people all across the country.

The SBA has calculated that the hidden costs of regulations to businesses with fewer than 20 workers, and it says, it comes down to $7,000 per worker. That's a lot of money. It's a lot of money particularly if you're trying to figure out ways to expand your employment base. And this is a drag on our economy. Hidden costs are a drag on the U.S. economy.

And so I today I want to make sure people understand that we're going to do everything we can to clean up the regulatory burdens on small businesses, starting with this: Every agency -- already it's under current law -- but every agency is required to analyze the impact of new regulations on small businesses before issuing them.

That's an important law. The problem is it's oftentimes being ignored. The law's on the books. The regulators don't care that the law's on the books. From this day forward, they will care that the law's on the books.

(APPLAUSE)

I've talked to Mitch Daniels, who heads the Office of Management and Budget. We'll not accept regulations that do not calculate the cost on American small businesses. We want the law...

(APPLAUSE)

We want to enforce the law. It is a good law to have a cost- benefit analysis of any regulation on small business. If regulations provide a hidden cost on small businesses, which provide a drag on our economy, and if we're trying to stimulate our economy, one way to do so is to enforce the law which says that we will not have costly regulations on small businesses in America, and that's what we're going to do.

Furthermore, if you've got a problem with regulations, if there are meddlesome regulations which are costly for you to operate your business, that you don't think makes any sense, I urge you to get on the Internet and wire the OMB your problem so we can analyze them. Now here's the -- if you want to write this down, here it is.

(LAUGHTER)

Seems like a lot of people are getting ready to write it down.

(LAUGHTER)

I'm not surprised. www.whitehouse.gov.

(LAUGHTER)

Wait a minute, it's getting better -- /OMB/inforeg. And wire them in. I talked to Mitch before I came over here. I said, "Mitch, I just can't stand up here and say you're going to get rid of regulations and ask people to call in or write in. Give us some place to send the information." And I said, "Now, if I stand up here in front of the women entrepreneurs of America and somebody e-mails in, you better respond."

(LAUGHTER)

(APPLAUSE)

www.whitehouse.gov/OMB/inforeg.

Fifth, I am proposing measures to make health care more available. I understand the drag on small businesses.

(APPLAUSE)

It is hard for you to attract good workers, it is hard for you to keep good workers if your health care costs are going sky high. I understand that. There's a lady who wrote in. She said, "I have 12 employees, and I was canceled three times by my insurance company in 2001. And the reason they gave me is that they are no longer going to be writing small group plans."

Perhaps that's happened to some of you all out here as well.

"If we could get into a larger pool, where we could get access to lower premiums, then I could insure more people and hire some more people."

Think that's a universal complaint all across America. And that's why I strongly support association health plans.

(APPLAUSE)

That means that small businesses will be able to pool together and spread their risk across a larger employee base. It makes no sense, no sense in America to isolate small businesses as little health care islands unto themselves. We must have association health plans. I know the senator strongly supports that and Congress ought to support them.

And here's the way they will work. It means a family restaurant or a local hardware store can insure their workers, say, through the National Federation of Independent Businesses or the National Restaurant Association. It allows association groups to write health care plans across jurisdictional boundaries, to the benefit -- to the benefit not only of the small business owner, but to the benefit of those who work for small businesses.

(APPLAUSE)

And finally, government contracting must be more open and more fair to small businesses. I believe...

(APPLAUSE)

I know government contracting, if wisely done, can help achieve a grand national goal, which is more ownership in more communities all across America. But you know as well as I do that there are some large hurdles for small businesses. One is is that -- the main one is is that agencies sometimes, many times, only let huge contracts with massive requirements, and they tend to go to the same group of large, corporate bidders.

(APPLAUSE)

The term of art in Washington is called bundling.

(AUDIO GAP)

BUSH: ... and I want him to examine. He understands, like I understand, the capacity for our government to encourage entrepreneurial growth, the capacity for our government to stimulate small business ownership in all communities across America.

And so one of the things we're going to do is we're going to examine the federal government's contracting policies to make sure that they encourage competition as opposed to exclude competition; to make sure that the process is open; to make sure the process helps achieve a noble objective, which is more ownership in our country. And wherever possible, we're going to insist that we break down large federal contracts so that small business owners have got a fair shot at federal contracting.

(APPLAUSE)

The government can provide an environment that will encourage risk taking. And I believe when we do these, it'll encourage risk taking. There are no guarantees in the free enterprise system, as you all know. But we can make the system more open and more inviting. We can encourage

(AUDIO GAP)

BUSH: ... risk. And that's exactly what we're going to do in this administration. It is important for the economic security of the United States of America.

Not only am I concerned about economic security, I'm also concerned about our national security. And I want to share some thoughts with you about my thinking about our national security.

Now, first, I know there are many from New York City here who suffered mightily on September the 11th. And I want to say how much I appreciate that city showing not only our nation, but the world what it means to be resolute and tough and determined to succeed.

(APPLAUSE)

Not only watching how New Yorkers responded, but seeing how our nation responded leads me to conclude that the enemy didn't understand who they were dealing with.

(LAUGHTER)

(APPLAUSE)

You see, they thought we were so materialistic and so self- absorbed that the only thing I was going to do was sue them.

(LAUGHTER)

They were wrong. They were wrong.

My most important job is to protect innocent lives in America. My most important job is to protect the homeland. And we've got a strategy in place to deal with a bioterrorist attack. We got a first- responder strategy. We're doing a better job of buttoning up our borders. We want to know who's coming in and why they're here and when they're leaving. We've got to do a better job.

But I want to tell you all that the best way to achieve the objective of securing the homeland is to chase the killers down wherever they try to hide and bring them to justice.

