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 Home > News & Policies > April 2003

Excerpts from the Press Briefing by Ari Fleischer, April 10, 2003 (Full Transcript)

QUESTION: On that issue, Ari, a group in the Senate of moderate Republicans are still holding out for a tax cut that's a little higher than $350 billion. Is that number large enough to accommodate what the President wants to do?

MR. FLEISCHER: Well, clearly, the President's proposal was for $726 billion. Given the facts and the economy, the President believes that the best package to create the most economic growth is a package that is as close to that number -- if it's not that exact number -- as is possible. That's what the President is seeking. Obviously, there is a process underway on Capitol Hill where the House and the Senate have to weigh what they can accomplish individually and then together in a conference. The conference is still meeting. They have not filed the conference papers. They continue to try to work through for a successful resolution of the budget resolution. And that's where we are, and that's what the President is helping on.

QUESTION: Is it better to defer the decision if the direction appears to be in -- if the compromise appears to be heading in the direction of $350 billion? If the Republican senators don't give, would you prefer that the decision is deferred until after the congressional recess?

MR. FLEISCHER: Well, clearly -- the House of Representatives passed a budget resolution that had some $726 billion worth of tax relief in it. The Senate has a provision of $350 billion. The process always works that the House and Senate conferees get together to try to see if there is a compromise that can be achieved. We're working with them in that goal and the talks are continuing.


QUESTION: Are, back to the tax cut. How could the President claim victory on half a package of his $726 billion proposed?

MR. FLEISCHER: Well, number one, let's wait and see what the final outcome is. The President wants to make certain that what is done provides as much economic growth as is possible. It's interesting, if you go back to the beginning of the debate, many Democrats were saying they would not support anything in excess of about $100 billion as a temporary one-year tax cut. Obviously, whatever the outcome is, it's going to be significantly more than many of the Democrats supported. So there's a process underway. We'll see if the process results in a good position somewhere in between what was originally set out and what is finally accomplished. You can also accomplish things by working together with various parties on the Hill.