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Excerpts from the Press Briefing by Ari Fleischer, May 8, 2003 (Full Transcript)QUESTION: On the tax cut plan, the President, as he talks around the country, has made the dividend tax elimination such a centerpiece of the plan. And now that the House has trimmed it back a little bit, and the Senate has cut it way back, and there are different versions in the different Houses, what is it exactly the President is going to ask for when he goes to these audiences and tries to promote his plan? He's been urging people to email their members of Congress, but what exactly is he supporting at this point?
MR. FLEISCHER: Make not mistake, the President is still committed to a 100-percent elimination of the taxation on individual dividends, because it's double-taxation. He thinks it's wrong. And by eliminating it, it creates the greatest boost for the economy. That continues to be the President's goal.
Now, as you know, there is a process here. The House and the Senate pass their legislation and they meet in the crucial conference committee to iron out differences. So we're watching the beginnings of the story here. The beginnings have already gotten off substantially to a good start. No question, there are differences in some of the substantive levels on the dividend tax cut. We'll work through the process.
QUESTION: Well, he can no longer realistically expect to get the full elimination of that tax.
MR. FLEISCHER: We'll continue to work through the process. And if the President believes that zero is the appropriate goal, he'll work toward it.
QUESTION: But what's the purpose of talking about the whole thing now if it's going away already?
MR. FLEISCHER: I don't think you can presume it's gone away already.
Let the process proceed.
QUESTION: Is he going to change his message a little next week when he talks to these audiences in Indiana?
MR. FLEISCHER: You'll be there. I'm sure you'll be able to cover it.
QUESTION: Does the federal support extending unemployment benefits for those whose benefits coming to an end cease at the end of this month?
MR. FLEISCHER: This is an issue, as you know, that the President supported earlier this year, the extension of unemployment benefits. Unemployment remains a key concern for the President and this is an issue on which we will work with the Congress.
QUESTION: So you have no view of that? You have no view about whether, in principle -- I'm not saying by how long, but whether in principle the benefits should be extended?
MR. FLEISCHER: I think that all depends on specifics, and the President will want to work with the Congress.
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