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Cabinet Meeting

Aired February 2, 2004 - 10:08   ET


DARYN KAGAN, CNN ANCHOR: We have videotape coming that was in shot in the White House, President Bush holding his cabinet meeting. Let's listen in.

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: ... good, honorable people who have come to Washington, D.C., to put the nation's interest above their self- interest. We had a good discussion today about our nation's priorities. Secretary Powell briefed us on the alliances -- the strong alliances we have around the world. Deep desire to continue to work with nations to bring freedom and peace around the world.

Secretary of defense briefed us on the progress we're making in Afghanistan and Iraq. Appreciate the briefing I got from Tom Ridge about the homeland security efforts. And we got a lot of really fine people in the country who are working overtime, long hours to protect the American people, and they're doing a really fine job.

And finally, Josh Bolten gave us a briefing on our budget. This administration's put together a budget and will be submitting it to Congress which sets clear priorities: winning the war on terror, protecting our homeland, making sure our children get educated, making sure the seniors get a modern Medicare system.

And at the same time, we're calling upon Congress to be wise with the taxpayers' money. We look forward to working with them to bring fiscal discipline to the appropriations process so we can cut the deficit in half over a five-year period of time.

BUSH: Again, I'm proud of the Cabinet. I appreciate your work.

I'll be glad to take a couple questions.

QUESTION: Mr. President, I'd like to ask you about this intelligence investigation that you're going to order. Do you think that the country is owed an explanation about the Iraq intelligence failure before the election, so that voters have this information when they elect a new president?

BUSH: Well, the -- first of all, I want to know all the facts.

We do know that Saddam Hussein had the intent and the capabilities to cause great harm. We know he was a danger. He was not only a danger to people in the free world, he was danger to his own people. He slaughtered thousands of people, he imprisoned people. What we don't know yet is what we thought and what the Iraqi Survey Group has found and we want to look at that. But we also want to look at our war against proliferation and weapons of mass destruction in a broader context.

And so I'm putting together a independent bipartisan commission to analyze where we stand, what we can do better, as we fight this war against terror.

And before I move forward with the commission, I want to sit down with Mr. Kay. I appreciate his service. I've invited him to come down to the White House. I'll be doing so soon. I do want to get a briefing from him.

QUESTION: Sir, do you worry that your budget passes along problems for future generations? You often say you don't want to do that.

BUSH: No. I'm confident our budget addresses a very serious situation. And that is that we are at war and we are dealing -- had dealt with a recession. And our budget is able to address those significant factors in a way that reduces the deficit in half.

And we propose, the Congress disposes. And so we look forward to working with the appropriators to meet our priorities and to reduce the deficit in half. We're confident we can do so.

The reason we are where we are in terms of the deficit is because we went through a recession, we were attacked and we're fighting a war. And these are high hurdles for a budget and for a country to overcome and yet we've overcome them because we've got a great country full of decent people.

And the economy's getting better. And as the economy gets better, it enables us to send up a budget to Congress that does cut the deficit in half.

STAFF: Thank you.


KAGAN: A brief look inside today's cabinet meeting. President Bush allowing cameras in there just for a bit, and then that videotape being played.

The president dealing with two key issues there, one, the announcement that there will be a bipartisan, independent commission looking into the intelligence community and the intelligence that came up with the idea that there were weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. President Bush, of course, using that as a basis for going to war with Iraq. No weapons of mass destruction have been found yet. It will be a bipartisan commission, nine-member panel. A deadline in the middle of next week.

Also talking about the budget and the deficit, two concerns to many Americans, and increasingly to Republicans concerned about the rising deficit of the United States.


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