Exchange With Reporters Prior to a Meeting With Senate Leaders
Q. How far are you on a compromise on the economics program?
The President. Well, we just started. I have asked Secretary Bentsen to work with Mr. Panetta, to work with the Senate, to basically body the principles that I think are important. We have to have $500 billion in deficit reduction. We have to have the spending cuts. And no tax increases without the spending cuts. The deficit trust fund is important. The tax burden has to be progressive.
Right now, over 60 percent of this money is coming from people with incomes above $200,000, over 74 percent from people with incomes above $100,000. That has to be kept. And then we have to keep the pro-work, pro-jobs portions of this intact. This plan gives the best incentives to small business, to new businesses, and for working poor people to work their way out of poverty, of any tax program we have ever had. And it's not just a tax program. It's an investment program, and it's a spending-cut program. And the whole thing has to be put together. Now, within those principles, these people are going to work out a bill that can pass the Senate, pass the Congress, and can keep the economic growth going.
Keep in mind the main objective is to keep interest rates down, keep the growth going. We've got 755,000 new jobs since January, a 7-year high in housing starts, first time in 18 mouths unemployment below 7 percent. This thing is working. We've got to keep it going. That's my concern.
Q. How far are you on a Btu tax? Would you give a little on that?
The President. I want an energy component that promotes energy conservation in clean fuels. That's what I want. I believe that's an important part of our future. Everybody knows that if we're going to have high productivity growth and be a rich country, we have to promote that. That's an important principle to me, too.
Q. [Inaudible]—on Senator Boren to get that passed?
The President. I'm promoting the principles. These guys are going to work it out. My job is to advocate for the kinds of product—I want the results. I want jobs and incomes and growth. That's what we're producing now. That's my job. I'm confident they'll produce a plan that will give us that.
NOTE: The exchange began at 5:35 p.m. in the Oval Office at The White House, prior to a meeting with Senators George J. Mitchell and Daniel Patrick Moynihan. A tape was not available for verification of the content of this exchange.
William J. Clinton, Exchange With Reporters Prior to a Meeting With Senate Leaders Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/220200