Kerry Adviser Explains Economic Proposals

This is a partial transcript of "Special Report with Brit Hume", March 29 that has been edited for clarity.

Watch "Special Report With Brit Hume" weeknights at 6 p.m. ET


DEMOCRATIC PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE JOHN KERRY: Some may be surprised to hear a Democrat calling for lower corporate tax rates. The fact is, I don't care about the old debates. I care about getting the job done and creating jobs here in the United States of America.



JIM ANGLE, CO-HOST: Today, John Kerry (search) countered Bush campaign charges that he supports higher taxes, by proposing a tax cut, a tax cut for corporations.

Joining me to explain the senator's proposal to create jobs here at home is Roger Altman, former deputy treasury secretary in the Clinton administration, now an economic adviser for the Kerry campaign.

Mr. Altman, thanks for joining us, sir.


ANGLE: Let me first lay out the three principle elements of this. We've summarized here a little bit, so everyone can get their arms around what it is you're proposing.

There are three main points, really: one to reduce corporate taxes by 5 percent, give corporations a one-year tax credit for any jobs they create, and you would eliminate a tax provision that allows companies to defer U.S. tax on income earned from overseas operations. Is that a fair summary of what you are proposing?

ALTMAN: Well, it is a reasonable summary. But let's step back for a moment. First of all, Senator Kerry proposed today, to create 10 million jobs over four years.

That is something we did recently. We created jobs at a faster rate than that throughout the entire Clinton period, so we can do it again. It is a reasonable goal. It is a credible goal and he's committed to it.

ANGLE: As you know, economists usually base job projections on economic growth rates. Anything over about 3.25 percent is usually deemed to create new jobs. We've been growing at over 4 percent.

But productivity, meaning workers doing -- who are already working are doing more because of efficiencies in the economy, means we haven't been creating new jobs. How are you making that prediction for 10 million new jobs?

ALTMAN: First of all, we haven't been growing over 4 percent for the entire Bush period, not at all. We've grown at that rate very recently. Second of all, we simply believe that we can get the unemployment rate back to the level that prevailed, the 4 percent, 4.5 percent that prevailed during the final Clinton years, and return to that job creation rate.

As I said, we did it for eight straight years. There's no reason to say we can't get back to that. We have to begin by restoring confidence. That means...

ANGLE: What economic growth rate do you project for that period? What is your projection of jobs based on?

ALTMAN: Well...

ANGLE: What kind of growth?

ALTMAN: We're accepting the consensus private sector forecast, which would be essentially 3.5 percent to 4 percent in real terms, over the '05 to '09 period.

ANGLE: And that's essentially what people are projecting for the next year, even under the Bush administration?

ALTMAN: Well, that's true. But that would -- but President Bush has a record of having lost about 2.5 million jobs. He'll be the first president since Herbert Hoover (search) to not have created a single job during four years of a presidency. Hasn't happened in 75 years.

ANGLE: Right.

ALTMAN: So, if American -- our position is if the American voters want more of the Bush jobs records they should go ahead and give Mr. Bush another term. We don't think they're going to decide to do that.

ANGLE: All right. Let's just talk about specifics here. You are talking about a 5 percent tax cut on corporations.


ANGLE: Why cut taxes for corporations? I talked to the Business Round Table today, which represents 150 of the nation's biggest companies, they have always been for tax cuts, but not for them. They say we don't want the money. We want the money to go to consumers who buy our products. Why give it to corporations?

ALTMAN: Well, first of all, you have to look at this as a whole package. It is the most sweeping corporate tax overhaul, corporate tax reform in about 40 years. It begins with eliminating the incentive in the present tax code to put investment and jobs overseas.

Right now, corp -- U.S. corporations are not taxed at U.S. corporate rates on their foreign earnings. Since foreign corporate tax rates are lower than American rates on average 10 points lower, they're, in effect, rewarded for putting jobs and investment overseas. That makes no sense. That is crazy to have our tax system pushing investment and jobs overseas. We want to end that.

We're going to take the proceeds that are raised by eliminating that deferral, the money that's raised in doing that, and put it entirely into reducing corporate tax rates at home. Ninety-nine percent of U.S. businesses, 99 percent will get a tax cut under John Kerry's plan.

Also we're going to allow a one-year tax holiday, semi tax holiday, to allow the $640 billion of capital, which is stranded overseas because of the deferral provision...

ANGLE: Yes. You're trying to get people to bring that money home. But the reason we have that tax break is because they're competing against, say, Japanese companies, which pay no taxes at home on their foreign operations.

And you, have companies like, let's say automobile company, Coca-Cola, even H.J. Heinz, who sell a lot of products, 60 percent of H.J. Heinz products are sold overseas. So, obviously they want to invest their profits overseas because they are selling to foreign markets. You would make that more difficult, wouldn't you?

ALTMAN: Well, under the Kerry proposal, for companies -- for profits which are earned in foreign countries serving local home markets, General Motors' operations in China selling cars in China, the deferral benefit will continue. We're not going to remove that for companies in terms of their operations in local markets.

ANGLE: If they sell within that one country.

ALTMAN: That's correct.

ANGLE: Let me -- we're running out of time. So let me get to the other key part of your plan. And that is a tax credit for companies that create jobs. Now, we're already anticipating creation of jobs, both in the next year and you're anticipating in the next several years.

Companies are doing that because the economy is growing and jobs will be necessary. It will be necessary for companies to create jobs at some point. Aren't you paying people for what they are already going to have to do?

ALTMAN: No, because jobs aren't being created now. This Bush period has been the worst job creation periods in 75 years. If you look at last month's statistics, by and large, no jobs were created. So, the point is we're not creating jobs now. In fact, as I say over the last three year, we have been losing them, worst record in 75 years. We need an incentive to begin to create them.

That means restoring confidence. That means getting the gigantic deficits that President Bush has unleashed ,in terms of the budget, under control. Repairing our international relations, which are so frayed and also these specific incentives that Senator Kerry has proposed to jump start job growth. But we are not creating jobs now. That is the point of this program.

ANGLE: We've got about 30 seconds left. Most companies I've talked to say that it is demand from consumers that would make them create jobs, not a small tax break. About 15 seconds, sir.

ALTMAN: Well, I would say it is confidence. Right now there is an absence of confidence. Consumers aren't confident, businesses aren't confident, and investors aren't confident.

And they're not confident because of the deficits, the international -- instability and a variety of other factors. This program is aim at restoring that confidence.

ANGLE: Roger Altman, thank you very much for joining us, sir.

ALTMAN: My pleasure, thanks for having me.

ANGLE: Thank you.

Copy: Content and Programming Copyright 2004 Fox News Network, Inc. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. Transcription Copyright 2004 eMediaMillWorks, Inc. (f/k/a Federal Document Clearing House, Inc.), which takes sole responsibility for the accuracy of the transcription. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. No license is granted to the user of this material except for the user's personal or internal use and, in such case, only one copy may be printed, nor shall user use any material for commercial purposes or in any fashion that may infringe upon Fox News Network, Inc.'s and eMediaMillWorks, Inc.'s copyrights or other proprietary rights or interests in the material. This is not a legal transcript for purposes of litigation.