Welcome to "Ask the White House" -- an online interactive forum where you can submit questions to Administration officials and friends of the White House. Visit the "Ask the White House" archives to read other discussions with White House officials.
July 20, 2004
Thanks so much for having me here on "Ask the White House." I'm in the beautiful state of Maine today, and am so pleased to be able to participate in this conversation!
Ross, from Pensacola FL writes:
Jobs lie at the foundation of the American dream. Jobs give people dignity and the hope of a better tomorrow. It is through jobs that people provide for their families and their children - the education and wellbeing of their loved ones. This President cares deeply about jobs and all of us in the Bush Administration are concerned about the loss of any job. We want to create as many jobs as possible. Everybody who wants a job deserves the chance to work.
Let me put this in perspective though. Despite what some of our critics are saying, economic isolation is not the answer. Only 5% of the global population lives in the U.S. That means that 95% of our potential market is outside the U.S. We need to stay engaged with the rest of the world. We need those markets opened to our farmers, our service industry and our manufacturers. We have the best workforce in the world, the most innovative businesses, and the most competitive companies. We can compete with anybody. We will only grow our economy by expanding their opportunities to market American products and services to the world. We must say no to economic isolation.
Staying economically engaged with the rest of the world is critical to our own economic health; it is good for job creation. For example, 12 million American jobs depend on exports and 6.4 million Americans receive paychecks from foreign-owned firms. American workers and their products are the best in the world; we are extremely competitive and there is no doubt that we benefit from free trade in terms of both jobs and revenue.
Raymond, from Conroe, Texas writes:
Making the President's tax cuts permanent is central to that goal. We also need legal reforms that will lower the "tort tax," the financial and psychological burden on our business community caused by abusive lawsuits and aggressive personal injury lawyers. Lowering the cost of doing business is good news for American workers because American companies are more likely to create new jobs for them.
David, from Atlanta, GA writes:
The economy is beyond recovery - it is in an expansion, and has created 1.5 million new jobs since last August. And the average American does, indeed, have more money: After-tax incomes are up 11 percent since the President took office, and household wealth is at an all-time high, as is homeownership.
The President's tax cuts clearly benefited our economy, and helped every taxpayer in this country. In fact, those at the lowest end of the income brackets benefited the most from the tax cuts. Higher income individuals are actually now paying a higher percentage of the total individual income tax burden.
Before the President's 2001 and 2003 tax cuts, the top 1% paid 30.5% of individual income taxes. Now they pay 32.3%. Before the cuts, the top 10% paid 62.6%. Now they pay 64.8%. And on the other end, the bottom 50% paid 4.1% of all individual income taxes before the cuts, and now they pay 3.6 %. Which means that taxpayers that rank in the top 50% pay 96.4% of all individual income taxes.
We've made great progress, but there is no doubt that there is more room for us to grow, economically. With continued strong economic policy, we should be able to create more jobs for hardworking Americans - and we won't be satisfied until every American who seeks work finds it.
Woodrow, from Roanoke, VA writes:
I really think it is a great idea. I believe it would be a good rally point for the Economy making a comeback also. Additionally, I think Mrs. Reagan would approve. Thanks.
As far as minting a new coin, I recommend that you send your idea to your Members of Congress. Any changes to our currency will be decided by Congress, so the Administration will be in consultation with them should any specific ideas begin to move forward.
Peggy, from Houston, Texas
We are seeing broad-based, quality job creation throughout the economy and in virtually every sector, including traditionally high-paying sectors such as information, construction, financial activities, and professional and business services.
In your home state of Texas, nearly 112,000 jobs have been created since September of last year, over 74,000 this year alone.
Michael, from Marinette, Wisconsin writes:
I've visited Wausau, Green Bay, Milwaukee and Racine in your home state of Wisconsin since becoming Treasury Secretary. I've also visited Detroit, Michigan. And the President has been to Wisconsin eight times and to Michigan 14 times since taking office.
I was pleased to see that, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 11,400 new jobs were created in Wisconsin in June - and you've had 58,700 jobs created so far this year.
Under the President's tax cuts, more than 2.1 million taxpayers in Wisconsin will have lower tax bills in 2004. More than 3.6 million people will have lower tax bills in Michigan.
Keeping the tax burden low for the people of that region, and for the entire country, is a priority for the President. He knows that freeing small-businesses and individuals from excessive taxation is the key to growing our economy.
Shelia, from Dallas writes:
In the six months following September 11th the Bureau of Labor Statistics data shows that we lost more than 1.4 million jobs, which was the peak of the job loss period.
Not all of that job loss can be directly attributed to September 11th - our economy suffered from other blows as well, like the recession and corporate scandals - but the attacks certainly contributed to those numbers.
And you are right, that our recovery has been superb. The natural strength of a free-market system, when stimulated by well-planned and well-timed tax cuts, has never been more clear. America's economy is the envy of the world, and we should be very proud of our resilience following such profound acts of hatred.
As impressive as our recovery and growth has been, there are still Americans who seek jobs, which means there is more work to be done. I am confident that, with the President's terrific economic leadership, America's best economic days will be ahead of us.
ralph, from Scranton, Pa writes:
Care to comment?
It's almost as if we have recovered economically, but not emotionally, from the profound economic shocks our country went through in the recent past.
