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For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
September 6, 2004
Press Gaggle by Scott McClellan
Aboard Air Force One
En Route Poplar Bluff, Missouri
4:45 P.M. EDT
MR. McCLELLAN: Okay, let me give you a couple of updates on the President's day. This morning the President called Prime Minister Gross, of the Czech Republic, to congratulate him on assuming his new position. The President said he looks forward to working with him in his new position and meeting with him in the future. The President thanked the Prime Minister -- well, first, the two leaders talked about the importance of working together to defeat the ideologies of hatred in places like Afghanistan and Iraq. And the President thanked the Prime Minister for the strong support shown by the Czech Republic to help the Iraqi people build a free and peaceful future.
Following the phone call, the President had his usual briefings. He also has continued to receive updates on Hurricane Frances and our response efforts there, as well as updates on Hurricane Ivan. Then, as you are aware, he went mountain bike riding.
And a short time ago on the plane, the President signed a letter to Speaker Hastert, this is for the emergency supplemental request we are sending to Congress. This is a request of Congress to immediately consider and pass a supplemental emergency request of approximately $2 billion for urgent needs associated with Hurricanes Charley and Frances in Florida and other affected areas. We previously announced that we would be doing this, and now the President is sending that to Speaker Hastert. This will enable FEMA to continue their response and recovery efforts uninterrupted, and enable FEMA to respond to additional disasters that may occur. We also anticipate making an additional request in the coming days, as well.
Q Additional --
MR. McCLELLAN: Additional funding requests in the coming days, related to the hurricanes.
And, let's see, the President has got his rally tonight in Poplar Bluff, Missouri. And that's what I've got on his day.
Q Can I ask about the -- you had said $2 million before, after Charley. Is there going to be additional money for Frances?
MR. McCLELLAN: Approximately $2 billion. Yes, we are -- yes, that's why I said that we do -- he says this in the letter, we do anticipate making an additional request in the coming days, as well. But this is an emergency request asking Congress to move quickly to pass this so that the response and recovery efforts proceed uninterrupted.
Q So it's both for Charley and Frances, this money here?
MR. McCLELLAN: Yes. Yes, it will be used for both. I mean, obviously, the response teams continue to respond to both these disasters.
Q Can you give us a sense of how much over $2 billion it might go, once you put in this additional request?
MR. McCLELLAN: No. like I said, we'll do that in the coming days.
Q So what's the --
MR. McCLELLAN: We'll have a more comprehensive assessment of needs.
Q The additional money would be also for Charley and Frances recovery?
MR. McCLELLAN: Yes, it will be related to these disasters. The immediate request is to make sure that the response and recovery efforts continue uninterrupted.
Q Can you give us a little preview about tomorrow?
MR. McCLELLAN: Sorry?
Q Can you preview tomorrow?
MR. McCLELLAN: He's going to continue to campaign in Missouri tomorrow. I mean, no, there's not much else to preview right now. We can do that in the morning, probably.
Q Why those specific stops, though, Scott? Why those specific stops tomorrow?
MR. McCLELLAN: In Missouri?
MR. McCLELLAN: Well -- and the campaign might be able to talk to you more about why they scheduled these specific stops -- but, obviously, Missouri is a competitive state and the President is campaigning there because he wants to carry Missouri in November, and we expect we will.
Q Will he talk about the job numbers in Missouri?
MR. McCLELLAN: He's going to continue to talk about the economy and the sustained job growth that we're seeing because of the policies that we've taken. I think if you look at the unemployment rate, you know, now down to 5.4 percent, that shows that the economy is continuing to move in the right direction and move forward. We've seen some 1.7 million jobs created over the last year, and the President will continue to talk about the importance of making sure that America is the best place in the world to do business.
Obviously, there are some places where people are still hurting and looking for work, and the President wants to continue to build upon the policies that we have implemented so that everybody who is looking for a job can find work.
Q Is a flat tax one of the options that you guys are considering for the tax reform that Bush is going to be talking about?
