Remarks Prior to a Meeting With the Senate Finance Committee on the Tax Reform Bill

May 20, 1986

The President. Thank you all for coming down today. More importantly, thank you for all your fine work in getting a tax reform bill reported in your committee by a unanimous vote. That's got to be almost a first, at least for a long time. You've truly been doing America's business, and you've been doing it brilliantly. And as far as I'm concerned, you're now the ``A-Team.'' [Laughter]

This bipartisan spirit, I think, will be a tremendous boost in creating a binding commitment to the only special interest that counts -- and that's the American people, the ones who pay the bills in this country. And in particular, I want to thank you for eliminating needless brackets and lowering the rates to 15 and 27 percent, raising the personal and dependents exemption to $2,000 for middle- and low-income Americans, and providing a minimum tax so that individuals and corporations will pay their fair share.

Beryl and his group at the Council of Economic Advisers tell me that the added incentives and efficiencies could increase America's growth rate nearly 10 percent over the next decade. And that means people will be able to keep more of what they earn and thereby encouraging the entrepreneurial spirit, building a stronger and more productive economy. And that kind of growth would also, it is estimated, provide an additional 4 million new jobs over that same period.

You and your chairman, Bob Packwood, who couldn't be with us today, are to be commended for a yeoman effort to breathe new life into something that had been declared dead on more than one occasion since the effort had begun. And now we need to make sure the lifeline stays intact as this historic measure is considered by the full Senate when you get back from Memorial Day weekend. Not only will the American people benefit by your straightforward, hard-hitting proposal to return simplicity and fairness to the tax code, but the bipartisan coalition you've forged is a major victory for the democratic process that makes this nation great. And I think the American people join me in thanking you for your statesmanship in this.

And now, is Jim Baker here?

Secretary of the Treasury Baker. I can't get to my seat, Mr. President. [Laughter]

The President. Well, take off from there. That's a pretty good podium.


Reporter. Mr. President, what do you think about using the surplus for the deficit? First year -- --

The President. Well, Helen [Helen Thomas, United Press International], I'm -- --

Q. Have you made up your mind on it?

The President. I'm going to wait until we have the discussion here that will follow. Unfortunately, you all will have business elsewhere. [Laughter]

Q. You've been avoiding answers all day today.

Q. Do you want to answer the Saudi Stinger question now, Mr. President?

The President. No. No, I don't.

Q. Are you going to take the sting out of the Saudi package?

The President. This is the news subject now here. Thank you.

Q. Can't help trying.

Note: The President spoke at 11:40 a.m. in the Cabinet Room at the White House. In his remarks, he referred to Beryl W. Sprinkel, Chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers.