STUART VARNEY, GUEST HOST: The Bush-Cheney campaign says corporate support for the president’s reelection has never been stronger. And doesn’t my next guest know it. Joining us now is Treasury Secretary John Snow.
Mr. Secretary, welcome to the program.
JOHN SNOW, TREASURY SECRETARY: Thank you. And great to be with you.
VARNEY: I don’t suppose you can quantify this for us, can you? I mean, we’ve got 200 people, execs supporting Mr. Kerry. Is everybody else in the executive suite for Mr. Bush?
SNOW: Well, what I know is, when I travel the country and talk to business leaders, small business, medium-sized, large business, they applaud the president for his leadership on the economy, for the tax cuts (search), for getting the economy going again, for the jobs and growth bill, for his leadership in torte reform (search), for his leadership in education, for his leadership in bringing the deficit down. So I think you will see the business community and business leaders support the leadership that the president has brought to the economy.
VARNEY: Two of my guests before the commercial break pointed out that the deficit (search) is their problem with the Bush administration. And, in dollar terms, absolute dollars, it has hit a record high.
Now, you are telling me Mr. Bush has brought it down? Maybe down from where the estimates were, but...
SNOW: We are in the process of bringing that deficit down. We view it as too large. It is unwelcome.
It is understandable in light of the war on terror and the collapse of the stock market and the recession. But it is too large.
The president is committed to cutting it in half over the course of the next five years, and he’s not just talking about it. The report that came out just last week indicated the deficit will be down some, oh, $75, $80 billion from the year — from the projections at the beginning of the year.
Now why? Well, because the economy is growing. And with the growing economy, government receipts rise.
VARNEY: But look, we had a small slip in growth rates in the spring and the very early part of the summer. It went down to a 3 percent growth rate.
VARNEY: Can you tell me that we are going to get back to 4, 4.5 percent growth in the second half of the year?
SNOW: I think we will.
VARNEY: Why? What’s going to push that momentum forward?
SNOW: Here are the factors that are driving the economy: high productivity, low inflation, low interest rates, strong exports, strong housing markets, strong construction, manufacturing coming back strong, with the best indices we have seen in 20 or 30 years. And importantly, real income. Real disposable income is rising. People have more money in their pockets. In part, because of the president’s tax cuts.
VARNEY: We keep seeing statistics, though, that workers’ incomes are not keeping pace with inflation. And, in fact, incomes are either dead flat or slightly down.
SNOW: Actually, those aren’t the right statistics. If you go back to the beginning of the Bush administration, earnings are up, compensation up, real earnings, after-tax earnings are up some 11 percent, which means Americans have more money in their pockets.
VARNEY: OK. Address another issue that was raised by Mr. Kerry at his economic summit today. He said under the Bush administration during his term, 1.8 million jobs have gone. Address that issue. Is he accurate?
SNOW: No, he’s not accurate. Actually, if you use the Household Survey, about two million jobs have been created. Even under the Establishment Survey which is — I think he cited, it’s closer to a million jobs that have been — been lost.
Those jobs were lost, though, because of a recession that the president inherited, because of 9/11, because of the collapse of the stock market, a whole series of wrenching experiences that hit this American economy. And despite that, despite that, because of the president’s leadership on the economy, it is now growing at the fastest rate in 20 years. And we are creating jobs month after month, 10 straight jobs — 10 straight months of strong job pickup.
VARNEY: Now, part of the problem for the slowdown in the economy in the spring and early summer was the rising cost of energy. In particular, oil and gas prices at the pump. Can you tell us if you have had direct contact with the Saudis, urging them to come out and say, we are going to pump more oil, recently? Have you done that?
SNOW: Well, yes, we have. And the Saudis, of course, responded by saying they would take their output levels up, raise the quotas. But there is more in the current prices than simply normal demand and supply. There is uncertainty about global stability.
VARNEY: OK. John Snow, treasury secretary, many thanks for joining us.
SNOW: Thank you. Great to be with you.
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