MR. McCLELLAN: Well, actually, as you heard from the campaign, the President will be talking more about the tax code today and the importance of making it simpler and fairer. We have already taken steps to do so through the actions -- through the initiatives that we previously passed. We eliminated the death tax, gets rid of some 90 pages in the tax code, right there. By passing the tax cuts, we made the federal income tax burden more fair. And if you look back at the fact sheet that we put out to go along with the President's convention speech, there will be a bipartisan panel appointed by the President to look at all the options and make recommendations to the Treasury Secretary. We want to make sure -- the goal is a simpler and fairer system, and the President will request that those options be revenue neutral that we pursue. But you've heard him address those questions, and so we should look at all the options that will make the tax code simpler and fairer, and make it less complicated.
Q Last year -- last year on Labor Day, he announced the manufacturing czar position. Is he going to do anything similar today?
MR. McCLELLAN: Well, he's talking about tax reform today and the importance of reforming the tax code and making it simpler. That's what he's talking -- that's one of the things that he will focus on in his remarks.
Q What ever happened to the manufacturing czar, though? Was that -- was he able to help nurture manufacturing jobs?
MR. McCLELLAN: Well, I think you've seen manufacturing activity has been on the increase. You're seeing jobs created in the manufacturing sector now for the last several months. The economic recovery that is underway has been broad-based and we're seeing job growth across the economy.
Q Was the President invited by the people of Poplar to come?
MR. McCLELLAN: Actually, yes, he was. I guess that's how it initially started. There was a petition drive -- and the campaign might be able to talk to you a little bit more about the specifics of it -- by a couple of residents in Poplar Bluff. And so the President is pleased that he's able to go there today and talk to them about his agenda for the future and the clear choices that we face in this election.
Q Why only one stop today?
MR. McCLELLAN: Why only one stop today? Well, I mean, he's been tending to other business. You might ask the campaign -- I don't know if there's any other reason. He's going to be campaigning throughout the day tomorrow.
Q I know you talked about the national job figures, but in light of the fact that, unlike other states where you've had job growth, net growth, in Missouri there's job losses for the last month. Is he specifically going to talk about the needs of Missouri and how to change the economic conditions?
MR. McCLELLAN: You'll be there to hear his remarks, Suzanne, today and tomorrow. As I said, he -- there is more to do to keep our economy growing and moving in the right direction. Like I said, we're seeing sustained job growth over the last year. The policies that the President has implemented are working, and he will continue to talk about the importance of making sure that everyone who is looking for work can find a job. But you'll be there to cover his remarks today and tomorrow.
Q I was just wondering about Wednesday and Thursday. It's still TBD on the schedule, TBA. Is there any update on that?
MR. McCLELLAN: We are planning to go to Florida on Wednesday.
MR. McCLELLAN: Yes. They're still working on the details on that.
Q Will he go directly from Missouri, or will we go back to D.C.?
MR. McCLELLAN: I suspect we'll be back -- we'll be back in D.C. tomorrow night, and we would leave from D.C. But we're still working on -- we're still working on all the details and finalizing the schedule.
Q The trip will come back to Washington afterwards?
MR. McCLELLAN: Yes.
Q Later in the week, Scott? TBD the rest of the week?
MR. McCLELLAN: I'll get you Thursday's schedule as it's finalized.
Q Is there travel on Thursday?
MR. McCLELLAN: Yes, we are traveling Thursday.
Q Also, about a year ago --
MR. McCLELLAN: We should be getting out the rest of the schedule for Thursday soon.
Q It was last Labor Day also when the administration started pushing China to revalue its currency, and Bush, in speeches on -- I think it was Saturday and Sunday -- mentioned China by name. Why are you pushing China again? Are you satisfied with the actions they've taken in the last year since the President started pushing on this issue?
MR. McCLELLAN: Well, there's more to do. We've seen some steps taken by China, but the President wants to make sure that we have free trade with a level playing field. So you've heard him talk about the importance of free and fair trade, and he will continue to talk about the importance of free trade to creating jobs here at home. Because when you open up markets abroad, it creates -- it helps create jobs here at home. We believe American workers can compete with anyone in the world, and it's important that there be a level playing field. And we've urged China to take a number of steps, and they have taken -- they have taken some steps. There's more we'd like to see them do.
Anything else? Thank you.
END 4:57 P.M. EDT
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