Area residents offer reactions to Bush speech

February 28, 2001

Area residents offer reactions to Bush speech


President Bush championed a massive tax cut during his speech to Congress Tuesday night, and at least two-thirds of Tri-State residents interviewed Wednesday said they were heartened.

"I think it's great. I think he's great," said Helen Cianelli, 76, of Hagerstown.

Cianelli said she watched "every minute" of Bush's speech. "He's a breath of fresh air."

During his address to Congress, Bush touched on issues ranging from energy resources to campaign finance reform to a prescription drug plan.

But his paramount cause was a 10-year, $1.6 trillion tax cut.

"I think it's going to be a good thing," said Johanna Palmer, 70, of Hagerstown.

"They say it's just for the rich," she said, "but I think some of it will filter down."

David Dwyer, an Altoona, Pa., man who travels to Chambersburg, Pa., each week on business, said Bush's proposal would be a welcome relief for everyone.


"Everyone gets a break," he said. "It's not hurting anyone or taking from one group and giving it to another."

The upper class will get a higher refund only because their tax share is higher, Dwyer said. "It seems fair that those who overpaid more will get more back."

"It's hard to favor tax cuts in the face of not paying more for Social Security and education," said Martinsburg attorney Randy Conrad, 33. "But I think tax cuts are fundamentally a good idea."

William A. Kent, 76, of Blue Ridge Summit, Pa., said he believes the tax cut would benefit everyone. To what degree depends on what rates are set, he said. "If the cuts are across the board, then everyone will benefit," he said.

Kathy Winkler, 45, of Rouzerville, Pa., said Bush's tax cut "is right on the mark and long overdue. I'm also glad that he's a president who will be more for the people than for big government."

Winkler, whose daughter is in the military, also praised the president for "taking a bigger interest in the military. His proposed pay raise for military personnel is also long overdue," she said.

"I think he made a lot of good points, that he's not just pushing figures out of his head," said Rosemary Polinik, 53, who works at State Farm and lives in Martinsburg.

Gisela Stone of Beaver Creek said Bush's ideas so far have made sense. "I'm a Republican," she said. "I agree with what he says."

Others agreed with Senate Majority Leader Thomas A. Daschle, D-S.D., who said the trickle-down approach to economic vigor was "a huge mistake" in the 1980s.

Delivering the Democrats' response to Bush's address, Daschle said the tax cut, as proposed, is potentially harmful.

"It will probably give too much to the people who need it the least: The rich," said Steve Bond, 56, of Hagerstown.

"It benefits the rich," concurred Bing Fleagle, 69, of Waynesboro, Pa., who opposes Bush and didn't watch him speak. "We went through this with (Ronald) Reagan. Bush's dad called it 'voodoo economics.' ... It's the same people running it (now)."

Congress will never go for Bush's plan, said Shirley Smith, 62, of Hagerstown. "If he can work that miracle, it would be great. ... The numbers don't add up."

"The money can be better used to reduce the debt," said Duke Stouffer, 69, of Hagerstown.

Dave Torzillo, owner of Masons' East book store in Chambersburg, said he thinks a tax cut is a good idea, but that Bush's plan caters to the upper class.

"The common person won't get much of it," he said. "It will be enough for a cart of groceries. ... I don't think what he's doing will make much of a difference for most."

Conrad said the current economic condition might affect the plan's success.

"I think at this point in time, people are a little wary of tax cuts when the economic outlook may not be all that good," he said.

A few people were uncommitted, but leaning toward backing Bush's plan.

Beth Williams, 40, of Hagerstown, said she thinks Daschle will lead a push to greatly reduce the proposed tax cut.

"It will be bartered down, but it's still better than what's happening now," she said.

John Kraus, 27, of Brownsville, in southern Washington County, said he likes the idea of Americans getting their tax money back, but he hadn't heard specifics on where the money will come from.

"It's a good idea, but it's not going to help the average person," said Patty Rogers of Martinsburg.

Shannon Lee, 30, of Hagerstown, said he's optimistic about the tax cut. "If it can be implemented, it may work," he said.

It's time to reclaim the national surplus, said Marguerite Boudreaux, 72, of Boonsboro, who said she was "a former Democrat" because of Bill Clinton.

"If it's there, and they say it is, then I think it should be given back to the people."

Linda Royer, 49, of Waynesboro, Pa., remained skeptical.

"I don't know what I think of it," she said. "I don't trust anyone in government. Once Congress gets through mangling it up, I don't know what they'll come up with."

Dicky Miller, 43, a custodian from Martinsburg, said he was uncertain what the plan might mean.

"I hope Mr. Bush can do a good job because we really need it" he said. "But I don't understand what he means when he says he's going to give back to the people by household."

"I think it has yet to be seen whether it's a good idea or a bad idea," said S. Kamath, a homemaker from Martinsburg. "But I admire him for coming up with some idea."

Staff Writers Richard F. Belisle, Stacey Danzuso and Bob Partlow contributed to this story

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