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 Home > News & Policies > April 2003

For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
April 15, 2003

President Discusses the Economy with Small Business Owners
The Rose Garden

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     Fact sheet Fact Sheet: Strengthening America's Economy
     Fact sheet In Focus: Small Business
     Fact sheet In Focus: Jobs and Economy

11:16 A.M. EDT

THE PRESIDENT: Christine, thanks for the kind words, thank you for being an entrepreneur who was encouraging to your fellow workers to serve their country. You represent a lot of bosses across this country who encouraged the Reservists or the Guard who made sure there was a job available when they came home and, at the same time, supported their family. And I want to thank you very much for that.

President George W. Bush discusses the economy in the Rose Garden Tuesday, April 15, 2003. Accompanying President Bush on stage are, from left, small business owners Tim Barrett, Christine Bierman, Frank Fillmore and Karla Aaron.  White House photo by Paul Morse I want to welcome you all to the Rose Garden. It is a beautiful day. It's a beautiful day for our country, too. We've got troops still fighting in Iraq, and our nation takes great pride in the men and women who wear our country's uniform and who sacrifice for security and peace. (Applause.) The world has seen their skill and their courage and their humanity. They bring security to our country and, at the same time, bring freedom to the Iraqi people. (Applause.)

I appreciate the chance to meet with small business leaders from around our country to discuss the challenges facing our economy. The small business folks in America, the entrepreneurs represent one of the great strengths of this country: the spirit of free enterprise, the willingness to take risks, the hard work required to move this economy forward.

Small business owners and employees understand that this economy has a great deal of unmet potential. The American people have all the talent to meet that potential, and that's why I'm so optimistic about the future for our economy.

The nation needs quick action by our Congress on a pro-growth economic package. We need tax relief totaling at least $550 billion to make sure our economy grows. (Applause.) And American workers and American businesses need every bit of that relief now so that people who want to find a job can find one, so that people that are looking for work are able to put food on the table for their families.

I want to thank Christine for coming. I appreciate the fact that she is the CEO of her own business. We just had a roundtable discussion in the Roosevelt Room, and one of the things I love -- told the folks there I loved about America was the fact that somebody can own their own business, that ours is an ownership society. I think that's one of things that makes America so unique is the entrepreneurial spirit and the drive by people from all walks of life to start their own business, succeed with their own business. And at the same time, it's that drive that makes it likely somebody is going to find work.

I appreciate Karla Aaron, who's with us, as well, Hialeah Metal Spinning from South Florida. And I want to thank Tim Barrett who is the owner of Wood World. Tim said he's got -- he's about as small a business unit as you can get. He's got four employees. I said, well it's four times bigger than the smallest. (Laughter.) And I appreciate Frank Fillmore as the president of the Fillmore Group. Thank you all for standing up here, as well.

Steve Anderson was with us today, who is the head of the National Restaurant Association. His association represents all kinds of entrepreneurs. The restaurant industry is a great place for people to get their start in achieving the American Dream.

Sal Gomez was here representing the Denver Hispanic Chamber of Commerce. The most interesting statistics about the entrepreneurial spirit is the number of Hispanic small businesses that are flourishing in our country. It's one of the great tributes to America and our open society.

I appreciate so very much Tom Donohue, who is the head of the U.S. Chamber, for joining us today. Jerry Jasinowski is the head of the National Association of Manufacturers is with us. Karen Kerrigan is the Small Business Survival Committee -- that's a pretty good name. (Laughter.) Tom Musser is the National Federation of Independent Businesses, NFIB. And Terry Neese is Women Impacting Public Policy, joined us at our discussion in the Roosevelt Room. Bill Parsley of Carswell Distributing Company. Dirk Van Dongen, who is my good buddy, who represents the National Association of Wholesaler Distributors. And Melanie Sabelhaus, who represents the Small Business Administration. We had a great discussion. I want to thank you all for joining us there and I appreciate everybody else coming today, as well.

On the first day of the new Congress more than three months ago, I spoke to the business leaders in Chicago, Illinois. I described two great and immediate tasks facing our country: first, to meet the dangers to America wherever they gather; and, secondly, to achieve a vigorous and growing economy. Those remain the highest priorities of my administration. And there's no doubt we're going to meet those priorities.

This government is acting to protect the American people from the threats of a new era. In Iraq, the regime of Saddam Hussein is no more. (Applause.) A month ago -- one month ago -- that country was a prison to its people, a haven for terrorists, an arsenal of weapons that endangered the world. Today, the world is safer. The terrorists have lost an ally. The Iraqi people are regaining control of their own destiny. These are good days in the history of freedom. (Applause.)

Our victory in Iraq is certain, but it is not complete. Centralized power of the dictator has ended -- yet, in parts of Iraq, desperate and dangerous elements remain. Forces of our coalition will engage these enemies until they surrender or until they're destroyed. (Applause.) We have waged this war with determination and with clarity of purpose. And we will see it through until the job is done.

As we press on to liberate every corner of Iraq, we are beginning the difficult work of helping Iraqis to build a free and stable country. The immediate tasks involve establishing order, as well as delivering food and water and medicines. We'll help Iraqis to restore electrical power and other basic services. We'll help destroy the former regime's weapons of mass destruction. We'll help the Iraqi people to establish a just and representative government, which respects human rights and adheres to the rule of law. These tasks will take effort, and these tasks will take time. But I have faith in the Iraqi people, and I believe that a free Iraq can be an example of reform and progress to all the Middle East. (Applause.)

