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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.

Anna Escobedo Cabral
U.S. Treasurer
August 1, 2006

Anna Escobedo Cabral
Good afternoon. I am pleased to have this opportunity to participate in today's "Ask White House" session. I hope you got a chance to hear new Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson discuss the state of the U.S. economy. In case you missed it, you can read his speech at

I'm so delighted I have the chance to answer your questions on our economy, which I am happy to report is strong and continues to grow stronger. Although we have seen some moderation in the economy to a more sustainable pace, there is still every indication that the strong pace will continue. The President is working hard to implement policies that will maintain long-term economic growth and generate higher standards of living for future generations of America.

Kim, from Kentucky writes:
Hi Anna, Wow, the economy is definately moving in the right direction with 4.6 unemployment rate currently. I just wanted to say that with this amazing economy, it is a shame that there is not more in the news about what is going right with the economy Keep up the good work.

Anna Escobedo Cabral
Thank you for your support, Kim. You are right; the strength of our labor force is remarkable, as more than 5.4 million net new jobs have been created since the President’s tax relief took effect in mid-2003. And the current 4.6 percent unemployment rate that you point to is actually lower than the average in each of the last four decades. What’s more, the Hispanic unemployment rate, which I personally take interest in, is 5.2 percent for the second quarter of this year, the lowest in history.

Sandy, from Ohio writes:
With all of the job losses going on, where will the tax base be to fund everything the President wants money for? Ohio has been hit hard, we're losing our homes right and left, let alone pay taxes. Where will this leave our future generations?

Anna Escobedo Cabral
Thank you, Sandy. The loss of any job is of great concern to the President and his Administration. As a mother of four children, I am particularly concerned about the opportunities we are creating for future generations.

The President has laid a solid foundation through tax relief that has been instrumental in the current strength of the economy, with more Americans working than ever before, and federal tax revenues growing at the fastest rate since the early 1970s. The President is also working toward implementing a pro-growth economic agenda that will further U.S. economic strength and better the standards of living for all Americans across the country. The central components of this agenda include:

  • Tax Relief for all Americans Who Pay Income Taxes – Tax relief is at the core of U.S. economic strength.
  • The American Competitiveness Initiative – Increase commitment to research and development, strengthen education in math, science, and engineering, and ensure that America remains the economic leader of the world. Initiatives like those through the Department of Labor to create public-private partnerships that assist Americans in developing new skills for being more marketable in today’s workforce.
  • Affordable & Available Health Care for All American Families – The President has five key policies to make health care more affordable and available for all American families.
  • The Advanced Energy Initiative – To continue economic growth in a global economy, American must find solutions to its energy needs.
  • Opening New Markets for America’s Workers – On a level playing field, American businesses and workers can compete with anyone in the world.

John, from Fargo, ND writes:
Is the administration worried about the budget deficit? And if so, how is this concern consistent with the president's tax cuts, since tax cuts increase the budget deficit by causing a loss of revenue? Thanks.

Anna Escobedo Cabral
Thank you, John; I appreciate your question on a topic that is very important to the President – paying down the federal deficit. You will be happy to know the recent Mid-Session Review released last month by the Office of Management and Budget, showed the deficit decreasing much faster than almost anyone expected. This year the deficit is projected to be 2.3 percent of GDP, which is equal to the average deficit of the past 40 years. Moreover, despite the conventional wisdom about tax cuts, in the past two years tax revenue has grown at the fastest rate since the early 1970s. In fact, revenue is growing so quickly that we are on a path to meet the President’s deficit reduction goal a year early.

The President’s tax relief, as evidenced by key economic indicators such as increased capital investment and Gross Domestic Product (GDP), and strong job growth, played an important role in strengthening the U.S. economy as it was coming out of the recent recession. Almost overnight from when the tax relief took effect, business investment went from nine quarters of negative growth to what’s now 13 straight quarters of positive business investment. The economy as a whole also started to grow, and has continued to do so at a remarkable pace. When businesses are investing and the economy is growing, more jobs are being created. And when you have a strong economy, you have high tax revenues, which then allows for deficit reduction. That’s exactly what is happening now in today’s economy. I think you’ll be pleased to know that our tax revenues have increased substantially over the last two years. In fact, year-to-date tax revenues are up 12 percent over last year’s 14.5 percent increase.