(APPLAUSE)

And I want to assure you that's what's going to happen. And it's going to take a while. But the good news is the American people are patient. I believe the American people understand the difficulty that lies ahead. I know the United States military does and I'm so proud of the way they have accomplished the mission so far.

(APPLAUSE)

I gave a speech in Washington a while ago, and once you're over 55, everything is a while ago.

(LAUGHTER)

I can't remember if it was a week or two weeks, but nevertheless, a while ago.

(LAUGHTER)

That said the first phase in the war against terror is over with. and that first phase was upholding the doctrine that said, if you harbor a terrorist or feed a terrorist or hide a terrorist, you're just as guilty of those who came and murdered innocent Americans and others from around the world. And the Taliban found out exactly what this great nation meant.

(APPLAUSE)

They're no longer in business.

(LAUGHTER)

I was so proud of our country because we sought not revenge, but justice. That's what we seek.

And we didn't go to Afghanistan as conquerors. We arrived as liberators. As Elaine Chao mentioned...

(APPLAUSE)

As Elaine Chao mentioned, this week, for the first time, many young girls will be going to school. I am so proud of our country.

(APPLAUSE)

I am proud of our military. I'm proud of the children who've raised millions of dollars for Afghan children. I'm proud of the compassion of our country. We've showed the world that not only will we seek justice, we've showed the world that we will seek a better society for citizens starting in Afghanistan by rooting them from the clutches of one of the most barbaric, backward regimes history has ever known.

But there's more to do. And as leaders in your communities, it is important for me to share this with you. Any time Al Qaeda bunches up, we're going to get them. They did so in the Shahikot mountain range, and they now regret that. Because you see, there are still thousands of these trained killers around.

And I want to tell you, I cannot make it any more plain than this, they hate America. And the reason they hate America is because we're free. We're a free society. They can't stand the thought of the president of the United States of America coming to speak to women who own their own business.

(APPLAUSE)

These are people who are irrational, and we will treat them like the international criminals they are, by keeping them on the run. So the second phase, my fellow Americans, of this war is to deny them sanctuary. Anywhere they try to light (ph), we will disrupt them. We will be patient, we'll be deliberate, but I can assure you, we will be determined.

I have submitted a budget that significantly raises the defense spending. And the reason I did was because I want those who risk their lives on behalf of Americans to get the best pay, the best equipment, the best training possible.

I recognize that the price of freedom is high, but as far as I'm concerned, it is never too high.

(APPLAUSE)

The world watches us. The world tests -- or really looks at our will. They want to know whether or not we're people who just talk or people who are wiling to lead. And they're going to find out we're a nation that when somebody attacks our values and murders our citizens and still wants to do so, they will find that we are a strong, resolute, determined and united people, much to the chagrin -- much to the chagrin -- of terrorist networks around the world. The more firm we are, the more likely it is the world will follow. And the more firm and determined we are, the more likely it is that we will achieve lasting peace.

My dream for the world is lasting peace. I want our children to grow up in a peaceful world, a world in which freedom at its very center is the most important value. And we can achieve that, there is no doubt in mind. As the United States remains firm and strong and achieves our clearly stated objectives, that we have a chance to solve problems that many never think could be solved around the world and leave behind such a wonderful legacy, not only for our own children, but for children in every country.

And at the same time we have an opportunity at home to show the world the true face of America, the heart and soul of the American people.

I want to thank very much Suzanne Tufts for being here today. She is the president and CEO of American Woman's Development Economic Corporation. Right after...

(APPLAUSE)

Right after the enemy attack, Suzanne and her organization moved quickly to help small businesses affected by the attack, primarily women-owned businesses, to help them, obviously, deal with the shock to their businesses, but also help them get back on their feet. It is this kind of compassion and care and concern for a neighbor that is the true strength of the country.

Listen, we're a great military power. And that's good.

(LAUGHTER)

But the true strength of America is not in the halls of government, it's in the hearts and souls of our citizens.

The thing that makes our country so unique is that we're a people that have heard the universal call to love a neighbor like you'd like to be loved yourself.

I'm asked all the time by people, "What can I do to help in the war against terror?" And the answer is, if you want to stand up to evil, do something good for a neighbor in need. If you want to stand up squarely in the face of evil...

(APPLAUSE)

... show somebody you love them. And those don't have to be magnificent acts of love. They can be small acts of generosity which, in their total, help define America for the rest of the world.

Just walking across the street to a lonely shut-in is, in itself, part of the defiance to evil, or mentoring a child or thanking a teacher or generosity with your checkbook or using your time and talents through your church or synagogue or mosque to help people who are hopeless in our society.

Out of this incredible evil done to America, I see great good. I see not only the good of lasting world peace, I see a nation that is more compassionate and hopeful, a nation that understands that by adhering to the admonition to love a neighbor just like you'd like to be loved yourself, we set a clear example of what's possible in other places around the world.

I have been not only amazed, I have been so gladdened by what I've seen and heard about America in the face of this tragedy. Not only are we determined to seek justice, we're determined to right wrongs, to help heal souls and to help people in need.

It is such an honor to be the president of a country that embraces the entrepreneurial spirit for all. But more importantly, it's an honor to be the president of a country full of decent and heartfelt and compassionate Americans.

God bless.

LIN: All right, President Bush covering a lot of ground at this business meeting before women entrepreneurs. He was talking about simplifying tax breaks for small businesses, as well as regulations and giving them increased simplified access to their own health plans. And then he went on to talk about the war on terror, everything from a successful bombing campaign to then just urging Americans to be more compassionate toward their neighbors.

President Bush speaking in Washington today.

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