Our victory in Iraq will be a crucial advance in the war against terror. Yet, the war on terror continues. Our nation is still threatened by determined and resourceful enemies. The proliferation of weapons of mass destruction remains a danger to the civilized world. Yet from the very day our country was attacked, we have sent a clear message to all who would threaten us, and our friends, and our allies. The United States of America, and our coalition, will defend ourselves. When we make a pledge, we mean it. We keep our word; and what we begin, we will finish. (Applause.)

Another great priority of the government is to encourage prosperity and the creation of jobs for all who seek them. Here in Washington, we're now determining the size and the shape of a package to promote growth in jobs. It's not "if" we have a package, it's how big will the package be. The "if" is over with. In this debate, the goal is not to set arbitrary numbers for that package. The goal is to determine what our economy needs, what small businesses need, what workers need. And then to take actions necessary to meet those needs. The proposals I announced three months ago were designed to address specific weaknesses slowing down our economy and keeping companies from hiring new workers. Those weaknesses remain today.

All of you know that economic and job growth will come when consumers buy more goods and services from businesses such as your own. And the best and fairest way to make sure Americans can do that is to grant them immediate tax relief so they have more of their own money to spend or save. (Applause.)

In 2001, the Congress passed broad tax reductions in income taxes. And promised much of this tax relief for future years. With the economy as it is, the American people need that relief right away. The tax cuts are good enough for the American taxpayers three or five or seven years from now, they are even better today. (Applause.)

Instead of lowering taxes little by little, the Congress should do it all at once and give our economy the boost it needs. Instead of gradually reducing the marriage penalty, we should do it now. (Applause.) Instead of slowly raising the child credit from $600 to $1,000, we should do it now. (Applause.) And we should send the extra $400 per child to American families this year, 2003.

All together, these tax reductions will help 92 million Americans. And a significant part of the benefit to our economy will come within the first two years of the plan. A family of four with an income of $40,000 would receive a 96 percent reduction in federal income taxes. Instead of paying $1,178 per year, the family would pay $45 a year. (Applause.) That means extra money in the family budget year after year. That money can cover a lot of bills. That money can help families with purchases they have been delaying. That money will be in circulation, which will be good for our economy. (Applause.)

And this plan will help our small business sector. The benefits of the growth plan will come from increased consumer spending and, as importantly, from lower income tax rates on the small businesses, themselves. (Applause.) It is important for our fellow citizens to understand that most small businesses pay their business taxes at the individual rates. Most small businesses are sole proprietorships, or limited partnerships, subchapter S's.

And, therefore, when you reduce individual tax rates, you benefit small business formation. As a matter of fact, under this plan, some 23 million small business owners will see their taxes cut, which leaves more money for investment, more money for growth, more money for job creation. A growing economy also needs small business investment, and our tax code should encourage investment. Today, a small business can deduct a maximum of $25,000 in the year in which they buy equipment. We need to triple the amount that can be deducted in the year in which they buy equipment. (Applause.)

So I proposed to Congress that they ought to limit -- the limit ought to be increased to $75,000, and that limit ought to be indexed to inflation. By doing so, we promote greater investment in machinery, and when a small business buys a machine, it enhances their company's productivity. As well, it means the machinery manufacturer is likely to have more work available. More investment equals jobs, and what we're interested in in this administration is helping people who look for work find a job. (Applause.)

We can also promote economic growth and job creation by removing the double tax on dividends. (Applause.) Taxing corporate income once is fair. It is not fair for the federal government to tax the same money twice. The burden of double taxation falls on the millions of individuals who receive dividends. It falls especially hard on seniors, who receive half of all dividend income.

The removal of double taxation will put more money into the hands of investors, it would encourage more investment in American businesses. Economists say that this plan will help our stock markets. And since half of American families own stock, the reform will help them save and help our economy grow.

Now, these measures were presented to the Congress in the first week of this year. The pro-growth package was urgent in January, it's even more urgent today. (Applause.) It is important for you all to understand and for our fellow Americans to understand, the tax relief I have proposed and will push for until enacted -- (applause) -- will create 1.4 million new jobs by the end of 2004. (Applause.)

In two year's time, this nation has experienced war, a recession and a national emergency, which has caused our government to run a deficit. The best way to reduce the deficit is with more growth in our economy, which means more revenues to our Treasury and less spending in Washington, D.C. (Applause.)

I am pleased that both the House and the Senate have passed budget resolutions that show real spending restraint. And now the Congress must focus on a robust and effective growth package. We need at least $550 billion in that package because the more tax relief that goes to the American people, the more jobs we will create in this economy. (Applause.)

The last few months have been a time of challenge for America. Our resolve has been tested. Yet, we have the great resources of national strength and national character to overcome every challenge we face. Our confidence and our optimism have never wavered. We are defending the peace of the world. We're bringing freedom to corners of the world that haven't seen freedom in years. We're also building the prosperity of our country.

This is a unique moment in our history, and the American people are rising to meet it.

I want to thank each of you for your hard work. I want to thank each of you for the faith you have shown in this country's future. May God bless you, and may God continue to bless America. Thank you, all. (Applause.)

END 11:37 A.M. EDT