Question: Mr. President, you have enjoyed a Republican majority in
the House and Senate for most of your presidency. In that time, you've
not vetoed a single spending bill. Excluding $120 billion spent in Iran
and -- I'm sorry -- Iraq and Afghanistan, there has been $700 billion
spent and not paid for by taxes.
Please explain how the spending you have approved and not paid for
is better for the American people than the spending proposed by your
PRESIDENT BUSH: Right. Thank you for that.
We have a deficit. We have a deficit because this country went into
a recession. You might remember the stock market started to climb dramatically
six months before I came to office, and then the bubble of the 1990s
popped. And that cost us revenue. That cost us revenue.
Secondly, we're at war. And I'm going to spend what it takes to win
the war, more than just $120 billion for Iraq and Afghanistan. We've
got to pay our troops more. We have. We've increased money for ammunition
and weapons and pay. And homeland security. I just told this lady over
here we spent -- went from 10 billion (dollars) to $30 billion to protect
the homeland. I think we have an obligation to spend that kind of money.
plus we cut taxes for everybody. Everybody got tax relief, so as to
get out of the recession. I think if you raise taxes during a recession,
you had the depression. I come from the school of thought that says
when people have more money in their pocket during tough economic times,
it increases demand or investment. Small businesses begin to grow and
jobs are added. We found out today that over the past 13 months we've
added 1.9 million new jobs in the last 13 months.
I proposed a plan, detailed budget that shows us cutting the deficit
in half by (sic) five years. And you're right, I haven't vetoed any
spending bills because we work together.
Non-homeland, non-defense discretionary spending was rising at 15 percent
a year when I got into office. And today, it's less than 1 percent,
because we're working together to try to bring this deficit under control.
Like you, I'm concerned about the deficit. But I am not going to short-change
our troops in harm's way. And I'm not going to run up taxes, which'll
cost this economy jobs.
Thank you for your question.
MR. GIBSON: Senator Kerry, a minute and a half.
SEN. KERRY: Let me begin by saying that my health care plan is not what
the president described. It is not a government takeover. You have choice.
Choose your doctor. Choose your plan. The government has nothing to
do with it. In fact, it doesn't ask you to do anything. If you don't
want to take it, you don't have to. If you like your high premiums,
you keep 'em. (Laughs.) That's the way we leave it.
Now, with respect to the deficit. The president was handed a $5.6 trillion
surplus, ladies and gentlemen. That's where he was when he came into
office. We now have a $2.6 trillion deficit. This is the biggest turnaround
in the history of the country. He's the first president in the 72 years
to lose jobs. He talked about war. This is the first time the United
States of America has ever had a tax cut when we're at war.
Franklin Roosevelt, Harry Truman, others knew how to lead. They knew
how to ask the American people for the right things.
percent of America, the highest 1 percent of income-earners
in America got $89 billion of tax cut last year. One percent of
America got more than the 80 percent of America that earned from $100,000
The president thinks it's more important to fight for that top 1 percent
than to fight for fiscal responsibility and to fight for you.
I want to put money in your pocket. I am -- I have a proposal for a
tax cut for all people earning less than the $200,000. The only people
affected (by) my plan are the top income-earners of America.
MR. GIBSON: I both -- I heard you both say -- I have heard you both
say during the campaign, I just heard you say it, that you're going
to cut the deficit by a half in four years. But I didn't hear one thing
in the last three-and-a-half minutes that would indicate how either
one of you do that.
PRESIDENT BUSH: Well look at the budget. One is to make sure Congress
But let me talk back about where we've been. The stock market was declining
six months prior to my arrival. It was the largest stock market correction
-- one of the largest in history, which foretold a recession. Because
we cut taxes on everybody -- remember, we ran up the child credit by
a thousand, we reduced the marriage penalty, we created the 10 percent
bracket -- everybody who pays taxes got relief.
The recession was one of the shortest in our nation's history.
MR. GIBSON: Senator Kerry, 30 seconds.
SEN. KERRY: After 9/11, after the recession had ended, the president
asked for another tax cut, and promised 5.6 million jobs would be created.
He lost 1.6 million, ladies and gentlemen. And most of that tax cut
went to the wealthiest people in the country. He came and asked for
a tax cut. We wanted a tax cut to kick the economy into gear. You know
what he presented us with? A $25 billion give-away to the biggest corporations
in America, including a $254 million refund check to Enron.
Wrong priorities. You're my priority.
MR. GIBSON: Senator Kerry, the next question will be for you, and it
comes from James Varner (sp), who I believe is in this section.
Mr. Varner (sp). You need a microphone.
