For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
March 1, 2001
Remarks by the Press Secretary to the Travel Pool
En Route Lakewood Elementary School
North Little Rock, Arkansas
MR. FLEISCHER: Let's begin the mobile gaggle. The President's first stop is Lakewood Elementary School, in North Little Rock, where he will participate in a Leadership Forum on improving education, which will be -- get used to it -- he's always focused on education throughout his presidency.
Lakewood is a very mixed elementary school, grades K through 5. They do annual testing, something the President very much believes in. And 4th grade reading scores in 1998 to 2000 are 50 percent higher than the district level and at least 20 percent higher than the state level. So the President will come here to tour the school, visit, give remarks, and praise the school board's testing program.
He'll be joined here also by a tax family, and those are the Bensons -- Stephen, Shelia. Stephen works for Alltel. He was previously employed at Wal-Mart. His wife, Shelia, works at the Shoe Carnival. They have a total family income of $56,000. They currently pay $4,620 in income taxes. Under the President's plan, the Bensons will pay $2,910 in taxes, a savings of $1,710, for a 37 percent tax cut as a result of the new 10 percent bracket, doubling the child credit, and marriage penalty relief.
They have two children -- I should have mentioned this, Stephen II, who attends Lakewood Elementary School, and a daughter, LaCheidra. I don't have their ages, but they're both in elementary school. One is at Lakewood Elementary, the other is at Lakewood East.
I should note that in St. Louis I saw this -- it's interesting, wherever we go and talk about the tax families -- at least in St. Louis, I haven't seen Nebraska's papers yet -- there was a giant front-page story about that family in the St. Louis papers that day.
Then we'll go to Atlanta, Georgia, and the President will be there to highlight his budget, at the Fern Bank Museum of Natural History -- Fern Bank -- not to be confused with the flowers that were in front of his room last night. It will be similar to Nebraska and other large-style events, to highlight his tax relief plan, and pay down the debt plan, entire budget plan.
He'll be joined by a series of local officials, elected officials, members of Congress. And then he will visit Georgia Health Care -- then he'll have a visit at Children's Health Care of Atlanta at the Aflack Cancer Center, where he'll talk about his budget plan and his address to Congress to fund priorities. Here he'll talk about health care, doubling the money for the NIH, a $2.8 billion increase in spending for the NIH, doubling the number of people who will be served in community health centers, doubling the funding for Medicare over the next 10 years. The $2.8 billion is the installment for the next fiscal year.
Q Part of the five-year bipartisan plan that has already long been --
MR. FLEISCHER: Precisely. And that's the event in Atlanta -- the two events in Atlanta. There will also be a tax family in Atlanta that joins him, and that family will be the Riedels -- I'm sorry, that's not the tax family. That's the family that will be joining him -- there will be several families joining him who are cancer survivors. It's the Riedels, Vickie, Joe, Ansley who is 13 -- that's the cancer survivor -- and her younger brother Joseph.
Ansley was diagnosed with leukemia, ALL, a very rare form of leukemia, at 10 months of age. She went to the -- hospital in Atlanta for treatment. Her family was told that her chances of survival were actually very well and she participated in a research study. As part of the study she had a bone marrow transplant and cancer chemotherapy. It was completed December 1988. She was rediagnosed in March of 1989. She underwent 18 months of aggressive chemotherapy and it was completed in November of 1990. She had more than 35 admissions to the hospital. And the President will be with her today --
Q Will he mention his sister?
MR. FLEISCHER: That's not in his prepared remarks.
He will also be joined by the DeWilde family, cancer survivors -- mother Cynthia, father Joel. Joseph DeWilde, 4 years old, cancer patient. Josh DeWilde, 18 years old, and Brittany DeWilde, 16 years old. The DeWildes also have a foster baby who is 10 months old who will not be with them at the time. And Joseph was diagnosed with leukemia in 1999 and is now in the maintenance phase of a 3-year protocol treatment plan. He requires chemo and a daily pill, a weekly chemo shot and a bimonthly injection of chemo to his spinal canal. They are a very religious family.
He will also be joined by a tax family, the Winfields -- Tommy, Sharen and their three children, 13-year-old daughter Destiny, 10-year-old daughter Amber, and 16-year-old son Ager. The Winfields have a total family income of $41,000. They currently pay $1,380 in federal income taxes. Under the President's plan their entire income tax liability would be eliminated. They'd be one of the 6 million families totally removed from the income tax rolls, thanks to the President's plan.
The father is an operating engineer at Children's Health Care of Atlanta, and the mother is a regional sales coordinator for High Mark Life Insurance Company. When I say this tax cut benefits low-income people the most, this will have the biggest change in their lives. If you give a tax cut 10 times the size to an upper-income family, it won't change their lives nearly as much as it will for a family who lives paycheck to paycheck, who all of a sudden now will have $1,382 in their pockets. And they'll have more options, more new things to do in life as a result of the tax cut.
Q On the NIH funding, do you know what year of the five years --
MR. FLEISCHER: Let me look in my book, it's in the budget book. I think it's year four. Let me check.
The President will be met by Nancy Coverdell, the widow of Senator Paul Coverdell, on arrival. And then we will have Representative Cynthia McKinney, Representative Sanford Bishop, Representative John Lewis, Representative Johnny Isaacson, Bob Barr, Representative Nathan Deal, Representative Charlie Norwood with him. And some will be with him for the whole day, some are going to depart and then rejoin. Some will be likely with him on the flight back to Washington.