print-only banner
The White House Skip Main Navigation
In Focus
News by Date
Federal Facts
West Wing

 Home > News & Policies > April 2003

Excerpts from the Press Briefing by Ari Fleischer, April 2, 2003 (Full Transcript)

QUESTION: Ari, there's a lot of stories out there saying the White House is signaling it wants to compromise on the tax cut. What is your reaction to that? And is $550 billion acceptable to you?

MR. FLEISCHER: Thank you for bringing that up. Obviously, the House has passed a figure at the level the President sought; the Senate has passed a different figure. And we believe that -- the President believes very strongly that the higher the number, the more jobs will be created for the American people. And, therefore, the President continues to think it's very important that the $726 billion figure that the President sought is the figure that is arrived at. He will continue to push for that figure.

We understand that there will be a give-and-take process in the Congress between the House and the Senate, but the President is going to continue to push for that figure.

QUESTION: That isn't exactly a resounding, no, we're not going to compromise.

MR. FLEISCHER: Well, again, we understand that the President proposes, Congress disposes -- but the President is continuing to push for the figure that he proposed.


QUESTION: Okay, I just want to make sure that's absolutely crystal-clear. On the tax cuts, is the President going to make phone calls and personally lobby members of the Hill to get his package through?

MR. FLEISCHER: Well, I don't rule that out, of course. And as you know, Senator Grassley was down here yesterday talking to the President. So there are important conversations that are underway and will continue. Other members of Congress have been down here to talk to the President -- some quietly, some coming down here that you know about.

The meeting today, for example, with the economists -- there was a -- the meeting was focused on the growth package. And many of these economists agreed with the President about the need to get this passed and they want to do their part, in terms of convincing the Hill to pass it.

So we're still at the beginning process of this. Congress deserves to be complimented for moving the budget process on time. There will be votes in the conference committee coming up on the budget that will set the dollar amount for what the tax cut will be. And then only after that will you actually get into the hard work of actually writing the tax cut, itself. That's the next part in the process; it has not yet begun.

QUESTION: But what about the moderate senators, because that's -- that's the real key here.

MR. FLEISCHER: There are a number of senators that are important in both parties and they'll, of course, be talked to. They're talked to on a regular basis and the President will do his part.

QUESTION: So he will call people?

MR. FLEISCHER: I said never rule out the President calling people; he's already focused on it and working on it. We'll see exactly what is necessary.


QUESTION: Ari, if the tax cut does get trimmed back -- and I don't think there's anybody that believes that it won't get cut back at least somewhat -- is the President prepared to insist that the dividend portion of the proposal remain intact --


QUESTION: -- while other portions -- he is? So he would rather have that, rather than it get cut across the board?

MR. FLEISCHER: No. The President believes that the best plan is the plan that he proposed. I'm not prepared to enter into any discussions about what contingencies plan could be if the number is not what the President proposed. The President thinks the numbers should be the $726 billion figure he proposed, and that the plan should have a 100-percent exclusion for dividends, and should have the acceleration of the child tax credit and the other provisions that he proposed