THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary
REMARKS BY THE PRESIDENT IN PHOTO OPPORTUNITY AT BLACK CAUCUS BREAKFAST
The Old Family Dining Room
8:52 A.M. EDT
THE PRESIDENT: Let me say, what I'm trying to do is pass this program in the House. I do one step at a time. I think it's clearly, of all the things that have been presented, the fairest program. It has significant budget cuts, reduces the size of the federal government by 150,000, leaves some room for investment, 74 percent of the tax is paid by six percent of the people. It's a fair program.
It will cost the average person a dollar a month next year, $7.00 a month the year after, $15 a month the year after for a family. And it exempts people of incomes under $30,000. It is a fair, balanced program. I'm going to try and pass it.
Q Sir, what are you telling members of Congress who are worried that they could lose their seats because of some of the tougher elements of this package?
THE PRESIDENT: That all the evidence shows that the more people know about the details of the package, the more likely they are to support it. And that if it becomes a rhetorical battle where anyone says that it's tax and spend, well, who's for that? Nobody's for that. But the American people are for bringing this deficit down. They are for investing in jobs and technology. They are for a fairer tax system that asks everyone to pay their fair share. And they are for a system that moves people from welfare to work.
This program does all those things. It is a very good program. There is no evidence that once people know the facts that they will do that.
Q What are you going to do to make sure they know the facts? Are you going to go on nationwide radio and TV before the House votes?
THE PRESIDENT: I don't know that that is possible or that it will be done before the House votes. But what I have told them is that the day that the people had the most detailed knowledge of this plan was February 17th. That's when people -- because I went through the whole thing, chapter and verse. So nothing was hidden from the American people. It was all given out.
What has happened since then is -- you know, there's a lot of static and back-and-forth. And the President can't go on television every night for that length of time, but that is clear evidence that the more people know about it the more likely they are to support it.
Just today I'm going to see some more of the business executives who will pay more in this plan who have supported this. Yesterday, Mr. Rostenkowski listed 50 major companies who are supporting the program. We have small business people all over America who are supporting the program -- realtors and others, consumer groups. So the people who know more about the program, the more you know about it the more likely you are to be for it.
Q But isn't energy the hang-up? Mr. President, isn't energy the hang-up?
THE PRESIDENT: It is a big hang-up. And we're working --
Q And how about Boren? Are you going to be able to work with him?
THE PRESIDENT: Well, I hope so. We're working through it. I think that it is now apparent to everyone that there are only two plans on the table in the Senate and that ours is far fairer and better for the economy. I mean, the other plan reduces the tax on -- for the oil interest in Oklahoma and elsewhere, but it does it at the expense of putting a $40 billion burden on Social Security recipients and lower-income working people just above the poverty line. It also would shift massive health costs away from the government on to private employers and employees. I don't think they're for that.
So as you -- now that we've got an alternative out there, it shows you that our plan is sound and balanced. We're just going to keep working at it.
END 8:57 A.M. EDT