Paul O'Neill, U.S. Treasury Secretary

This is a partial transcript from Your World with Neil Cavuto, October 15, 2002, that was edited for clarity. Click here for complete access to all of Neil Cavuto's CEO interviews.

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REP. DICK GEPHARDT, D-MO, MINORITY LEADER: We could support our short-term stimulus effort by instituting a one-time immediate tax cut for working families and companies. This could come in the form of a $75 billion amount in rebates or credits for working families and a one-time tax incentives for company investments.


NEIL CAVUTO, HOST: House Minority Leader Dick Gephardt delivering his own plan at the Economic Policy Institute. He was not the only one, Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle, coming out saying that Wall Street is in the midst of a "grizzly bear market." Even the president has his own Treasury secretary on the road, and he joins me now from St. Louis for an exclusive interview.

Mr. Secretary, thanks for coming.

PAUL O'NEILL, SECRETARY OF THE TREASURY: It's nice to be with you, Neil.

CAVUTO: What do you make of this Gephardt tax cut proposal?

O'NEILL: Well, you know, I just heard it for the first time. I am actually in the congressman's district today, visiting the Boeing Company factory that's making a fabulous product for the Defense Department, the F-18, and visiting a little tool and dye company this morning that the third generation family company. It is part of what I have been doing now for the last several months of getting around the country and visiting the real source of economic income.

CAVUTO: Well, do you like the tax cut proposal of his?

O'NEILL: Neil, it's the first time I have heard of it, I just heard it in my ear, and I guess I am still a little stunned that the congressman has come around to tax cuts, that is somewhat of a surprise to me.

CAVUTO: It's interesting because as you know, Mr. Secretary, it comes at a time when others have been urging something to jump-start what many view as a stalled economy, and that we need some sort of stimulus in the form of tax cuts. Are you open to that?

O'NEILL: Well, I think we are open to every idea that might create a substantial improvement in the level of employment in our economy. One of the things that we keep urging, begging, pleading, insisting that the Congress do is to pass the so-called terrorism risk insurance. Congressman Gephardt is part of the leadership and the president has implored them to pass this legislation, because we think there is $15.5 billion worth of development construction work that would begin immediately if the terrorism risk insurance was passed.

CAVUTO: But if you took that out of the equation, Mr. Secretary, could you envision a simplified tax code as a way to long-term address all of those?

O'NEILL: Well, for sure our tax code is an abomination. But we are not going to fix that abomination with kind of sideswipe changes of the kind that congressman was just talking about. I want to finish my thought, though, Neil. There are 300,000 jobs associated with the Congress passing the terrorist risk insurance. If they want to know something to do, Congressman Gephardt and all your friends up there in Washington, pass the terrorist risk insurance. We will put 300,000 more people back to work in hard hats, those are great jobs, and there is nothing to keep you from doing it right now.

CAVUTO: But, when it comes to the tax code, we do have sort of the fact that there has been rumors about that you are looking at after the mid-term elections seriously addressing the tax code itself, that is still fair game?

O'NEILL: You're right. I am working away with my people to make sure that we have not left any good idea unturned, that we can put together in a package and talk to the president about to what degree he may want to entertain fundamental tax reform or simplification. Our tax system, all Americans know this is too complicated, there are too many people that are getting by without paying their taxes because it is too complicated, and it is hard to chase, people who would cheat their fellow citizens. And so indeed we are looking at ideas that would deal with those very basic problems.

CAVUTO: All right, Mr. Secretary, thank you very much, appreciate it.

O'NEILL: Great to be with you.

CAVUTO: Same here. Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neill.

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