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CNN LIVE EVENT/SPECIAL

Snow's Job

Aired February 7, 2003 - 11:03   ET

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

CAROL LIN, CNN ANCHOR: Right now, let's go live to the president of the United States, who is in the process of swearing-in the new secretary of the treasury, John Snow.
Let's hear what he has to say.

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The nation's rate of unemployment was 5.7 percent last month, down from the prior months.

But we will not be satisfied until this economy grows fast enough to employ every man and woman who seeks a job.

(APPLAUSE)

We will work with the United States Congress to address these challenges. And John Snow will be on the -- will be on point in working with the Congress.

I proposed a plan to boost the economy, with tax relief for every American who pays federal income taxes.

(APPLAUSE)

Here's what we believe: By leaving more money in the hands that earned it, we will stimulate consumer spending and encourage investment so that businesses, large and small, can expand and employ more people.

We know the role of government is not to create wealth, but an environment in which the entrepreneurial spirit flourishes. We know that businesses hire when they grow, and they grow when they invest. And so our proposal will promote capital formation.

It is important for Congress to remember that most small businesses are sole proprietorships or limited partnerships. And when we cut individual tax rates, we are stimulating capital formation in the small-business sector of America.

(APPLAUSE)

Our proposal will promote capital formation and investment by ending the unfair double taxation on dividends.

(APPLAUSE)

Not only will this proposal help when it comes for job- creation, it'll help all investors, including nearly 10 million seniors who receive dividend income.

The secretary of treasury has been to Capitol Hill a lot already.

(LAUGHTER)

And he went up there recently to talk about the budget I submitted to the Congress. This budget calls for spending discipline in Washington, D.C.

We believe the best way to deal with our deficits is to encourage economic growth and encourage spending discipline in Washington, D.C.

(APPLAUSE)

In addition to his work as economic adviser and economic spokesman for the country, for this administration, Secretary Snow will lead one of the oldest, largest and most important departments of our government. The Department of Treasury bears responsibility for a wide range of important tasks, from minting our nation's currency to stopping the flow of money to terrorist groups.

I appreciate the good work of the dedicated men and women throughout this department. And you can rest assured that your new boss is a superb executive and a fine man with a good heart.

BUSH: John will be an active advocate for policies that encourage economic growth, and he'll be a good steward of the taxpayers' dollars. And that is fitting, because very soon each one of those dollars will bear the signature of Secretary John Snow.

(LAUGHTER)

Congratulations.

(APPLAUSE)

JOHN SNOW, SECY. OF TREASURY: Thank you.

(APPLAUSE)

This is an enthusiastic crowd we've got here today. Thank you.

(APPLAUSE)

Mr. President, Treasury colleagues, family and friends, it's truly humbling to stand before you today as the heir to a tradition as old as our Constitution and in a role established by the founders of this republic.

Mr. President, you've upheld the honor and dignity of your office through times of unforeseen peril, renewing our nation's hope and our nation's confidence. I, too, shall strive to maintain that standard of leadership in the office to which you've appointed me.

In working with my colleagues here, we intend to earn your faith and reward your trust in us. Today the challenge facing the department is clear; the president has mentioned it. Our task is to help restore the American economy to its full and its vast potential.

In the past, Mr. President, you've taken well-timed and decisive actions to bolster the economy, to bolster our freedoms and our security and our confidence. And at the start of this year, you put forth a bold new proposal for jobs and for growth, a proposal that is precisely the right medicine at precisely the right time.

My first responsibility, the department's first responsibility, is to deliver your plan to the American people, so that all those who seek to find work, all families who seek to provide for their parents and their children, and all businesses can invest and growth with confidence in our shared future.

Like you, Mr. President, I want to see "Help Wanted" signs go up all across America.

To do so, we must build on the proven strengths of our economy. We must continue to move toward polices that create more good jobs and raise the living standards for all. As long as there is one American who wants a job and can't find one, the economy simply isn't growing fast enough.

That's why your jobs and growth package is so essential. The package will not only return America to its economic potential, but I'm convinced it's going to give us a higher growth path for the future. It will create a more abundant future for all.

Swift enactment of this package is my number-one priority.

Mr. President, you've asked much of this department, and you've put us at the very center of the economic policy debate. I'm confident that, working with my colleagues here, we will respond to all that you ask of us because of the truly dedicated and able public servants here at 1500 Pennsylvania Avenue.

I've gotten to know a lot of the folks in this department, going through this confirmation process. They really are the best and the brightest. The success we will enjoy is due to their excellence and their integrity. And it's an honor to count myself today among all of you.

Mr. President, the charge you've bestowed upon us is truly a joyful privilege. I want to thank you for it and commit to you that we will execute it with pride.

Thank you.

(APPLAUSE)

Good job.

LIN: All right, and those are the first words as the 73rd treasury secretary of the United States, officially now former railroad executive, John Snow, the secretary of treasury.

In the meantime, we did hear President Bush talking at this ceremony. He did not say anything about the elevated terror threat that we're expecting to hear at a news conference with John Ashcroft and homeland security director Tom Ridge at 1:00 this afternoon.

But Dana Bash standing by at the White House.

Dana, Do you have any sense, also -- I just want to mention also David Ensor at the State Department, who's been working his sources as well on the terror threat.

But, Dana, first to you at the White House, do you have any idea when it is the president of the United States made this decision to raise the terror threat from elevated to high?

DANA BASH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, the president, we understand, did meet with advisers, his top advisers, this morning, and discussed the situation, and at that time, I'm told, is when he made the decision to sign off on raising the threat.

Now, typically, Carol, as you've been hearing this morning, what happens is, the department heads from the key areas, the FBI, Justice Department and now the Department of Homeland Security and, of course, the CIA, gather this information very -- on a minute-by-minute basis, and they assess the situation constantly, and when they feel that it is time perhaps to raise the threat, they essentially decide that is the case and present that to the president, and he decides to sign off on that. That is what I'm told he did this morning in a meeting with some top advisers. I'm also told that some of his top deputies did start making calls to Capitol Hill to start informing them, in fact, the threat level would be raised.

LIN: All right, thank you very much, Dana. Stay right there for a quick second.

David Ensor in Washington, what is it your sources are telling you in terms of what kinds of threats government officials were hearing?

DAVID ENSOR, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Carol, the key words when you're talking about intelligence is, is the intelligence specific and credible? And those words are now passing the lips of U.S. officials. Officials are saying there is a lot of intelligence now, a rising amount of intelligence, suggesting a number of terrorist groups may be trying to affect some kind of attack against the U.S., U.S. targets, U.S. citizens abroad.

It's coming from a wide variety of intelligence sources, and some of it is specific.

Now, officials that I have spoken to said they know how specific, they know in what way specific, but they want to leave it to Secretary Ridge and Attorney General Ashcroft to decide how much of that should be made public. Still, they are saying that the intelligence that they have, and there's a heightened level of threat danger in their view, and some of this is specific and also credible -- Carol.

LIN: David, when you say specific or when they say specific, do they mean a specific target or the specific nature of the attack, like, for example, car bomb attacks versus any other sort of attack? What do they really mean by specific?

ENSOR: Unfortunately, it could be any one of those. The word specific can mean any of those. It can mean they know of a specific target or targets that are contemplated, that they know of a specific method. It could mean a number of things. What it means is the intelligence suggests that this is real, this is not just a bunch of people talking about what they'd like to do. There are people out there with specific plans, and that the U.S. knows something about those plans, enough to be worried and to be wanting to consider raising the threat level -- Carol.

LIN: Thank you very much, David Ensor, reporting live from Washington.

Dana Bash, live at the White House.

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