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 Home > News & Policies > April 2003

For Immediate Release
Department of Treasury
April 3, 2003

Sec. Snow Remarks on Securing the Economy
United States Treasury Secretary John W. Snow
Orlando Chamber of Commerce Remarks
Orlando, Florida

Thanks for a warm welcome to Florida on my first visit here as Treasury Secretary. Since it snowed in Washington on Monday, Im considering moving the Treasury Department down here.

Everyones attention these days is on the war overseas, and rightly so. A lot of young Americans - a lot of young Floridians - are over in the Middle East now, risking their lives and giving everything theyve got to secure our nation against weapons of mass destruction, and to rid the world of a brutal, ruthless regime. I can tell you that President Bush is overwhelmed with pride and admiration for our troops, as I know all of us are.

I also want you to know that even though the spotlight is on our national security today, the Presidents administration is working hard to secure our economy as well. We want to make sure that when our troops come home victorious, they have the strongest economy in the world waiting for them, full of opportunity for the future.

I believe that these are the two pillars supporting our nations greatness and the well-being of our people: national security and economic security.

As a matter of principle, this Administration believes we have an obligation to the American people to rebuild our economy, even as we protect our national security. Choosing one over the other is a false choice. Rather, we must pursue both. The President is doing everything in his power to protect our national security. He is also doing everything in his power to strengthen the economy and create jobs.

We cannot wait until the war is over to focus on economic growth. We must act now. Those here in Florida who are looking for work cannot wait for a job, and should not have to wait for a job.

To address our economic security, President Bush has proposed his Jobs and Growth Plan. The Jobs and Growth plan will create and secure jobs, accelerate and sustain our recovery, increase workers' standards of living and increase the economic performance of our nation right now and for many years to come. It will stimulate consumer spending and small business investment in the near term by letting workers and owners keep more of their own money. It will increase savings and investment for job creation and retention through the elimination of the unfair double taxation of dividends--the single most powerful thing we can do to sustain and grow the economy. We are urging Congress to pass this plan in its original form, true to its intentions, and I hope you will join us with your support.

With regard to national security, the President is also taking action. And to support this action, he has submitted a supplemental budget request to Congress. The money in the supplemental will give the men and women of our armed forces the resources that they need to conduct Operation Iraqi Freedom and to fight the war on terror; it will provide humanitarian relief to the people of Iraq; and it will help defend our homeland against the threat of terrorism.

America can afford the cost of this war, which at $74.7 billion makes up less than 1 percent of GDP. What we cannot afford is the cost of inaction against terrorist threats. The cost of inaction is unacceptably high, for both national security and economic security - in American lives, and American livelihoods. September 11th cost an estimated $83 billion to New York City alone. The top 315 U.S. metro areas sustained estimated losses of $191 billion and lost 1.6 million jobs as a result of the attacks.

Failure to pass the President's full Jobs and Growth plan would cost 450,000 new jobs by the end of this year, and 1.4 million by the end of next. American workers and families are anxious. We need to restore their sense of security. We need to act.

The state of Florida, specifically, would benefit a great deal from the Presidents proposals. Your economy has done better than the national average in many ways, but in other ways it has been suffering, andit needs a boost. Unemployment, for example, is lower than in the country overall, and personal income has been rising much faster than the national average, but manufacturing, international trade and tourism have been hurt.

Now consider the Presidents economic plan, which will bring relief to five million Florida taxpayers -- especially Floridas senior population. Over one million Florida small businesses will have tax savings to apply toward new jobs and equipment. Nearly four million married- and single-filers will benefit from the expanded 10-percent tax bracket. Nearly two million couples will benefit from the elimination of the marriage penalty; about one and a half million parents will benefit from the increased child tax credit, and 1.7 million taxpayers will gain from the end of double taxation of dividends.

That last figure, those who will benefit from the end of the double taxation of dividends, is disproportionately comprised of seniors. Nationwide, 9.8 million senior households receive dividend income that is now taxable, and more than half of all taxable dividends go to Americas seniors. It doesnt seem right to put a higher tax burden on folks who have already contributed most of a lifetime to this country.

The dividend exclusion in would provide tax relief for 7 million senior taxpayers by an average of $1,252, and 4.5 million taxpayers, mostly seniors, will have a smaller portion of their social security benefit payments taxed if the Presidents plan is enacted.

We cannot afford to fail the American people, especially our troops overseas. Now is not the time for partisan politics. Now is the time to work together. The President's economic and national security proposals are in the best interests of the state of Florida, and our nation.

Thank you.