This is a partial transcript from Your World with Neil Cavuto, March 12, 2003, that was edited for clarity. Click here for complete access to all of Neil Cavuto's CEO interviews.
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NEIL CAVUTO, HOST: You might just call them the three amigos, the president's point men to sell that huge tax cut that he wants. And in a FOX exclusive, they decided to make their pitch here on Your World, Treasury heavyweights all, who say the president will get what he wants.
PETER FISHER, U.S. TREASURY UNDERSECRETARY: One of the things that the president has taught me is that the way you get things done in Washington is you say what you believe, mean what you say, and you fight as hard as you can to get it. And I think is he convincing some people internationally and domestically if you look at what we did getting the first tax package through, that you say what you want to accomplish, and you keep fighting. And that is how you maximize the likelihood you get all the things. And that is what we are doing.
CAVUTO: Well, Secretary Olson, here is the problem I have, that apparently a lot of Republicans have problems with this in the Senate, no one doubts that this package will have much difficulty going through the House. It is in the Senate that there is a problem. And Susan Collins, Republican of Maine, said, I am increasingly thinking the right decision may be not be to support any plan until the fiscal situation is clear. So she is essentially saying no deal until it is.
PAMELA OLSON, U.S. TREASURY UNDERSECRETARY: Well, we think that is backwards, perhaps. One thing that is clear is that we need growth in the economy in order to take care of the fiscal situation. And what the president has proposed is something that is intended to raise economic growth in the economy. So we think we need to do this first and then fiscal situation follows (ph).
CAVUTO: But you are not calling it a stimulus package?
OLSON: No, we are not calling it a stimulus package because this really is about supporting long-term growth in the economy. Even though we are not calling it a stimulus package it still does deliver a lot of tax benefits to the economy in this year.
CAVUTO: Here is - and you guys are the experts on this, with Secretary Clarida, we will raise it with you, would it have been better at the outset, just playing the PR game, for to you call it a stimulus package and to force the point that this would have an immediate benefit to the economy in the eyes of skeptical congressmen and women who aren't so sure of that?
RICHARD CLARIDA, U.S. TREASURY UNDERSECRETARY: Well, no. We think that it is a growth package because of the way it will be implemented, it will real and tangible benefits to the economy this year. We think that by.
CAVUTO: How real and how tangible?
CLARIDA: Well, we think.
CAVUTO: Think GDP.
CAVUTO: ...using that as a....
CLARIDA: By the end next year, we believe there will be 1.5 million additional jobs with this package than without it, GDP will be almost 2 percentage points higher. And more importantly, Neil, those gains will be enduring for years to come because this is not a one-shot stimulus to the economy. It is enduring growth at the right time.
CAVUTO: Here's the rap against it, that it's going to cost too much money, and that we don't have that money. Senator Breaux, of course, who is one of the swing votes last time for the original tax package, is on record against this one unless we cheapen it down. Are you for cheapening it down?
FISHER: No, we are for making sure we grow the economy. That really is where federal revenues came from. We would like to get back to surplus. We know deficits matter. We would rather not be running deficits but the right way to back to bringing deficits down and moving towards surplus is to grow the economy, grow the revenues. And that really is the right answer to the fiscal dilemma.
CAVUTO: But you know, the Democrats and some moderate Republicans are raising these deficits as a big issue. Are you folks worried that that is going to be an issue, that we are looking at $500 billion or better deficits going forward?
CLARIDA: Let me just say about that, obviously deficits are not desirable. But in this context they're understandable. The president inherited an economy in recession. It's growing but not growing rapidly enough. The world economy is in a slump. Even with this package the deficits will be small by both international and historical standards.
CAVUTO: You mean a percentage.
CLARIDA: As a percentage of GDP, and they will be declining as...
CAVUTO: Did you buy the Congressional Budget Office numbers that they were talking well over a trillion dollars?
CLARIDA: Well, you know, Neil, the bottom line of those CBO numbers is that over a five-year window, their estimates were very similar to the OMB numbers, which is that the deficits will be declining as a share of GDP.
CAVUTO: And by the way, they're not very accurate, are they? I mean, they're not really worth the paper they're printed on?
CLARIDA: Well, forecasting fiscal position is - which is what Mr. Fisher does for a living, is a real challenge the further out you go.
CAVUTO: Well, let me ask you. One of the issues that was raised when I was amongst some economic reporters who had a chance to sit down with the president a couple of weeks ago, he seemed to imply, and I don't want to put words in his mouth, that the 100 percent cut in the dividend tax was a non-negotiating position. In other words, he wasn't going to debate that. It is either all or nothing. Did I read that right?
OLSON: Well, the president firmly believes that this is an important principle. What we need to do is align our tax system with our best economic interest. And right now.
CAVUTO: But does that mean not even entertaining, or let's make it 50 percent?
OLSON: Well, we are definitely not talking about that right now. What we are trying to do is get to the right answer. And the right answer is to tax that dollar of income once, and only once. And so that is the principle that the president has laid down and what we are trying to push through. There is no principle basis for taxing that dollar of income 1 1/2 times or.
CAVUTO: I know the principle is...but you know how Washington works, you guys are good numbers-crunchers.
FISHER: The impact, we are just not going to get half the impact for doing half the change.
CAVUTO: What about half.
FISHER: . the total cost?
CAVUTO: I know you specifically don't look at this as a cost, and many agree with you by the way, but if moderate Republicans and Democrats have their way, they want to make this 350 or $360 billion over the 10 years rather, about half of what the president is looking for, would you be open to that?
FISHER: What we want to do is have an impact on the economy. Now these are big numbers. They are certainly big numbers for families and for individuals, but if you look at the size of our economy, over the next 10 years, this is - you would have to do something around $750 billion to have an impact on an economy the size of ours, this is a big economy. It's.
CAVUTO: Here's what I've heard from some of the Democrats, and you guys are free to dismiss what they are saying, but one idea was, why don't we take the upper income tax issue, the marginal rate, and rather than speed it up, keep it on its existing timetable. Is that something in the back of your minds that the White House is open to?
CLARIDA: I don't think that would be good economics, and.
CAVUTO: Even though they are going to play the class warfare.