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Excerpts from the Press Briefing by Scott McClellan, September 9, 2003 (Full Transcript)QUESTION: Scott, some Democrats are saying that the administration needs -- they're going to look at, the administration needs to look at the tax cuts, delaying -- or suspending the tax cuts in order to pay for the extra $87 billion. What's the White House position on that?
MR. McCLELLAN: Well, the worst thing we could do for our economy right now is to raise taxes. Remember, we went through some extraordinary circumstances. The President inherited a recession. Then we had the attacks of September 11th, and then we had the corporate scandals. So there were unprecedented strains placed on our economy and placed on the budget. And the President acted to get us out of the recession and get the economy growing, and getting more money into people's pockets was the exact right policy to take. And the last thing we should do at this point is raise taxes.
QUESTION: Does that also include suspending planned decreases?
MR. McCLELLAN: I'm sorry?
QUESTION: Does that also include -- does your comment also refer to suspending decreases -- planned tax cuts?
MR. McCLELLAN: Again, and all this is outlined in our budget, the President's budget includes making the tax cuts permanent, which is important to provide certainty to the American people. And we'll help -- will only help strengthen our economy more and help create more jobs. So that's important. The budget sets clear priorities and funds those priorities, and then it make sure -- it make sure that we hold the line on spending on other non-defense related item. We have significantly slowed the growth in non-defense related spending since the President took office.
QUESTION: So you're really not doing anything to --
MR. McCLELLAN: -- two things here. One --
QUESTION: -- making the taxes --
MR. McCLELLAN: We have to have strong pro-growth policies. We have to put strong pro-growth policies in place and meet our highest priorities -- winning the war on terrorism, protecting the American people -- and then hold the line on spending elsewhere in the budget.
QUESTION: Scott, the $87 billion package, there's a big gap between the $20 billion for reconstruction that you guys are asking for and the $50-$75 billion that you say will be needed. If other countries don't kick in that money and if oil revenues don't help that, what would you say to people who are afraid that this investment is just going to balloon the deficit even more?
MR. McCLELLAN: We expect that they will. So, we are --
QUESTION: Are you certain?
MR. McCLELLAN: -- we are working closely with the international community to broaden participation from nations beyond the more than 30 that are already participating in Iraq, both in terms of helping with security and helping with financial assistance, because this is about the people of Iraq and the future for the people of Iraq.
We are also working to -- in fact, a good portion of this emergency spending request will go towards improving the infrastructure. In addition to improving security, it will go towards improving the infrastructure, which will -- and when we improve the basic infrastructure, that will help the Iraq economy turn around, which will provide more resources for the future of Iraq.