The Bush Economy

This is a partial transcript from "Your World with Neil Cavuto," May 28, 2004, that was edited for clarity.

NEIL CAVUTO, HOST: Another guy who knows something about emergencies and how to handle pressure, the president's right ear, if you will, his chief of staff, Andrew Card.

Mr. Card, can you hear us?

ANDREW CARD, WHITE HOUSE CHIEF OF STAFF: I can hear you, and it's great to be with you. Thank you. I just ran up this stairs, so I'm a little out of breath.

CAVUTO: Well, thanks for joining us.

Let me ask you right now, I have been talking to a lot of our bravest here, sir, and they seem to indicate, a man and woman, they are still in this for the long haul. They know the war on terror is not an overnight battle. What do you think of that and what you have been hearing?

CARD: Well, they are exactly right. You know, the president has the resolve to see this war on terror through. And he knows that it will be a long war, and it will have many different battles.

We had one battle in Afghanistan. We have a battle going on in Iraq. It's very important that we continue to win these battles as we fight the war on terror. But the war on terror is very important for us to win, not only for the United States of America, but for civilizations around the world who respect the rule of law.

CAVUTO: Are you concerned, Mr. Card, as the president's chief of staff, that while the president scores highly on the war on terror, his poll numbers are dropping in almost every other category?

CARD: Well, to be honest with you, the economy is moving very, very well. And I think most people recognize that. And a poll today doesn't mean as much as most people talk about. And, in fact, I think the president is very well positioned.

He understands that his paramount responsibility is to protect and defend the people of the United States and our Constitution. And he will do that. His budget reflects that priority.

He also knows that he has to be the best steward of the taxpayers' money. So he's going to make sure that the budget that is passed by Congress will respect the taxpayers and the fact that the money is theirs. And he has said that he wants our economy to grow. And the policies that he put forward have now indicated that the policy is working because the economy is growing.

We have added 1.1 million jobs since the first tax cuts were passed. We've also seen that we've had dramatic improvements in unemployment, we have had dramatic improvements in consumer confidence, in manufacturing confidence. Profits are up.

So almost every economic indicator is pointing in the right direction. He is concerned about gasoline prices, and he's raised that concern with the appropriate people. But the economy is moving forward, and people understand that. And jobs are coming back.

CAVUTO: But let me ask you something, Mr. Card. The fact that gas prices remain high, and the president has indicated that he is not going to tap the petroleum reserve, what can or even will he do to ease the pain?

CARD: Well, first of all, he understands the problem, and he knows that it is a problem that doesn't have a short-term, simple solution. He wishes that Congress had passed an energy bill. And if they had, we wouldn't have the problem that we have today.

He wishes that we'd be able to get the resources out of ANWAR so that we could have more domestic-produced oil rather than depend on foreign oil. And he knows that we have to conserve and be smart about how we allocate our resources within the energy sector. But there is no short-term, quick solution to this.

CAVUTO: But as far as tapping the reserves, sir, that is out of the question, not going to happen, right?

CARD: Well, you know, the president says he wants to have the reserve there to meet any unforeseen expectation and shock to our nation. And since we are under a threat in this country that comes from terrorists who want to do us harm, I think it would be irresponsible for him to tap the reserve just to meet a short-term economic concern or a concern that others might call political. So I think that he will keep the reserve there to meet the intended purpose of securing us if, in fact, we have another attack, or there is a shock to our overall world economy and energy prices would skyrocket even higher than they are today.

CAVUTO: Let me ask you about what you said about the president's resolve on the budget and to try the keep the numbers true. A lot of conservative members of your party, sir, said that this president has not really matched policy with, you know, the lingo here, that he is going to have to start vetoing something. Maybe the highway bill, maybe something to show that he means what he says.

CARD: Well, I think the fact that he hasn't had to veto anything means that Congress has been listening and responding pretty well. The Republicans in Congress have also been pretty good stewards of the taxpayers' money.

But there is a highway bill that Congress is considering. And the president said, if you pass a highway bill that is excessive, he will veto it. And I know that that is this case, because he sent me to the Hill to convey that message over and over again. Both the House and Senate passed highway bills that are bloated and much too big for what the country can afford right now, and the president...

CAVUTO: So as they stand now, Mr. Card, he would veto it?

CARD: The bill that was passed by the Senate, at $318 billion, is much too big, and it doesn't comply with the principles the president outlined. And he has said he will not sign a bill that doesn't comply with his principles.

CAVUTO: All right. Andrew Card, you did OK running from those stairs. We appreciate it.

CARD: Well, thank you very much, Neil.

CAVUTO: The White House chief of staff, Andrew Card.

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