Monitor Breakfast

Selected quotations from a Monitor breakfast with Mitchell Daniels Jr.

Excerpts from a Monitor breakfast with Mitchell Daniels Jr., director of the Office of Management and Budget.

On what a war with Iraq might cost:

"I won't cite a range of figures because I don't know and no one knows. It depends entirely, as you say, on assumptions [about] developments that are not predictable at this time. We are looking at it under alternative scenarios. That is the most I can tell you right now.

"It could well be that we will continue to handle the war on terror funding ... on a supplemental basis as one option."

On whether other countries will help pay for war with Iraq:

"The idea that this ought to be a broadly shared cause is one the president has been speaking to, and we would hope the rest of the world would rally to [the cause]. I will observe that when you get straight to the dollars and cents, there is no corner of the developed world right now that is in strong financial shape. So, that is probably another difficulty as other nations consider what they will and won't contribute."

On using Iraq's oil to help offset the cost of the war:

"Potentially, it is a factor. I don't know nearly enough to give you a confident answer about that. There are multiple questions involving prior claims on the oil and assumptions about what the oil market would do in response to greater Iraqi production, etc. So potentially it is a significant factor, but again, probably not one we should count on until we know much more."

On raising taxes to pay for the war:

"There is absolutely no discussion or any thought of any new tax on this economy at this time. Taxation [in] this country is at very high levels. Per capita taxation has never been higher in real terms. Even after the drop off of the last year or so, taxation as percent of GNP is above its historical averages. It is not an under-taxed society right now. And, particularly in view of economic weakness, nobody should be talking about tax increases under these circumstances."

On new airline industry requests for financial assistance:

"I will see them this week and we will sort of listen. The taxpayers stepped up very swiftly – and I would argue effectively – at a time of real peril to that whole industry. In full view of the very real difficulties they are struggling with, at this point I wouldn't see further direct assistance.

"I think we owe them the courtesy of hearing them out first. I don't know all the ideas they may have. They are pretty inventive folks. I know they would like to be relieved from an obligation they took on to contribute the amount they said they were spending on security. From anything I know at this point, that was a fair deal at the time and should be honored."

On whether the government will balance its budget in 2005, as OMB predicted:

"I think it is going to be very difficult, which I have said, in view of both the revenue softness and the strong possibility of further spending beyond what has already been requested. As recent years have shown, there is a lot of volatility [especially with] revenues. From anything we can see right now, I would say it would be no better than [a] fighting chance."

On balanced budgets as a priority:

"A balanced budget ought to be a high priority but is not an end in itself."

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