Tags: Bush: | Disaster | Raise | Taxes'

Bush: 'A Disaster to Raise Taxes'

Monday, 07 January 2002 12:00 AM

The president met with Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan and his top economic advisers at the White House shortly after returning from vacation in Texas, underlining the administration's focus on the economy and its place of prominence in the next session of Congress.

"I'm making good progress in winning the war in Afghanistan, and we've got to make good progress about helping people find work," the president told reporters before the meeting began.

"The cornerstone of any good policy is going to be to take care of, help people help themselves, take care of those who may have lost their job as a result of 9-11, but always remember the most important thing for those who have lost their job is to be able to find work.

"And so the question I'm going to ask and the question I hope Congress asks is how best to create jobs. What can we do to encourage economic growth so that people who want to work can find work?"

The president, on a visit to California over the weekend, declared "not over my dead body" would Democrats increase taxes. In Saturday's radio address to the nation he made it clear America's economic well-being shared equal billing with the war on terrorism in 2002.

"The events of Sept. 11 left America sadder and stronger, and they clarified some important goals for our country," he said. "We have a war to wage and a recession to fight.

"Defending our country and strengthening our economy are great priorities for 2002. We must be determined, and we must keep our focus."

Among those meeting with Bush Monday, in addition to Greenspan, were Vice President Dick Cheney, Secretary of Labor Elaine Chow, Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neill, economic adviser Lawrence Lindsey and Commerce Secretary Don Evans.

Bush told reporters it "makes sense to spend money to win the war," that it made sense to spend money to protect domestic security and to spend money on other necessary programs even if there may be a budget deficit.

But, "It would be a disaster to raise taxes in a recession. Somebody must be reading a different economic textbook here in Washington."

Bush’s economic stimulus package, stalled in the Senate after House passage, would be center stage in the talks.

"We did make very good progress on an economic stimulus package. We had a bill come out of the House of Representatives, and there was a bill, we took, that could have passed the U.S. Senate. There was enough votes, had the bill been brought up on the floor, that it would have passed," Bush said.

"It took good features from a Republican point of view. It took good features from the Democrat point of view. We brought it together and made a very good package. That's pretty darn good progress. Except along the way, there was an attitude that said, 'Well, maybe we don't need a package.'

"I happen to believe we do need one, and there was a good one that could have passed."

Democrats argued that the president's stimulus package unfairly rewarded the "rich" who pay the most taxes and shortchanged direct financial assistance to the people forced out of work by the terror attacks.

Dollars and cents, and the lack of, has already surfaced as the Democrat's hoped-for cudgel against Republicans in the 2002 congressional elections, with control of the Senate and the House laying in the balance.

Senate plurality leader Tom Daschle, D-S.D., and others charge the president's earlier 10-year, $1.3 trillion tax cut has eviscerated the revenue surplus from the Clinton administration. Democrats have floated a delay, or scaling back, in tax cuts.

Bush and the Republicans, however, argue the sputtering economy is at least partially the result of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, and that tax cuts are needed for individuals and industry to stop the economic slide, reinvigorate the economy and create jobs.

"We have the ingredients for a plan," the president said in California. "There's a bill that came out of the House. There was one that could have come out of the Senate. The votes were there. And so I just hope some of the senators that kind of stood in the way of getting an economic plan done listen to the people and hear the voices of the people and come back and do what's right for the country.

"There's going to be people who say we can't have the tax cut go through any more. That's a tax raise. I challenge their economics when they say raising taxes will help the country recover," Bush had said.

Bush, enjoying unprecedented approval in public opinion polls over his handling of the war against terrorism, appears hoping to blend that perception with his economic battle plan, stressing that the bipartisanship on Capitol Hill in defending the country from Osama bin Laden and other terrorists is needed on the domestic front as well.

Copyright 2002 by United Press International.

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The president met with Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan and his top economic advisers at the White House shortly after returning from vacation in Texas, underlining the administration's focus on the economy and its place of prominence in the next session of...
Monday, 07 January 2002 12:00 AM
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