Excerpts from the Press Briefing by Clare Buchan, August 12, 2003 (Full Transcript)QUESTION: You said yesterday about -- agenda is to talk about ongoing initiatives. Can you talk any more about what the agenda is and whether they're looking to strategize on future -- possible future initiatives?
MS. BUCHAN: The President will meet with the economic team as part of his ongoing commitment to the economy and to helping create jobs for the American people who are looking for work. The effects of the President's tax cut proposal that was proposed earlier this year and just enacted into law are beginning to be felt; so they'll be reviewing the current state of the economy, talking about how the tax cuts are taking effect, what effect they are having. And they'll also be looking ahead to additional measures that need to be taken, like passing the energy bill, like tort reforms, restraining spending, which are all key elements of getting the economy going fast enough to create jobs.
QUESTION: Mainly about reinforcing his message that these initiatives are working, other initiatives not passed yet need to be passed, not necessarily talking about another round of tax cuts, or some other economic stimulus?
MS. BUCHAN: They'll be talking about the current state of the economy, as they often do, where it stands, what effects the proposal that has just been signed into law is beginning to have. There are signs of that -- that that's beginning to be felt by people. Paychecks are bigger, the child credit checks have recently gone out. There are signs that productivity is increasing, the most recent GDP numbers were positive.
So there are signs that the economy is picking up steam, but the President isn't satisfied. He believes that there's more to be done, and he has outlined a number of those initiatives for you previously. And they'll be talking about those, as well.
QUESTION: A couple of Democratic economic advisors and a couple of Nobel Prize winners had a phone conference call this morning talking about the state of the economy, I'm sure linked to what you guys are doing. One thing they were saying is that short-term you may get some effect from some of these efforts, but long-term the structural deficits that are being built in could be disastrous in terms of Social Security, Medicare, and the standing in the international community, as to how the American economy is seen. I wonder if you could respond to that?
MS. BUCHAN: Sure, a couple of points. Number one, in crafting the tax relief packages, the President has always had both the short-term and the long-term in mind. And that's been critical to him, is ensuring that we take steps that boost the economy now, that create jobs now, but that don't harm the economy in the future. So that has been a guidepost for the President.
With regard to the deficit -- you've heard the President say very clearly and often that the deficit is important, that we do need to restrain spending, that a goal is to return the economy to -- the deficit to balance, but that bigger priorities right now are getting people working, fighting the war on terrorism and winning the war. Those are high priorities and the President believes we must address those.
QUESTION: Back to the economic meeting tomorrow. A year ago, we had the Waco summit, a rather big production. This year we have a much gentler, milder meeting. Anything to be drawn from that, at all? And should we be expecting any new ideas, proposals, tomorrow?
MS. BUCHAN: Well, the President is very committed to the economy, to working to boost economic growth, to create jobs for every American who wants a job. He did propose some very aggressive and bold actions to address those issues earlier this year, which have just been enacted and are just beginning to really flow through to the economy. In response to your question about, you know, why one meeting last year, why a different form of meeting this year, I think that the President continues to meet in a variety of different formats and just focus on the economy in a variety of different ways.
QUESTION: Is anything new going to come out tomorrow?
MS. BUCHAN: I think I answered that for Scott.
QUESTION: The proposals that you described that the President wants --
MS. BUCHAN: I'm sorry, I can't hear you.
QUESTION: Of the proposals you described that the President wants enacted on the economy, the one that he's been talking about most, that seems to be a renewed emphasis on, are the re-employment accounts. That was proposed in the budget in January. Does the President want that enacted, that proposal enacted this fall?
MS. BUCHAN: The President does want it enacted. You've heard him address it a number of times. It has passed through one of the House committees, and it continues to be something that the President thinks is important. This is an initiative that would help give additional resources to individuals who have had a hard time finding work, give them an opportunity to have these personal re-employment accounts, which would make available $3,000 for purposes of child care, or re-training, or perhaps, moving expenses.
And then, in the event that they find a job before that $3,000 is spent, then they have an opportunity to actually get the remainder of that money for their own personal use.
QUESTION: This fall, though?
MS. BUCHAN: The President believes it's an important initiative and he urges Congress to act on it.