George W. Bush photo

Exchange With Reporters in Beaver, Pennsylvania

February 28, 2001

National Economy/Tax Relief Legislation

Q. Chairman Greenspan this morning said that the slowdown doesn't look like it's run its course yet, and I'm wondering if you can comment on that.

The President. All the more reason to accelerate the tax cut. And I think our Nation needs to be wary of the economic times, and Congress needs to know that. Congress needs to work with me to accelerate a meaningful tax reduction package as quickly as possible.

Q. With the votes the way they are in the Senate, sir, can you get your package through in time and make a difference?

The President. I am confident we're going to get a significant tax relief package through. It's going to have enough oomph to it to help the economy. And that's one reason I'm traveling around the country, to make the case.

Q. Does that suggest, sir——

The President. ——Roberts [John Roberts, CBS News], on the other hand.

Q. Does that suggest, sir, that it may not be the package that you want?

The President. Oh, we're going to get the package out.

Address to the Congress

Q. Sir, how do you feel it went last night, Mr. President?

The President. You need to ask other people. I felt—well, I've passed the initial review. My wife thought I did all right. That was——

Q. Were you nervous?

The President. No, I wasn't nervous at all. I was pleased with the reception, and I was excited to be there. I had something to say, and I was prepared. I spent enough time on the speech to be comfortable with what I was going to say.

I was struck by how cozy the confines were in the hall. I've never really, obviously, been there in that position. It was actually the first State of the Union type of speech I'd ever seen. In this case, I actually got to—I couldn't say I exactly watched it—participated in it.

Tax Relief Legislation/National Economy

Q. How hard will be——

The President. You know, it's never easy for the President to get exactly what he wants. We're going to get a—I believe it's going to be $1.6 trillion. And people begin to realize the logic in the plan and that we can meet priorities, including debt repayment, and have a contingency fund, and that we need to pass a substantial portion of the money back to the people in order to help them help themselves, as well as provide stimulus to make sure our economy grows.

And I'm really looking forward to continuing to make the case—last night was the kickoff—today, tomorrow, and then the following week, and we'll take a grand tour of the country together. I'm speaking to people that are going to make a difference, and those are the citizens. Those are the people that will actually be writing their Congressmen and Senators, encouraging them to hopefully join with me in passing money back.

Q. Mr. President, now that you've taken off the glasses, sir, would you care to comment on Mr. Greenspan's testimony this morning?

The President. Say it again? What did you say?

Q. Mr. Greenspan offered a sober assessment of the current state of the economy through the sharp downturn that's been evident in the last few months. It seems to be far from running its course.

The President. I am concerned about the state of the economy. I recognize the economy is slowing down. And that's all the more reason for Congress to work to pass money back to the people and form the meaningful tax relief, and to do it as quickly as possible.

Q. And if you put the vote in the Senate, sir, as they are, do you believe you can get your tax package through the way you want it?

The President. I think we will get the tax package through. I believe a lot of people are going to take a hard look at reality and look at the facts and realize we've got ample money to meet needs and pay down debt and that we've got to stimulate the economy through tax relief, as well as give people more cash so that they can manage their own accounts.

There's a lot of talk in Washington about national debt, and that's a legitimate discussion. But I also want people to understand, there's a lot of people who have got consumer debt, and tax relief will help people manage their own balance sheets.

See you in Nebraska. By the way, I made you famous by calling you Stretch.

Q. My parents said that I've been called a lot worse.

The President. Particularly by them.

NOTE: The exchange began at approximately 9:15 a.m. during a tour of Control Concepts Corp. In his remarks, the President referred to reporter David "Stretch" Gregory, NBC News. Reporters referred to Federal Reserve Board Chairman Alan Greenspan. A tape was not available for verification of the content of this exchange.

George W. Bush, Exchange With Reporters in Beaver, Pennsylvania Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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