Mitch Daniels, White House OMB Director

This is a partial transcript from Your World with Neil Cavuto, November 6, 2002, 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: Tax cuts, keeping the ones we have, maybe proposing ones we don't have, those are some of the rumored focus points that the White House economic dream team is coming up with as we speak, especially now given the change in Congress. With us now, White House OMB Director Mitch Daniels.

Director, good to have you.


CAVUTO: Let's talk about tax cuts, I guess the first move you guys want to make is to get Congress to make the president ones permanent, right?

DANIELS: I don't know what will come first, but clearly the president supports that. And it would be useful for long-term economic growth, and proper planning and just for simple justice. We ought to end any uncertainty that the marriage penalty or the child credit or for that matter, rates on lower income taxpayers will ever be taken away.

CAVUTO: Director, there has been some talk as well that the administration is crafting a plan to completely revamp the tax code, not just tinker around the edges but essentially junk what we have and start from scratch, is that true?

DANIELS: Neil, there is really nothing to be said about that now. The president wants a full range of options and he is commissioned a look at everything from very far-reaching reform to simplifications of the code we have now. But he has not made any decision. He just wants to know what all his choices are, and we may be quite a ways from any decision he might make.

CAVUTO: I want to keep pursuing this, Director, if you don't mind, one idea that has apparently been linked to the Treasury secretary, Paul O'Neill, is something akin to sort of like a national sales tax that would slowly phase out individual income taxes. Is that something you're personally for?

DANIELS: Well, I don't talk about nor do I think what I personally think is too important. I would just say that the ideas like that ought to be looked at because the president ought not to have a full range of choices, but they also ought to be approached very, very carefully. And a key criterion for any change, large or small, ought to be, what does it do for economic growth? What does it do to get people back to work and get incomes up again.

CAVUTO: Director, there's sort of like a mixed bag when you take control of the Congress, there's really no one blame if you have problems. So now, there is more pressure on you, right? I mean, you have got to make sure that whatever tax cuts you propose don't burst the deficit I guess, and all of these other worries, the more traditional moderate members of your party have. Are you worried now that all of a sudden you have Congress going your way that there is a lot of responsibility with that, too?

DANIELS: What me worry?


DANIELS: Neil, the election results were very gratifying, but the results the president cares about are the passage of important parts of his program for the country that the last Congress was unable to bring off, starting with meaningful, well-organized defense of Americans here in the homeland. That really has got to happen to the extent that the change in control makes that more likely or makes, at least, the work of Congress more, that's great. But anything important has got to have the support of members of both parties. This president has operated on a bipartisan basis, he will need to continue doing that. And the best part about last night is really not partisan, it's about the improved chances to do right by the country's top priorities.

CAVUTO: Director, another thing happened last night. Harvey Pitt resigned and many insiders in Washington are saying that was the first of the economic dream team changes, and that others are going to follow suit, is that true?

DANIELS: I have no idea. And it's not for me to say. I think that the president is very much in charge of his own policy as well as personnel decisions. And I think most people believe he's chosen pretty wisely. I will except myself from any such conclusion, but chosen pretty wisely, across the board his foreign policy team, as well as his domestic team. And I think most people have confidence he will make the right calls in the future.

CAVUTO: Always a gentleman, Director, thank you very much.

DANIELS: Thank you.

CAVUTO: OMB Director Mitch Daniels, joining us from the White House.

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