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.
Good afternoon, and welcome to "Ask the White House." I'm joining this discussion today from Independence, Missouri - the "Show Me State," where I've been talking with local business leaders about the economy. The spirit of entrepreneurship is strong here in Missouri! I'm looking forward to answering your questions; let's get started.
Michael, from Boston writes:
We have already seen recent progress, as our growing economy is increasing Treasury receipts. Now we need Congress to adopt the President's budget, which will cut the deficit in half over the next five years, bringing it to a historically low level in relation to Gross Domestic Product (GDP).
Spending restraint is part of the President's plan, and I agree with you that spending is an equally important part of the budget deficit equation.
But at the time when we needed tax cuts to stimulate our economy, we also had the need to fight a war unlike any that had ever been fought in history: the war on terror. 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.
What's most important to remember is that we will be able to fight this war and climb out of the deficit. We can manage this deficit, and we can cut it in half over the next five years by controlling spending and growing our economy.
Stephen, from Colorado Springs writes:
The President's economic leadership has contributed to one of the strongest years of GDP growth in 20 years, and this growing economy has created 1.7 million new jobs over the past year.
Homeownership is at an all-time high, consumer confidence is strong and even the hard-hit manufacturing sector is generating jobs. All of our underlying fundamentals are strong.
Of course there is more to do - we won't be satisfied until every American who is seeking work can find a job - but if we continue to move forward with the President's pro-growth policies, there is no doubt in my mind that we will continue on this positive path and America's best economic days are ahead of us.
Again, while we are encouraged by the direction the economy is going, we are still not satisfied.
Bill, from Atlantic City writes:
The new law also helps families by extending the marriage penalty relief and the expanded 10 percent tax bracket. In 2003, when the child tax credit was increased by $400, checks were sent to taxpayers so they could use that money immediately.
This year you will not receive a check, however, you will receive the full $1,000 credit when you file your taxes in April.
Tim, from Denver writes:
The President's tax cuts stimulated our economy, so Treasury receipts are now on the rise. The tax cuts helped individuals, families and small businesses - everyone who pays taxes received a tax cut - and that led to an economic recovery that was impressive after the devastating blows we had received.
As you mentioned, the stock market bubble bust combined with the shock of 9/11 resulted in a market loss of $7 trillion in 2001. That's more than the GDPs of Italy, France and Germany combined.
Extra, unexpected spending was necessary after the terrorist attacks. The President made an unprecedented $20 billion commitment to New York to rebuild after 9/11 and he is making good on that commitment. The Pentagon received $17 billion in post-9/11 emergency funding, of which $1.34 billion went to Pentagon reconstruction.
Thanks to tax cuts, sound monetary policy from the Federal Reserve, and the incredible resiliency of our small businesses and outstanding workforce, America came back from significant economic adversity.
Today, GDP growth is the highest in 20 years and the economy has created 1.7 million new jobs over the past year. Homeownership is at an all-time high. Our economy has recovered and is strong today, and we need to continue growing so that every American who is looking for work can find a job.
Alfonzo, from Maine writes:
While we can do better, and will do better... I think we are doing better than you realize.
For example, unemployment is actually lower today than the average rates of the 70s, 80s and 90s. The President's economic leadership has contributed to one of the strongest years of GDP growth in 20 years, and this growing economy has created 1.7 million new jobs over the past year.
Homeownership is at an all-time high, consumer confidence is strong and even the hard-hit manufacturing sector is generating jobs. While we won't be satisfied until every American who is seeking work can find a job, if we continue to move forward with the President's pro-growth policies, there is no doubt in my mind that we will continue on this positive path and America's best economic days are ahead of us.
Tina, from North Platte, Nebraska writes:
The President's tax cuts were for every American who pays income taxes, and tax rates were reduced in every tax bracket, top to bottom. In fact, higher income individuals are now paying a higher percentage of total individual income taxes.
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.
