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Man meets Bush for bill signing

May 29, 2003|By TARA REILLY

tarar@herald-mail.com

Hagerstown resident Tim Barrett was thumbing through a magazine at his Rockville, Md., business on Memorial Day when he got a second phone call from the White House.

A woman from the Office of Special Events had asked Barrett to make a second trip to Washington, this time to attend President Bush's signing of the third largest tax cut in the nation's history on Wednesday.

Barrett, who accepted the invitation, had attended Bush's April 15 speech from the Rose Garden in which Bush pitched the tax cut proposal.

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The White House thought Barrett fit the description of someone who would benefit from the proposal, and tracked him down through the Small Business Administration.

The new law will offer $330 billion in tax cuts to families, businesses and investors and $20 billion in state aid. Bush had originally sought a $726 billion tax cut.

Workers will begin seeing increases in their paychecks next month and eligible families will receive child tax credits of up to $400 per child. The bill also lowers the marriage tax and allows bigger tax write-offs for small businesses, such as Barrett's business, Wood World.

Barrett said the new law will triple his current tax deductions for new equipment and machinery from $25,000 to $75,000.

"This is literally going to help millions ... those who normally wouldn't get this relief," Barrett said.

Barrett said he was honored to be invited to the White House twice in such a short period. He attended both events with his wife, Jennifer.

During the April 15 visit, Barrett said he and several others met Bush in the Roosevelt Room to discuss the then-proposed tax cut.

Feeling a little nervous beforehand, Barrett said his uneasiness went away when the president walked in the room.

"All of a sudden he walked in," Barrett said. "He was very personable. He was very at ease, and he instantly put everybody else at ease."

Bush went over the details of the tax cut and then opened the meeting to questions.

"It was a really humbling experience to be a part of that," said Barrett, who said he sat across from the president. "Here was the President of the United States asking for my opinion and genuinely listening."

Barrett said he told the president how the tax cut bill would help his family and his business, which is a wood-working specialty retail store.

"He asked about my business and wanted to know what Wood World was," he said.

Barrett said Bush also joked with him, after he told the president he probably had the smallest business of all the companies represented in the room. Wood World has four employees, Barrett said.

"He said, 'That's four times larger than the smallest business,'" Barrett said.

After the 40-minute meeting, Barrett said he and three others were asked to stand near Bush as he delivered his tax cut speech in the Rose Garden.

Barrett said the president mentioned his name and the name of his business in the speech.

The next day, a picture of Barrett standing next to Bush at the podium was in the front section of The Washington Post, he said.

Barrett said Bush was the only president he had ever met.

"Living in the United States, it was just an incredible honor," he said.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.

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