In fact, the speed and strength of our economic recovery was incredible - just a year ago economists worried about a double-dip recession and deflation and now we're seeing the strongest growth in 20 years - and maybe that is part of the reason why people don't seem to know; the strength of our economy came back with such velocity.
I am confident that an appreciation for our economic strength will return, and that sentiment will help ensure a strong economic future.
Frank, from Milwaukee, WI writes:
Those tax cuts will expire at the end of the year if Congress fails to act - resulting in a tax increase on low and middle-class Americans. Congress should extend the tax cuts and also make elimination of the punishing death tax - an outdated tax that hits small businesses and family farms especially hard - permanent.
The President is committed to allowing hard-working individuals and families keep more of their own money to help pay for their children's education, invest for retirement, and spend as they see fit.
Making these tax cuts permanent will help our economy to continue expanding at unprecedented levels of growth both now and in the future.
R.D., from Maryville, Tennessee writes:
Tragically, the attacks of September 11th, followed by the realization of corporate scandals and the bursting of the tech bubble dealt additional blows to the economy before the tax cuts were able to turn it around. We are fortunate that the President persisted with another round of tax cuts after we were dealt such hard economic blows.
His economic policies, combined with sound monetary policy which is in the capable hands of my terrific colleague Alan Greenspan, led us to a recovery. Today we are experiencing an economic expansion.
We've come a long way since the 2000 economic downturn. I appreciate the question, R.D.
Kelly, from Ocala, FL
But it would not be smart to be complacent about the economy, either. We can do better, and we will do better. There are still Americans looking for work, and more jobs need to be created to meet their needs.
I am confident that the economy will continue on an upward path, that long-lasting prosperity for America's families is in our future, and the President's economic leadership is a key ingredient for continued job creation and growth.
Mike, from Spokane, Wa
As Treasury Secretary, my job is to help the President grow the economy and create jobs, to direct tax policy and work with other nations to maintain sound global monetary policies.
The Treasury Department also contains several key government agencies that enable us to do everything from printing money to collecting taxes and paying the government's bills with that tax revenue.
David, from Nashville, TN
The most powerful elements of our economy are our small-business owners and entrepreneurs, our outstanding workforce and the simple fact that we operate as a free market. We are fortunate that our economy is more open, flexible, adaptive and resilient than any other in the world.
In terms of President Bush and the economy "on his watch," it is critical to remember that he inherited an economy in steep decline, and several substantial blows occurred early on in his administration: September 11th, the burst of the tech bubble, and realization of major corporate fraud.
The President has worked hard to be a positive influence on our economy, and I believe he has been very successful. His belief in the natural strength and resilience of our free-market system has been essential, and he has backed up that belief with tax cuts that have helped every American who pays taxes.
The tax relief acted as a stimulus because it reduced the burden of government, and whenever the load is lightened our economy tends to respond with growth and job creation... which is exactly what we are seeing today.
Jessica, from Arlington, VA
And thank you for asking a good question, Jessica. I addressed a similar question with Ross from Florida earlier, so I won't repeat myself entirely, but it is worth emphasizing that 12 million American jobs depend on exports and 6.4 million Americans receive paychecks from foreign-owned firms.
And while the loss of any American job is a concern for the President, and job creation at home is his top economic
priority, he strongly believes that openness, not isolationism, is best for our economy and for America's world-class
Marie, from C writes:
He has also made it clear that CEOs must conduct themselves with the highest ethics and be accountable to their employees and investors. If they commit fraud, they will be punished severely.
Today is the two-year anniversary of the President's Corporate Fraud Task Force, organized to combat corporate fraud and therefore protect investors and consumers from corrupt practices that are not worthy of our great free-market system.
Its creation, in addition to the signing of Sarbanes-Oxley, was part of the President's swift and effective response to the realization of corporate scandals in recent years. The President's actions to crack down on corporate fraud helped to restore investor confidence and bolstered our economic recovery.
Eugene, from Seat Pleasant writes:
Growth and prosperity occur almost organically in an environment that is conducive to entrepreneurship, one where the only thing that stands between an individual's marketable idea and true success is that individual's passion and desire to work hard and, of course, access to capital to finance the idea.
And we should never forget that jobs come from businesses that are successful, businesses that are growing, expanding and investing. This is why you'll often hear the President saying: "what is good for small business is good for America."
It's America's small-business entrepreneurs who are creating three out of four of our net new jobs - the critical element for any economy, anywhere, at any time.
Joe, from Chicago, Il
Remember that we are fighting a type of war that we have never fought before. We are fighting an enemy that requires a much broader variety of government resources than anything we've ever confronted. And we began this fight when we were economically wounded.
We believe that we can achieve what the President's budget calls for, and we call on Congress to pass that budget. Josh Bolten, director of the Office of Management and Budget, designed a sound budget plan that would reduce the deficit by half over the next five years.
Making the tax cuts permanent is an important part of deficit reduction because lower taxes have stimulated our economy so effectively. A growing economy leads to increased Treasury receipts, and when combined with restrained spending, deficits can be shrunk.
Thank you so much for all of your terrific questions. If you want to hear more about our economy today, don't miss Chairman Alan Greenspan's testimony on Capitol Hill.