Q Does the President think there's any need to maybe just take a deep breath and think twice about estate tax reform, or wait until next year to, sort of, see what the fiscal picture looks like?
MR. McCLELLAN: What are you suggesting?
Q I'm not suggesting anything. I'm asking a question to elicit a response.
MR. McCLELLAN: I think there are some spending increases that we could look at that we believe don't need to be permanent, so that's an area where we can look. And there are number of areas where we're discussing with members of Congress about how to cut some of that unnecessary spending.
Q Without tax cuts?
MR. McCLELLAN: Well, I talked about the importance of keeping our economy growing. Our national economy is a key lifeline to the region that has been devastated by Hurricane Katrina. And you have the child tax credit and earned income tax credit -- those are important tax cuts for people in the region that have been deeply affected by Hurricane Katrina. We don't want to take those tax cuts away from them. The worst thing to do right now would be to increase taxes on the American people (bold italics added), because it would have a terrible impact on our economy.
So, it's okay to screw with social security but not the tax cuts becuase the wealthy would be affected. Only screwing with social security has no bearing on the wealthy becuase they don't need SS nor do they care about SS.
Q And one other topic. You mentioned Social Security. Most people out there, including a lot of members of the President's own party, say this issue is dead completely. What kind of timetable does the President have for getting this going? And why does he think that, presumably, next year, he's going to have an easier case selling it?
MR. McCLELLAN: Well, as I mentioned, in terms of -- well, I'm not going to necessarily agree with your presumptions, but this remains a priority. In terms of the timetables, as I pointed out, we've got a very high priority right now, and that is -- well, two high priorities: Hurricane Katrina, the ongoing relief and recovery and rebuilding efforts; and Hurricane Rita, making sure we're prepared and able to fully respond to the needs of the people after that hits. In terms of other priorities, there were other priorities. We remain firmly committed to those priorities. They are important priorities. One of the issues that keeps coming up in this room is, what are we going to do to address some of the issues of spending. This is an area where we can address a long-term deficit problem, and it's also an area that we have an obligation to act on for future generations, for our children and grandchildren, who right now recognize that they're not going to -- they're not going to see anything from their Social Security checks unless we act. And it's an additional $600 billion a year each year that we wait, so there's substantial savings right there.
Q Has the President put estate tax changes and extending the tax cuts, making them permanent, has he put those on the back burner with the Treasury Secretary?
See Above for more on tax cuts.