NHPrimary.com: Bush says he models tax cuts after Reagan
By Kevin Landrigan/The Telegraph of Nashua, New Hampshire
January 20, 2000
Web posted at: 10:10 a.m. EST (1510 GMT)
NASHUA, New Hampshire (The Telegraph of Nashua) -- Republican presidential hopeful George W. Bush said his five-year, $483 billion tax cut plan is "step one" to
streamline tax law and stimulate the economy by cutting taxes, as former President Ronald Reagan proposed in
Bush said if elected the people will give him enough of a mandate to get Congress to pass this much of a tax cut
and defended his decision to reject a single-rate or flat tax such as that of GOP rival Steve Forbes.
"Ronald Reagan came out with a plan similar to this. He wanted to cut marginal rates in the early 1980s. It was only
until five years later when he earned capital that he took on the fairness of the code," Bush said during an
interview with The Telegraph editorial board.
Bush said he has proven as governor of Texas that he can deliver on tax cut promises, signing the two largest in
that state's history.
"Is tax cutting and leaning out the government and making the code more fair static? No, it's a dynamic process.
This is step one," Bush said.
Forbes has been attacking Bush on TV ads for signing a pledge in 1994 that he would not support any tax increases.
After the election, Bush had favored a plan the Texas Legislature rejected that would have raised Texas sales and
business taxes while lowering property taxes in his state by a larger amount.
"I've had a lot of history on tax cuts as you know from the ads," Bush said. "I've gotten results. Look at my record
On other issues, Bush would not rule out supporting more closures of military bases but first wants a top-down
review of all Pentagon spending.
"I am willing to listen to the recommendations of how the Defense Department intends to reconfigure the military
for the long term," Bush said.
And Bush conceded that his plan letting parents of disadvantaged children have vouchers if their schools fail to
improve may be unpopular in many rural areas, where there are few options beyond the public school.
"For them (rural parents), it probably won't work because the people won't accept it. I don't think you impose
vouchers on people, I think people must accept vouchers. I've seen that firsthand in my state," Bush said.
As president, Bush said he'd be an unapologetic supporter of supply-side economics, the theory that the way to
prevent or get out a recession is to cut federal taxes to spur economic growth.
"The boom we are now witnessing was fueled by two things, one, low inflation and (Federal Reserve Board
Chairman) Alan Greenspan has done a good job, and two, by the capital created by the tax cuts of the 1980s," Bush
"If the economy goes south, I will say it's important to cut the taxes to spur the economy."
Recent polls of New Hampshire GOP voters say they want the federal budget surplus spent more to retire the
national debt and preserve Social Security than to cut taxes as Bush proposed.
Bush said by preventing Congress from spending $2 trillion of Social Security surplus over the next 10 years will
reduce the federal debt.
Bush also criticized the plan of GOP rival John McCain to spend 62 percent of the non-budget surplus to cover the
cost of "family savings accounts" for the middle class and 20 percent to reduce the debt.
These measures, Bush said, won't work because Congress will spend any surplus money not sent back in tax cuts
on new programs, Bush predicted.
"I view appropriators with a jaundiced eye," Bush said.
Bush's most prominent New Hampshire supporter, U.S. Sen. Judd Gregg, then broke in, adding, "What I like about
Gov. Bush's plan is he wants to control the growth of government on the spending side."
And Bush said he'd use the line item veto to keep Congress within spending caps they exceeded in the last federal
"I'll veto and hold them to the spending caps they have agreed with," Bush added.
Whatever the criticism, Bush said he won't change his plan and pressed most strongly for lowering the income
tax rate from 15 to 10 percent for the working poor, who lose tax credits and now pay a higher marginal tax rate
than those earning more than $200,000 a year.
"That is not right. Some people are willing to accept that, I'm not, I'm not. I'm going to make this case loud and
clear. And if people don't like it, they can come down and go fishing with me in Texas," Bush said.
Bush declined to commit that as GOP nominee he would oppose any Republican National Committee plan that fails
to keep New Hampshire's primary and Iowa's caucus first in 2004 but praised both campaigns as important tests.
"I will tell you how happy I am with the system after the vote," Bush said.
"I am in a war. I like the idea of New Hampshire being the first primary, it causes candidates to really campaign
On education, Bush said all states must come up with their own accountability plans that include student
achievement tests and rebutted criticism that too much time is spent in the classroom on studies geared toward
getting high test scores and not on creative thinking.
"I tell myteachers, ‘Teach them first how to read, how to write and later how to do math and they will do fine,"'
"I'm a back-to-basics in education person."
In Texas, Bush said he got a Democrat-controlled Legislature to endorse a limited agenda laid out in his 1994
campaign both by working cooperatively with them and making them understand this is what the voters want.
"I trust the judgment of the American people. I thought the decision in 1992 was a little bit misguided, but I had a
biased view," Bush quipped, referring to the defeat of his father, President George H. Bush by Clinton that year.
Bush refused to say why he thinks morale in the military is so low – whether it's over-deployment of troops,
Clinton's attempts to evade the draft during the Vietnam War, the policy on gays in the military or all of the above.
Republican Frank Cloutier of Nashua, a member of The Telegraph voter advisory board and retired Air Force
veteran, said, "Every time I see Clinton return a salute it turns my stomach."
Bush then answered, "You just heard an opinion, I hear it a lot but that's not for me to say. I understand the
"The commander-in-chief must respect the military, must set a clear objective for the military which is be able to
fight and win war and therefore be able to deter war. That's only what it is for."
After the interview, Cloutier said Bush's education plans impressed him.
"I probably won't change my position for McCain, but he's given me a lot of pause to think about it," Cloutier said.
John Webber, a New Ipswich businessman and independent voter, said he viewed Bush more favorably having
met him and is among the GOP candidates he is considering voting for.
"I'm still concerned his plan does not do enough to reduce the debt," Webber added.