The fact is that the President's tax cuts have made it so that those in the upper brackets are paying more of our nation's share of taxes than they did before.
I'm sorry to hear that people in your area are still facing difficulty when it comes to finding new jobs. The national economy is creating jobs steadily, and we need to continue to keep taxes low and growth levels high so that the pinch is relieved on every American who is looking for work and can't find it. I'm optimistic that our economy will continue to improve if we stick to pro-growth policies. I wish you and your neighbors the best.
Rosanne, from Illinois writes:
First, you and your husband will have relief from the unfair marriage penalty, which taxes you just because you are married. You also will be able to keep more of your hard earned money because of the expansion of the 10% tax bracket.
The full $1,000 per child tax credit will be available to you and your family through 2010. As a middle-class taxpayer, you and your family are provided greater protection from the Alternative Minimum Tax Relief by the larger exemption (i.e., the first $58,000 of a married couple's income).
The "Working Families Tax Relief Act of 2004" also helps simplify the tax code by providing clear direction for families who qualify for the child tax credit, the Earned Income Tax Credit, the dependent care tax credit, the dependent exemption and those who file as the head of household.
Adam, from Appleton writes:
This growth is the underlying reason for high prices today. The U.S. Congress - specifically the Senate - needs to pass the President's energy plan to make progress on this issue.
The President sent his energy plan to Congress 3 years ago, and had Congress passed it then we would be in far better shape today. The President's plan - which is based on increased domestic energy production, investments in technology, boosting renewables, and increasing efficiency - will make us less dependent on foreign oil, and will also create lots of good jobs for Americans.
We regularly hold discussions with both OPEC and non-OPEC producers from around the world about actions they can take to support the growing U.S. and world economy.
As you've heard from Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, and other OPEC members, producers are committed to providing adequate supplies to the market, including producing more oil if necessary. We look to producers to fulfill these pledges.
Dona, from Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin
On the broader issue, Dona, of Social Security, President Bush is committed to ensuring that the promise of Social Security is kept for current seniors and those nearing retirement - and that we fix the Social Security system for our children and grandchildren.
The President will work with Congress to determine the best elements of the proposals that have been put forward, according to these principles: President Bush will not change benefits for today's retirees or near-retirees; he wants to see Social Security permanently strengthened for our children and grandchildren, without raising payroll taxes; the President favors voluntary personal accounts for younger workers that provide ownership, choice, and the opportunity for workers to build a nest egg for their retirement and to pass on to their spouse or their children; those who do not choose to have a personal account would continue to draw their benefits as they always have from the Federal Social Security program.
Josh, from Arkansas writes:
Terrorism is a real threat that we all experienced on 9/11. The President has said that when it comes to fighting the War on Terror and protecting the Homeland, we're going to spend what we need to in order to win....but we haven't spent $4 trillion.
In fact, the entire Federal government this year will only spend about $2.4 trillion. What we have done is made available the resources to support our troops in the field, strengthen our homeland defenses, train and equip our first responders and improve our ability to disrupt terrorist threats. President Bush has done all of that while putting us on track to cutting the deficit in half within five years. He has done that through tax relief that is getting our economy growing again, which means more people with jobs and more Federal revenue (see my answer to Tim's question, from Colorado).
He has also reduced the growth in Federal spending. Discretionary spending unrelated to Defense and Homeland Security grew by 15% in the last year of the previous Administration; President Bush's Fiscal Year 2005 budget proposed to let it grow by less than 1%, which still allows for substantial increases for education, Veterans' medical care, job training and other domestic policy priorities. That is how we will get our fiscal house back in order following the recession and attacks of 9/11.
Denese, from Euless, TX writes:
Not knowing all of your economic specifics, it is difficult to say exactly what your tax liability will be this year, but you will definitely be paying fewer federal taxes than you were before the President's tax cuts. Every American who pays taxes received a tax cut thanks to the President's economic policies.