Michael, from Powell, TN writes:
What do you think about our national motto "In God We Trust" being printed on our currency?

Anna Escobedo Cabral
Thanks for your question, Michael. The use of the motto, "In God We Trust," is a 50 year-old tradition and is the subject of a recent Proclamation signed by President Bush just last month. I am very proud of the tradition and trust it will continue for many years to come.

Also, it may interest you to know that the U.S. Mint is currently working on designs for new dollar coins on which the motto and year of the coin will be displayed on the side edges as opposed to the face of the coin.

Cliff, from Brimfield, Ohio writes:
Treasurer Cabral: Why do we still mint the penny when it cost more to mint than it's worth. And most people just put them in a jar and the stores must hate to have to deal with them in change. Please don't tell me its just a tradition. We use to all ride horse's but now we have car's. The government should save money and minting the penny is a losing money program. Thank You

Anna Escobedo Cabral
I understand that many people have strong feelings about the penny. As U.S. Treasurer, I oversee the production of our nation’s currency.

The United States Mint proudly mints the coins that Congress authorizes. It would be a decision for the U.S. Congress whether to eliminate the penny or to reduce its cost (of production) by changing the composition. The United States Mint informed Congress on May 1, 2006 that the penny is costing slightly more than 1 cent to produce due to rising metal prices. The United States Mint also discussed this subject during a House Financial Services Subcommittee hearing last month. The United States Mint stands ready to provide any information Congress may request.

Greg, from Seattle writes:
Dear Mrs. Cabral, How exactly does government debt work. Do we take out loans, or bonds? I don't quite understand where we get the money from. Thank you very much. Greg

Anna Escobedo Cabral
Good question, Greg. The deficit is the fiscal year difference between what the U.S. Government takes in from taxes and other revenues, called receipts, and the amount of money it spends, called outlays.

When outlays exceed receipts the federal government has to borrow the difference. We borrow the money by selling Treasury securities like T-bills, notes, bonds and savings bonds to the public. Those purchasing these instruments give the government cash that can be used today in exchange for a promise by the government to repay this amount plus interest in the future.

Kevin, from Chicago writes:
What do you do as Treasurer??

Anna Escobedo Cabral
Kevin, the position of U.S. Treasurer is one of the oldest position in the United States federal government -- older than the Treasury Department itself. It was created shortly after the American Revolution so that the newfound nation could locate the much needed resources for fighting the war for independence.

The responsibilites of the U.S. Treasurer have changed over the years. Today, I spend a good deal of my time working in support of the President's economic agenda and on financial education issues. President Bush is concerned with not only providing opportunity and ensuring strong economic growth, but also providing Americans with the skillsets, tools and knowledge necessary to remain competitive in a global marketplace and reap the financial benefits of our dynamic economy.

Another very important responsibility is that of working with the Federal Reserve and U.S. Secret Service in the redesign of our nation's paper money to protect the integrity of our currency and to stop counterfeiting.

For example, on March 2nd of this year, we introduced a brand new, colorful $10 bill that included three important security features:

  1. Color shifting ink in the lower righthand corner of the face of the bill -- the numeral 10 changes from copper to green when you tilt the bill slightly;
  2. A watermark image of Alexander Hamilton, our first Secretary of the Treasury, embedded in the paper; and
  3. A security thread found to the right of the portrait that repeats the phrase "US TEN."

Both the watermark and security thread are easily seen from both sides of the bill when held up to the light.

To learn more about these and other design changes, please visit the U.S. Bureau of Engraving and Printing web site at

Maria, from Irvine, CA writes:
Ms. Cabral- I would like to thank you for your work in the Hispanic Association on Corporate Responsibility. I admire your dedication to your country, and your dedication to your heritage. Also- as U.S. Treasurer, what are you doing to further opportunities for minorities? What does the government offer to help jumpstart businesses by minorities?