Question: Thank you. Senator Kerry, would you be willing to look directly
into the camera and, using simple and unequivocal language, give the
American people your solemn pledge not to sign any legislation that
will increase the tax burden on families earning less than $200,000
a year during your first term?
SEN. KERRY: Absolutely. Yes. Right into the camera, yes. I am not going
to raise taxes. I have a tax cut, and here's my tax cut. I raise the
child care credit by $1,000 for families to help them be able to take
care of their kids. I have a $4,000 tuition tax credit that goes to
parents, and kids if they're earning for themselves, to be able to pay
for college. And I lower the cost of health care in the way that I described
Every part of my program, I've shown how I'm going to pay for it. And
I've gotten good people, like former secretary of the Treasury Bob Rubin,
for instance, who showed how to balance budgets and give you a good
economy, to help me crunch these numbers and make them work.
I've even scaled back some of my favorite programs already, like the
child care program I wanted to fund, and the national service program,
because the president's deficit keeps growing, and I've said as a pledge
I'm going to cut the deficit in half in four years.
Now, I'm going to restore what we did in the 1990s, ladies and gentlemen:
pay as you go. We're going to do it like you do it. The president broke
the pay-as-you-go rule. Somebody here asked the question about why haven't
you vetoed something. It's a good question. If you care about it, why
don't you veto it? I think John McCain called the energy bill the "no
lobbyist left behind" bill. I mean, you got to stand up and fight
I'm pledging I will not raise taxes; I'm giving a tax cut to the people
earning less than $200,000 a year. Now, for the people earning more
than $200,000 a year, you're going to see a rollback to the level we
were at with Bill Clinton, when people made a lot of money. And looking
around here at this group here, I suspect there are only three people
here who are going to be affected: the president, me, and Charlie --
I'm sorry -- you, too. (Laughter.)
MR. GIBSON: (Laughs.) Mr. President, 90 seconds.
PRESIDENT BUSH: It is not credible when he talks about being fiscally
conservative. It's just not credible. If you look at his record in the
Senate, he voted to break the spending -- the caps, the spending caps
over 200 times. And here he says he's going to be a fiscal conservative
all of the sudden? It's just not credible. You cannot believe it.
of course he's going to raise your taxes. You see, he's
proposed $2.2 trillion of new spending. (Word inaudible) -- said
well, how are you going to pay for it? He said well, he's going to
raise the taxes on the rich. That's what he said. The top two brackets.
That raises, he says, $800 billion. We say $600 billion. We've got battling
green eyeshades. Somewhere in between those numbers. And so there's
a difference -- what he's promised and what he can raise.
Now, he's just going to break all of these wonderful promises he's told
you about or he's going to raise taxes. And I suspect, given his record,
he's going to raise taxes.
Is my time up yet?
MR. GIBSON: No, you can keep going.
PRESIDENT BUSH: Keep going. Good. (Laughter.)
MR. GIBSON: You're on a roll.
PRESIDENT BUSH: You looked at me like my clock was up. (Light laughter.)
I think that the way to grow this economy is to keep taxes low, is have
an energy plan, is to have litigation reform. Because I told you, we've
just got a report that said over the past 13 months we've created 1.9
million new jobs. We're growing.
And so the fundamental question in this campaign is who's going to
keep the economy growing so people can work? That's the fundamental
MR. GIBSON: I'm going to come back one more time to how these numbers
add up and how you can cut that deficit in half in four years, given
what you've both said.
SEN. KERRY: Well, first of all, the president's figures of 2.2 trillion
just aren't accurate. Those are the fuzzy math figures put together
by some group that works for the campaign. That's not the number.
Number two, John McCain and I have a proposal jointly for a commission
that closes corporate giveaway loopholes. We got $40 billion going to
Bermuda. We got all kinds of giveaways. We ought to be shutting those
third, credible -- ladies and gentlemen, in 1985 I was one of
the first Democrats to move to balance the budget. I voted for the balanced
budget in '93 and '97. We did it. We did it --
MR. GIBSON: Thirty seconds --
SEN. KERRY: -- and I was there.
MR. GIBSON: I'm sorry.
Thirty seconds, Mr President.
PRESIDENT BUSH: Yeah, I mean, he's got a record. He's been there for
20 years. You can run, but you can't hide. He voted 98 times to raise
taxes. I mean, these aren't make-up figures. And so people are going
to have to look at the record, look at the record of the man running
for the president. They don't name him the most liberal in the United
States Senate because he hasn't shown up to many meetings, they named
him because of his votes, and it's reality. It's just not credible to
say he's going to keep taxes down and balance budgets.