Donald Evans, U.S. Commerce Secretary

This is a partial transcript from Your World with Neil Cavuto, January 16, 2003, 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: Commerce Secretary Don Evans speaking out on these latest Iraq developments. In a FOX exclusive, he says the administration not surprised.


DONALD EVANS, U.S. COMMERCE SECRETARY: If it is true, is certainly sounds like one, Neil. But listen, Saddam Hussein has been deceiving the American people and the whole world for years. I mean, so this doesn't surprise me. I don't know that the facts on this, but I know a pattern of behavior over the last 11 years or so. And so this that has been reported this afternoon doesn't surprise me. We'll have to learn more about it.

CAVUTO: Do you think though this kind of speeds along this process, this debate of what to do with Iraq? Because as you know, the markets and the business community, things that you follow very closely, everyone is on tender hooks about this.

EVANS: Well, look, I am not sure, Neil, I am not going to get into that discussion. I know there's a lot of uncertainty out there. But there's not uncertainty at all in the president's mind about this regime needs to be removed. And it's a pattern of behavior over years and years and years. And so this country, the markets continue to see this president's determination. And we'll just see how this recent revelation plays out over the next several days or weeks.

CAVUTO: Was there a discussion in the administration, sir, about going it alone, if that's what we have to do?

EVANS: Well, you know, again, I'm not going to get no that. I am the secretary of commerce, that's really not my area. But you know, I think the president continues to be very clear to the country and the world about the need to remove this regime from Iraq. And it is not behavior over the last week or two, it's behavior over the last 11 years, and a pattern of behavior. And so you know, again, I think we'll just see how this plays out over the next several days, but I know Saddam needs to go.

CAVUTO: You know, Secretary, Democrats have been pouncing on these latest Iraqi developments as proof that we cannot afford the administration's tax cut program, that it is simply going to make deficits a lot worse. We haven't accounted for how much we'll potentially have to spend in Iraq. So some of them are saying dead on arrival. What do you say?

EVANS: Well, I say they don't understand really the basic formula for economic growth and returning this country to surpluses sometime down the road. And that is you achieve economic growth through cutting taxes and controlling spending. And that's exactly what this package is all about. It's about cutting the taxes for the American people over the next 10 years, about 95 percent-plus of the economic package that the president has laid out is tax cuts. And it's those kind of tax cuts that leave the money in the hands of the American people. They are the ones who create the wealth. They are the ones that create the jobs in America. And so it is this kind of tax cut package or economic growth package that will stimulate this economy and create new jobs, not only create new jobs but better jobs.

CAVUTO: But is there wiggle room there, sir? In other words that if it looks like we're getting into an Iraq conflict that might be longer or more expensive than thought, that the money that we thought - just stay there after we topple the government, if that's the intention, that that's going to be more substantial? That's there's any debate within the administration to giving up maybe some of the dividend tax cut rollback, some of the speeding up of some of the income tax margin accounts, any of that?

EVANS: Well, Neil, look, I think you have to keep it in perspective and understand the strength of this economy first of all. You can talk about how durable our economy is. It's made it through two world wars, a depression, nine recessions since the end of World War II. But this economy of ours is a $10 trillion a year economy. And the deficits that we're talking about right now, you look at the total debt of our federal government, it is about a third of the gross domestic product, which is a very manageable number. And when you think about just the debt service, the debt service today on the federal debt, is the lowest it has been in 20 years. And so we're in a very manageable kind of range and regardless of how much it costs to win the war, and we will spend whatever it takes to win the war, it is still not going to affect the overall management of the deficit or the debt that much.


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