A Meeting with President Bush!

June 17, 2001

June 17, 2001

I was at the White House this week as a small group of industry leaders -- 24 to be exact -- met with President Bush, Dr. Larry Lindsey, the President's Chief Economic Advisor, and Secretary of the Treasury Paul O'Neill. We were in the Roosevelt Room across the hall from the Oval Office.

President Bush thanked us for our support in helping to pass his tax cut. This was also an occasion to get a first hand understanding of the President's agenda and priorities. Larry Lindsey called the recently signed tax legislation "a good step forward" but emphasized that the next priority must be to make the tax cuts permanent. And I say "Amen" to that!! As it stands now, the death tax is not entirely eliminated until 2010. So you need to live that long. Then you need to die in 2010 because he next year the tax is reimposed. Of course this sounds nutty but for budgetary reasons they do nutty things.

President Bush told us that two of his next priorities would be (1) to preserve social security and create personal saving accounts to supplement the government's role and (2) to secure passage of fast track trade negotiating authority for the President. In that regard, the White House has asked me to line up the support of all former Secretaries of Agriculture to give the President the negotiating authority. When I get the supporting letter signed, I'll let you know.

The President made clear his skepticism of the causes of global warming and said he intended to stand his ground against his European critics. A final and very important point that we can monitor, he said he would hold the line against the Congress if they try to bust the budget by exceeding the 4% growth rate agreed to. Good luck!

This is John Block, reporting from Washington.