The White House
President George W. Bush
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For Immediate Release
January 9, 2003

Press Gaggle with Ari Fleischer
The South Driveway

9:04 A.M. EST

MR. FLEISCHER: Good morning, nation's press corps. Good morning. This is the back of Air Force One. (Laughter.) So this is a newfangled gaggle.

Q Driveway journalism.

MR. FLEISCHER: What kind of journalism?

Q Driveway journalism. (Laughter.)

MR. FLEISCHER: The President this morning had an intelligence briefing followed by an FBI briefing. Then he will depart the White House en route National Capital Flag Corporation -- or Company in Alexandria, Virginia. National Flag Company manufactures custom flags and flag poles for personal, commercial and government use, including the flags that fly on the Presidential limousine.

The company was founded in Claude Haynes' living room in 1962 and has since grown roughly 5 percent a year. Al Ulmer, Jr., became president in 2000. He increased the company's labor force to 35 employees and moved the company to Alexandria, Virginia.

The flags held by Boy Scouts and other groups for the informal observance of Flag Day that the President held last year were purchased at the National Capital Flag Company.

The President is going here to promote his package to help get the economy growing even faster. He wants to highlight the job-creating powers that are in his economic package and call on Congress to pass it. He will be joined at this event by several people who will benefit from it.

The company, first of all, because of the -- the small business, because of the expensing provisions in tripling the amount you can expense from $25,000 to $75,000, Mr. Ulmer believes that he will be able to purchase two additional pieces of equipment which he will show the President during the demonstration that will lead to his hiring what he believes will be two additional workers. That's a clear sign of how the package creates jobs.

In addition, other people who will join the President this morning will be Joseph and Kristen Pappano. They are in their mid-30s, they're married with two young children. Together, they earn approximately $75,000 a year. In total, they'll receive a $900 savings on their yearly tax bill -- an 18 percent tax cut.

He's not ready to go yet.

Donald Lucas -- has this been handed out to you guys, yet? Okay, then you have that. I won't go through then all the facts of the families that will benefit.

Very briefly, Donald Lucas, 74, retired. His annual income is approximately $65,000 a year, including $5,000 roughly in taxable dividends. His savings will be approximately $1,800 year, an 18 percent reduction.

In other issues today, we've just put this out, the President announced today the appointment of Ambassador Otto Reich as Special Envoy for Western Hemisphere Initiatives. And with that, I'm happy to take any questions.

Q Let me just back up on the specifics of the plan. What is the provision exactly that the owner of this business says is going to help him?

MR. FLEISCHER: Expensing -- under current tax law, you're allowed to expense $25,000 worth of equipment and no more than $25,000. The President proposed a provision to help small businesses expand by allowing them to expense $75,000 worth of equipment. Because he would be up against his cap, now the cap would grow to $75,000, he would have more of an incentive to buy these two pieces of equipment, which would allow him to hire more workers.

Q What do those two pieces of equipment do?

MR. FLEISCHER: They manufacture flags.

Q What, they're just sewing machines?

MR. FLEISCHER: We'll see when we get there. I'm not sure.

Do you know, Reed, specifically?

MR. DICKENS: They're large versions of sewing machines.

Q Ari, can you give us a spelling of the guy, the owner's name. I'm not sure -- the one who's buying the two new pieces of equipment.

MR. FLEISCHER: Al Ulmer, Jr., U-l-m-e-r, junior.

Q You've had a full day now to gauge support on the Hill. There was a story in a newspaper today suggesting Democrats supported it last time, don't necessarily support it this time. Have you had a chance to --

MR. FLEISCHER: Let me make two points. Number one, if you recall what happened in 2001, the Democrats did not support it at the beginning, either; they supported it at the end. The 12 Democrats who voted for it in the Senate, when the President announced it, they didn't come out for it, but they emerged there toward the end. So that's no surprise.

But, in fact, we do expect there will be some positive things coming from the Democrats. Senator Bayh, for example, has already weighed in rather favorably toward the package. And this is the beginning of what will be a very productive process in the President's judgment and opinion.

Q What's going on in North Korea, Iraq today?

MR. FLEISCHER: We still have not heard back from the North Koreans, and we await their official word.

Q Since the President today is highlighting the proposals that help small businesses, that's not a particularly controversial part of the plan. Will he be talking up the other more controversial things, like the dividend tax cut, things that have more opposition?

MR. FLEISCHER: In the President's remarks, he'll talk about the plan in its entirety. He'll talk about everything.

Q This isn't just focusing on the small business part, but the whole thing?

MR. FLEISCHER: Well, the visit, of course, highlights it creates jobs.

Q Right. Will he be making, though, other trips like this, just to focus on some of the other parts?

MR. FLEISCHER: You can anticipate, as the new year begins, the President aggressively pursuing his domestic agenda for the country. That will include a number of new initiatives, it will include a number of visits throughout the country to different places, and the President looks forward to working vigorously on behalf of American people for a robust domestic agenda.

Q So he'll be traveling, though, specifically for the plan, for the economic plan?

MR. FLEISCHER: Among other initiatives, yes.

Q He's been to this factory before, hasn't he, the President?

MR. FLEISCHER: I don't think so.

Q A year or so ago?

MR. DICKENS: I don't believe so.

MR. FLEISCHER: I don't recall it.

Q Where is Turkey right now, in it's -- (Laughter.)

MR. FLEISCHER: -- Mediterranean --

Q I opened myself up to that one. Where are they in supporting a possible war on Iraq? Where do they stand?

MR. FLEISCHER: Let me -- let me help you on that geographic question, Ron. (Laughter.) Scott. (Laughter.)

Turkey is a very valuable friend and ally. It always has been and always will be. And we continue to work with Turkey on a number of issues that are diplomatic, that are military, that are economic. And we continue to work with our friends the Turkish government on a number of these initiatives.

Q Where do they stand in terms of a commitment to help the United States in a possible --

MR. FLEISCHER: Anything that comes from Turkey has to come from Turkey. It's a very complex situation, many different aspects to it. And we'll continue to work with Turkey on it.

END 9:10 A.M. EST

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