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Ari & I: October 31, 2001

Russell Mokhiber questions White House Press Secretary Ari Fleischer

Russell Mokhiber questions White House Press Secretary Ari Fleischer

White House Press Secretary Ari Fleischer gestures as he speaks to reporters at the White House briefing room April 2, 2003 in Washington, DC.  (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)

Russell Mokhiber: The United States is dropping cluster bombs on Afghanistan. These are bombs that are yellow in color, the same color as the food rations -- they are the size of a soda can.

Public interest groups that crusade against land mines, including The Princess Diana Memorial Fund and the International Campaign to Ban Land Mines, have called on the United States to stop using them because of the threat they pose to Afghan civilians.

Is the President aware of this controversy over cluster bombs and is he going to do anything about it?

Ari Fleischer: I'm going to refer you to the Pentagon on all operational matters. The President is aware of the conduct, how the war is being conducted, and the President supports the actions, of course.

Mokhiber: I have a second question. Paul Krugman in today's New York Times, on the economic stimulus package, says that a group of Texas energy companies will get big checks from the government under this package. And he says they are disproportionate in size.

So, for example, while General Motors, which has 380,000 employees, will get a check for $800 million -- TXU, which is the former Dallas Power & Light, which has only 16,000 employees -- will get a check for $600 million.


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He points the finger at Vice President Cheney, saying that a group of Texas energy companies, including TXU, Enron, ChevronTexaco, will get these big checks.

The question is what role did Vice President Cheney have in developing this economic stimulus package.

Ari Fleischer: The economic stimulus package or the energy package?

Mokhiber: The stimulus package -- these are tax rebates, the corporate tax refunds.

Fleischer: First of all, the President has proposed the economic stimulus package to apply universally to lower and middle income taxpayers, to other taxpayers, in the case of expenses, which he has proposed, and in the case of corporate AMT, for all corporations that currently are treated under the tax code unfairly, because they are penalized for their investment plans. That was a proposal that was made by the President, the Vice President of course concurs with it, and that's where we stand.

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