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 Home > News & Policies > April 2003

Excerpts from the Press Briefing by Ari Fleischer, April 11, 2003 (Full Transcript)

QUESTION: Ari, there's a lot of speculation on Capitol Hill that as the President's tax proposal gets trimmed back that it's the dividend tax elimination portion of it that is going to suffer the most, because that has the least immediate stimulative effect. How does the White House feel about that?

MR. FLEISCHER: The President thinks it is very important for the principles by which he advocated the tax plan to be honored, because that is the best way to have growth in the economy. And, therefore, the President continues to believe that the aspects of the tax plan, just as he proposed, are what needs to be addressed in the legislation as it moves through the Congress.

That means the dividend tax plan must be included. It means the acceleration of the rate cuts must be included. It means the child credit, the AMT relief, all the provisions that the President pronounced he was in favor of, were decided upon because of their benefit to an economy that needs help so people find work. And the President has not retreated on that.

Obviously, we'll work with whatever numbers we receive when the final budget resolution is agreed to. And it looks like there is a good compromise in the offing. And we will work within whatever those final numbers are.

QUESTION: But does he recognize that he's -- or does he recognize that he's not going to get the entire dividend tax elimination that --

MR. FLEISCHER: I would not conclude that, no. The President believes that there should still be, and will fight for, a 100 percent dividend exclusion.

QUESTION: Possibly at the expense of other portions of the tax cut, though, correct? You're not going to get the whole proposal, that's clear.

MR. FLEISCHER: There are still ways, within the existing smaller number, to accomplish the objectives the President sought, still standing by each of the provisions that the President proposed.


QUESTION: You talked earlier about the importance of adhering to the original principles of the tax bill, would the President not accept a partial elimination of the dividend tax cut?

MR. FLEISCHER: Well, I think it's too soon to start speculating about what the final tax bill will be and whether the President accepts or doesn't accept.

QUESTION: But there has been some compromise -- the size has been cut.

MR. FLEISCHER: Well, clearly, there will be compromises. Given the fact that the President proposed a $726 billion proposal, most Democrats originally said nothing more than $100 billion. And today an agreement will be reached, it looks like -- they still have to vote it in the Senate -- but an agreement, it looks like it will be reached that would allow for $550 billion in the House and $350 billion in the Senate -- with the possibility of going higher down the road.

QUESTION: But what comes out of that $550 billion is only a partial elimination of the dividend. Would the President not accept that?

MR. FLEISCHER: I don't know why you have to -- it does not lead to requiring only a partial elimination of the dividend. It is, indeed, possible within the $550 billion figure to have a 100 percent elimination of the dividend. The President thinks that's important, and he will pursue it.