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Ask the White House - 2006 Guests Ask the White House Archives
July 4, 2006 | 12:28 a.m.(EDT)

Q: Nadja, from Florida:
When reading the Declaration of Independence, who are they referring to as "He"?

Allen Weinstein A: Allen Weinstein, Archivist of the United States:
The "He" is definitely King George III, King of Great Britain.

The Declaration of Independence, adopted by the Continental Congress on July 4, 1776, announced to the world the separation of the thirteen colonies from Great Britain and the establishment of the United States of America. In justifying the Revolution, it asserted a universal truth about human rights that still resonates today. But the longest section of the Declaration is a list of grievances against King George III, King of Great Britain. It is the King the Americans refer to as "he."

The government's official, signed, record copy of the Declaration of Independence is on permanent display at the National Archives.

June 7, 2006 | 1:35 p.m.(EDT)

Q: Kathleen, from Colorado:
What agency handles our election/voting process? And if there were an investigation, who would perform that investigation?

Michael Toner A: Michael Toner, Chairman, Federal Election Commission:
Through the Help America Vote Act of 2002 Congress created the Election Assistance Commission (EAC) to monitor election administration and make recommendations to states and localities on how best to administer elections. Investigations of elections and the voting process are conducted by states and localities or by the Congress. More information may also be found at the Federal Election Commission website

May 4, 2006 | 10:43 p.m.(EDT)

Q: Clarissa, from Indianapolis, Indiana:
Preparations for the pandemic flu will impact public school budgets. What provisions, assistance has the U.S. Department of Education and the White House made to protect the students in US schools? What training videos, materials are available to in-service all school staffs on precautions to be utilized in classrooms?

Secretary Margaret Spellings A: Margaret Spellings, Secretary of Education:
Clarissa, I recently sent a letter to the chief of education in every state, representatives in every local education district, and all higher education institutions, asking them to make planning for pandemic flu a priority. The letter included checklists developed by HHS, CDC and ED and intended to provide schools with guidance for planning. The checklists, also posted on, outline specific steps that pre-schools, K-12 schools, and colleges and universities should take to prepare. They include:

  • Reviewing and disseminating health information about hygiene for kids, such as the tips at
  • Meeting with local health officials to ensure that schools are part of the community's pandemic plan.
  • Planning for staff absences, and considering how to educate children if your school is closed for a period of time.
  • Identifying alternative sources of meals if normal school lunch programs are disrupted.
  • Considering how to provide medical care for students on site.

Furthermore, our Office of Safe and Drug Free Schools is holding emergency crisis planning training seminars including a specific workshop on pandemic flu planning. This training, designed for school officials, has already taken place in Denver and another is scheduled for Pittsburgh in a couple of weeks. In the coming months, we will disseminate model flu plans to school officials as further guidance for planning.

April 10, 2006 | 6:34 p.m. (EDT)

Q: Kerry from Atlanta:
Who chooses the order of the cabinet Members that sit next to the President during Cabinet Meetings?

Heidi Marquez Smith A: Heidi Marquez Smith, Special Assistant to the President for Cabinet Liaison:
Kerry, thank you for your question about the President's Cabinet.

During President Bush's Cabinet Meetings, members of the Cabinet are seated around the table in protocol order. Protocol is determined by when the Cabinet Member's department, agency, or office was established. The President sits at the center of the table, the Vice President, who is next in protocol order, sits directly across from him, the Secretary of State, whose department was established first, sits to the President's right, and the Secretary of the Treasury, whose department was established next, sits to the Vice President's right.

In addition, each Cabinet Member's chair has a plaque on the back with his/her title. Cabinet Members who have served in a Cabinet-level position more than once have a plaque for every position in the Cabinet they have held. Secretary Rumsfeld has held the most Cabinet-level positions of any current Cabinet Member. He has five plaques on his chair, including; Director of the Office of Economic Opportunity and Assistant to the President (Cabinet rank under President Nixon), Counselor to the President and Director of the Economic Stabilization Program (Cabinet rank under President Nixon), Chief of Staff to President Ford, and Secretary of Defense twice (under President Ford and President Bush).

March 22, 2006 | 1:37 a.m.(EDT)

Q: Kimberly, from Los Angeles, California:
I believe many Americans are still paying a lot of income tax. Does Mr. President have a plan to reduce our taxes. I work hard everyday and a lot are of federal tax are taken in my paycheck. What can we do to reduce our taxes?

John Snow A: John Snow, Secretary of the Treasury:
Kimberly, you and I think a lot alike, and I'm glad that you are looking at your paychecks to see how much of your money goes to pay taxes. You are holding your government accountable, and that's a very important part of living in a free country.

Since he has been in office, the President has done a great deal to reduce the tax burden on the American people. Your taxes are lower today than they used to be thanks to the President's Economic Growth and Tax Relief Reconciliation Act of 2001, the Jobs and Growth Tax Relief Reconciliation Act of 2003, and the Working Families Tax Relief Act of 2004. Those tax-cutting bills provided enough relief for American workers and businesses to help with economic recovery, and the best news is that the resulting economic growth has led to the creation of five million new jobs. Some Members of Congress have called for tax increases, and the President will not accept them. In fact, he has called on Congress to take action to make his tax relief permanent. It's very important that Congress acts on that request - otherwise you will see more money taken out of your paycheck in future years. Thanks for this question, Kimberly. If you want to read more about the President's tax relief efforts, I encourage you to read this document on the Treasury Department's website:

February 9, 2006 | 12:00 p.m.(EDT)

Q: Kimberly, from Sebring, Florida:
Hi, my name is Kimberly Perrymond. I am taking a National government class and I wanted to know why a person running for president has to be a US resident for the 14 years before taking office. Thank You

Allen Weinstein A: Allen Weinstein, Archivist of the United States:
Kimberly, thanks for the great question. Actually, this requirement comes directly from the U.S. Constitution, Article II, Section 1:

"No Person except a natural born Citizen, or a Citizen of the United States, at the time of the Adoption of this Constitution, shall be eligible to the Office of President; neither shall any Person be eligible to that Office who shall not have attained to the Age of thirty five Years, and been fourteen Years a Resident within the United States."

To learn more about the Constitution of the United States, and the other members of the "Charters of Freedom" including the Declaration of Independence and the Bill of Rights, please visit the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) website at:

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