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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.

Today's guest: John Snow, Secretary of the Treasury

Secretary of Treasury, John Snow
Secretary of Treasury, John Snow
May 28, 2003

Secretary Snow was incorrectly identified as yesterday's guest, Dr. Joe O'Neill earlier in the online discussion. We apologize for the confusion.

John Snow
Good afternoon, thanks for joining me on "Ask the White House." I am looking forward to taking your questions. While I have been on the job for less than four months, given today's historic news, I can't think of a better day to host this discussion, and since the President is going to sign into law the economic jobs and growth package about two hours from now, lets get right to it.

Sam, from Fort Washington, PA writes:
The 350 billion tax cut is much less than the President asked for. Will it be enough to help stimulate the economy?

John Snow
The historic agreement between the House and the Senate on the President's Jobs and Growth Plan is a great victory for hardworking Americans. This will give the economy the boost it needs to grow and create jobs so that millions of Americans can be more secure and confident, both now and in the future. With agreement on President Bush's Jobs and Growth plan, the elements are there for the economy to continue its recovery in the second half of the year. This legislation puts us on a strong growth path.

John, from Rocky Mount, NC writes:
My wife and I make about 41,000 a year total. We have two kids -- 3 and 4 years old. How much can we expect to save under the tax bill?

John Snow
Dear Rocky Mount - a married couple with two children and income of $40,000 will see their taxes decline under the Jobs and Growth Tax Relief Reconciliation Act of 2003 by $1,133 (from $1,178 to $45) in 2003, a decline of 96 percent.

Mary, from Denver, CO writes:
How big is your office?

John Snow
It is a bigger office than I ever thought I would have. It is big enough for 8 people to meet. It has a couch and four chairs and a wonderful portrait of Alexander Hamilton on the wall. I would say it is 30 feet by 20 feet with very high ceilings.

Stanley, from Seattle writes:
You have described the economy as soggy. What do you mean by that? I am from Seattle, and it's soggy here.

John Snow
I have been to Seattle on a number of occasions and sometimes it is rainy and soggy but the sun is often out and the skies are clear as well. Soggy means "hard to get traction" -- the economy, while recovering, is not recovering at a fast enough pace. With the President's jobs and growth bill which will be signed today, I think we will see the economy firming up.

Andy, from Wisconsin writes:
Are the capitol gains tax cuts in this plan retroactive, and if so, how far?

John Snow
The new capital gains rates which reduce taxes from 20 percent to 15 percent apply to all transactions after May 6. This will be a nice boost to capital markets generally.

Christine, from Portsmouth, NH writes:
Specifically how will this plan help small businesses?

John Snow
The plan will help small business in two very important respects. First, most small businesses pay their taxes on their 1099. 23 million small businesses, in fact. With the lower tax rates, under the legislation, all of these businesses will get a sizable tax reduction. That means those businesses become more profitable with more after-tax earnings. In addition, small businesses will be able to expense an additional 75 thousand dollars a year of their investments. This will encourage small businesses to invest and grow.

Chris, from Ventura, CA writes:
One of the parts of this bill that I was strongly for what the raise of the child credit from 600 to 1000. Why is it also in the bill to bring that credit down to 500 in 2011?

John Snow
We couldn't fix all the tax reductions we were seeking into the budget rules and therefore some of the reductions are sunset. Let me assure you that the President is committed to avoiding future tax increases on the American people.

Jay, from Arlington, VA writes:
Beside what is in the tax bill, do you plan to correct the AMT to where middle income earners are not affected by it?

John Snow
You raise a good question with the AMT. It is a looming problem for American taxpayers and must be addressed. Unless addressed properly it would lead to a big tax increase on American taxpayers. We intend to work with Congress to see that this doesn't happen.

Elizabeth writes:
Do you know the white house address?

John Snow
Yes I do Elizabeth, its 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue Northwest. I work next door, at the Treasury Department, and our address is 1500 Pennsylvania Avenue Northwest. We are neighbors.

