Kwame Holman looks at the economics of tax cuts, bankruptcy, ergonomics of the workplace, and how President Bush relates to Congress.
PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH: My first lunch. Thank you all for coming.
PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH: (yesterday) I don't want to jump the gun on my speech here, but I just got off the phone with the speaker of the House. He informed me that the House of Representatives just took a major vote on... a vote on a major portion of my tax relief package, and by the margin of 230 to 198, the tax rate cut passed the House of Representatives. (Applause)
KWAME HOLMAN: Republicans have approached this 107th Congress with enthusiasm not seen since they took back majority control of both Houses in January 1995. Republican ambitions back then were high, but President Clinton readily used the power of his office to thwart their initiatives.
PRESIDENT CLINTON: I don't think this is a fiscally responsible bill, and I don't think it is a fair bill. And therefore I vetoed it.
KWAME HOLMAN: For instance, last December, President Clinton refused to sign Republican- written bankruptcy reform legislation. He claimed it would hurt consumers. Four days before leaving office, the President went around Congress and adopted by executive order new repetitive motion rules to protect workers. And throughout his presidency, Mr. Clinton vetoed almost every Republican attempt to cut taxes, including an $800 billion package in 1999.
PRESIDENT CLINTON: The bill is too big, too bloated, places too great a burden on America's economy.
KWAME HOLMAN: But with a like- minded President now supporting its initiatives, the Republican majority in Congress rushed all three of those issues back to the House and Senate floors within the past week.
REP. MAC COLLINS: Mr. Speaker, for eight long years I have waited to tell the people of Georgia that the President of the United States has sent a bill to Congress which will reduce the tax burden on every taxpayer in America. That day has come.
KWAME HOLMAN: Along with passing the income tax cuts, the House again approved bankruptcy reform legislation and repealed the new workplace repetitive motion rules. The Senate also repealed the workplace rules, currently is debating bankruptcy reform and is expected to take on the tax cuts shortly.
PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH: One House down and now the Senate to go. (Cheers and applause)
KWAME HOLMAN: Consequently these are not happy days for many Democrats, who for six years relied on the White House to provide their last line of defense. Here's Dick Durbin of Illinois on bankruptcy reform.
SEN. RICHARD DURBIN: You cannot say this is a balanced bill. It is tipped to make sure the credit industry always wins and the consumer always loses.
KWAME HOLMAN: This Wisconsin's David Obey on the tax cuts.
REP. DAVID OBEY: With all of the problems Americans face on social security, education, health care and the lot, their top priority is to ease the tax burden on those who make more than $300,000 a year by huge amounts. If that is your top priority, I say pitiful.
KWAME HOLMAN: And Democrats in both Houses were particularly upset with the swiftness with which the workplace rules were repealed.
SEN. EDWARD KENNEDY: With Republicans in control of Congress and the White House, it is trample-down economics for American workers. Let American workers be on guard. Your rights and your dignity and your hard work are no longer respected. Today your safety is on the chopping block. Tomorrow it is going to be your medical leave or your ability to spend more time with your families.
REP. MAJOR OWENS: This is just the beginning. By ruthless destroying the ergonomic standard at the beginning of this 107th session of Congress...
SPOKESMAN: Gentleman's time from New York has expired.
REP. MAJOR OWENS: -- send a message of intimidation...
KWAME HOLMAN: To which Republicans replied:
REP. JACK KINGSTON: What is it with the Democrat party that they think the wizards of Oz are in Washington, DC, and that they should dictated to all the businesses all over the country who should do what, when they should do it, and how they should do it?
REP. JOHN BOEHNER: And I'm proud of the fact that my colleagues today will stand up and tell the bureaucracy enough is enough. You're going to do things in a reasonable, responsible way, or you're not going to do them at all.
KWAME HOLMAN: And this morning, a thousand miles away from Washington, South Dakota Republican John Thune echoed that same resolve before a home town crowd awaiting the arrival of President Bush.
REP. JOHN THUNE: The stale air of the past, is being blown out. There is a fresh breeze blowing in Washington. And you know what? None of the Washington elite can figure out what's causing it. But the American people know what it is. We know what it is! It's the w factor.
KWAME HOLMAN: The President received an enthusiastic welcome, only having to dismiss a chorus of boos brought on by the mention of the Senate minority leader, South Dakota's Tom Daschle.