Anna Escobedo Cabral
Thank you for your comment. I certainly have had a fantastic experience working on many levels with the Hispanic Association on Corporate Responsibility.

First, I believe that each one of us has God-given talents and a particular set of skills to offer to society - we all bring something to the table - qualifications that can help us work together on common goals and improve people's lives.

The Treasury team is no different. I feel fortunate to work with a group of tremendously qualified and talented individuals. As U.S. Treasurer, I am very proud to say that I am part of that team, and the President's team. Together we remain focused on important efforts to inform individuals, including minorities and those in traditionally underserved communities, about useful tools and resources that can help them make better financial decisions, and ultimately open the door to otherwise unknown opportunities.

For instance, we are deeply committed to improving financial literacy levels across the country. We do this in a variety of ways. Briefly, here are just two ways we are doing this. First, we are engaged in an interagency effort to improve delivery of federal financial education information and resources directly into people's hands. The Financial Literacy and Education Commission, which was created as a result of President Bush signing into law the Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions Act in 2003, required that we develop a financial education web site and toll-free hotline. Both are now available and a whole host of information on a variety of personal finance topics can be accessed for free in English and Spanish at:, or by calling 1-888-mymoney for a sample of free financial education publications. By the way, minority serving institutions and grassroots organizations will also be interested to note that this commission recently released - in April of 2006 - a national strategy for financial education and it also can be accessed on the web site.

Secondly, my office has been very involved in helping the Department promote the Go Direct campaign. About a year and half ago, the Treasury and Federal Reserve Banks launched a campaign called Go Direct – in Spanish it is known as Directo A Su Cuenta. The campaign’s objective is to encourage seniors to receive their Social Security benefits by direct deposit. There is a dedicated call center staffed by bilingual personnel ready to assist all beneficiaries. The call center is only one of many ways we are helping beneficiaries sign up for direct deposit. Our Web sites: and

I am concerned many of our retired federal beneficiaries in minority communities may not be taking advantage of these important tools. That is why I am very involved in outreach efforts, by visiting different national and local grass roots across the country and asking them to help us spread the word about these important resources with the people they serve in their local communities.

Mike, from Wayne, PA writes:
I keep hearing the press say that the economic growth is only confined to the highest earners, and that no one who earns below $1,000,000 per year is contributing to the tax-reciept growth. Is this true?

Anna Escobedo Cabral
Mike, this is a great question. There is a lot of misinformation out there and I think it's important for you to know that the President's tax relief is benefiting virtually every single American taxpayer.

Unless it is made permanent, millions of Americans will face tax increases in 2011. More specifically, the following provides an illustration of just how many Americans on average will experience tax increases if the tax cuts are not made permanent:

  • 115 million taxpayers – $1,716 increase;
  • 84 million women – $1,970 increase;
  • 48 million married couples – $2,726 increase;
  • 42 million families with children – $2,084 increase;
  • 12 million single women with children – $1,062 increase;
  • 17 million seniors – $2,034 increase;
  • 26 million small business owners – $3,637 increase; and
  • More than 5 million taxpayers will become subject to the individual income tax.

This analysis assumes that the following provisions in the President's tax relief signed into law from 2001-2005 would be allowed, as scheduled, to expire at the end of 2010:

  • Creation of the new 10 percent individual income tax bracket.
  • Reduction in individual income tax rates above 15 percent rate bracket.
  • Reduction of marriage penalties in the standard deduction, 15 percent rate bracket, and the earned income tax credit.
  • Lowering the tax rate on capital gains and dividend income to 15 percent (0 percent for the lowest two rate brackets).
  • Increase in the child tax credit to $1,000.
  • Expansion of the partially refundable additional child tax credit.
  • Increase in the child and dependent care tax credit.
  • Simplification of the rules for determining income for the earned income tax credit.

Anna Escobedo Cabral
U.S. economic strength and stability is of the utmost importance to the President. While the economy is reaping the benefits of tax relief through strong job growth and higher standards of living, President Bush and his administration is just getting started in terms of implementing pro-growth policies that will sustain the strength of the economy and continue to make America a leading competitor in an ever-increasing global economy. Thank you for the opportunity to chat with you today.

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