Hayley, from Las Vegas writes:
Just wanted to say thanks to the Administration for the Tax BREAK!!

John Snow
Appreciate your comments, but the way we look at it, this is really a victory for the American worker, American families, people looking for work, small business and the American taxpayer. But you are nice words are greatly appreciated. We will have the signing ceremony of the President's Jobs and Growth legislation in about two hours. I will pass your comments on to him. By the way, you can watch the signing ceremony LIVE on

Tony, from Pittsburgh writes:
How exactly does a tax cut contribute to economic growth?

John Snow
The tax cut will help economic growth in a number of ways. First of all, people will have more of their own hard-earned money and that will lead to additional spending. The additional spending will help business and as business picks up we'll see new jobs created and higher economic growth. In addition, small business gets a real lift from this bill. 23 million small businesses will see their taxes go down and their income rise. As businesses become more profitable, they are much more inclined to add machinery, hire additional people and grow and expand. Small business is the engine of job creation. And this legislation will get small business operating on all 8 cylinders. Additionally, lowering the tax on dividends and capital gains will help stimulate investments which are so important to job creation. Finally, I should note that many economists have written expressing their support for the legislation. Their basic message is this: the legislation will benefit all Americans by improving the economy's performance in both the short and long term.

Janet, from Jacksonville, AL writes:
What income brackets will this new package affect, and in what ways?

John Snow
Under the new legislation, all 91 million taxpayers will get a tax reduction. The wonderful thing about this tax bill is it applies to every single tax payer in the country. 91 million taxpayers will see their taxes go down.

Anthony, from Lawrenceville,NJ writes:
Do you love your job as Secretary of the Treasury?

John Snow
The Treasury Department is an extremely important part of what makes American government work well. We are responsible for the revenue collection and payments of all refunds and generally the financial affairs of the US government. I have never worked with better or dedicated or competent people. It is a great honor to serve in this position and to have the opportunity to be a part of this Administration.

Dave, from Arkansas writes:
Are you concerned with the deficit levels?

John Snow
Deficits are never welcome. But fortunately the current deficit is fairly modest and manageable. We are committed to seeing it go down significantly in the years ahead. The best way to deal with deficits is to grow the economy and to control spending. This Administration is committed to both. As we do this, the fiscal deficit will take care of itself. The immediate deficit we face is jobs and growth and the President’s Jobs and Growth plan will create lots of jobs and help the economy grow so that everybody that is looking for work can find a job.

Austin, from Sandwich, MA writes:
I have one question who is going to be the Deputy Secretary of Treasury?

John Snow
I can't tell you in advance of formal announcement who will serve President Bush in this capacity, but I can assure you that the appointee will be of the greatest ability and highest ethical and professional integrity.

Elizabeth, from Fairfield, CT writes:
Secretary Snow, I am a married professional woman, without children, and am interested in learning how the new tax plan will impact us, and when. When we were married a few years ago, we were shocked to see how much more we owed in taxes due to the marriage tax, so I am hoping that is being remedied. Thank you.

John Snow
Around July 1st, you will see more money in your paycheck, as the withholding rate changes. The legislation also provides marriage penalty relief by increasing the standard deduction for married couples to twice that of a single person.

Lacretia, from Columbus, IN writes:
Will mutual fund dividends be taxed at the 15% rate under the new tax law?

John Snow
Mutual fund dividends will be taxed at the lower rate if the dividends are attributable to stocks. However, if the dividends are derived from interest income received by the mutual fund those dividends do not qualify for the lower rate. The mutual fund is required to report these amounts separately.

John, from Natalia, TX writes:
If you could put your image on a form of currency, which would you put it on?

John Snow
I would put it on the 500 dollar bill. It has the least circulation. That way I wouldn't have to see myself too often. lol

John Snow
This has been fun being a part of this cyberspace interview by the people. Sorry I couldn't get to all the questions, but hope we can do it again soon.