June 18th, 2009
04:28 PM ET
5 years ago

Bush takes aim at Obama policies

Bush criticized a range of Obama policies Wednesday.
Bush criticized a range of Obama policies Wednesday.

(CNN) – In his most critical comments to date of the Obama administration's policies, former President George Bush Wednesday warned against the nationalization of healthcare, government overreach in the country's financial system, and the potential effects of closing the terrorist detention center at Guantanamo Bay.

"I know it's going to be the private sector that leads this country out of the current economic times we're in," the former president said during a speech to business leaders in Erie, Pennsylvania, according to the Washington Times. "You can spend your money better than the government can spend your money."

"Government does not create wealth. The major role for the government is to create an environment where people take risks to expand the job rate in the United States," he also said in the closed-door speech, according to the paper.

During the remarks — one of Bush’s first in the United States since leaving the White House - the former president commented on a wide-range of issues currently confronting the Obama administration, including the new president's push for universal healthcare.

"There are a lot of ways to remedy the situation without nationalizing health care," Bush said. "I worry about encouraging the government to replace the private sector when it comes to providing insurance for health care."

Asked directly if he thought his successor was embracing "socialist" polices, Bush stopped short of weighing in one way or the other, instead saying: "We'll see."

In a vigorous defense of his own national security policies, the president appeared to take issue with the new administration's early decision to close the detention center in Guantanamo Bay and ban the use of aggressive interrogation techniques.

"I told you I'm not going to criticize my successor," he said, according to the paper. "I'll just tell you that there are people at Gitmo that will kill American people at a drop of a hat and I don't believe that persuasion isn't going to work. Therapy isn't going to cause terrorists to change their mind."

Bush, in contrast to former Vice President Dick Cheney, has largely remained silent on the new administration's decision to prohibit the use of so-called enhanced interrogation techniques. But during his speech Wednesday the former president insisted he used "every technique and tool within the law to bring terrorists to justice before they strike again."

Bush also appeared to take a broad swipe at the tone of American politics in general, noting that partisan vitriol dates back to the founding fathers when Vice President Aaron Burr shot and killed Alexander Hamilton.

"At least when my vice president shot somebody, it was an accident," Bush said.


Filed under: Popular Posts • President Bush • President Obama
soundoff (295 Responses)
  1. William Duque

    I respect the Former President Bush. A man with an opinion not an unpatriotic attack on our President. Respectful!

    June 18, 2009 10:56 am at 10:56 am |
  2. cfrench

    And people listen to this man why? The man was an utter failure as president. Worst economy since the Great Depression, two wars (one of choice rather than necessity), 7,000 plus dead Americans on his watch (he only kept us safe for seven years, right wing kool-aid drinkers) and we care about his opinions why? Please. The best strategy for President Obama to follow is "What wouldn't Bush Do?".

    June 18, 2009 10:56 am at 10:56 am |
  3. Grandma Jeanne

    Still has that smirk on his face. He was a failure and should keep his comments to him self.

    June 18, 2009 10:56 am at 10:56 am |
  4. JM

    The fact of the manner is that neither George or Dick have any right to criticize (especially with regards to the economy and healthcare, both areas that they majorly screwed up on) since they did such a crappy job of running this country.

    June 18, 2009 10:56 am at 10:56 am |
  5. Cheri

    This coming from the man who got us into this big mess to begin with is laughable!!
    Bush and Cheney are just unbelievable.

    June 18, 2009 10:56 am at 10:56 am |
  6. lynn in NM

    Amen. The government can hand out as much money to the big companies as it wants. It will do no good. Wait til it hits your pocketbook in the form of taxes. Where will your spending money come from then? The only thing that will help this economy is the people, not Congress, Senate or President of the US.

    June 18, 2009 10:57 am at 10:57 am |
  7. judy

    The best thing about Bush is, he is NOT our President!

    June 18, 2009 10:57 am at 10:57 am |
  8. Vic

    Why is he opening his mouth? He was part of the problem.

    June 18, 2009 10:57 am at 10:57 am |
  9. Fresh

    Health care should not be a money making adventure. It should be a right that all citizens are given.

    The private sector got us into this financial mess, and now it is just going to get us out of it?

    Yeah, lets trust this guy who led us down the wrong path for years.

    June 18, 2009 10:57 am at 10:57 am |
  10. jim

    Guess he forgot it was him who nationalized companies, AIG, TARP 1, diverting funds from TARP to the automobile companies.

    Would be nice if he just fell off the face of the earth.

    June 18, 2009 10:57 am at 10:57 am |
  11. donttreadonme

    Good for you President Bush it is past time to start fighting back. Obama takes a shot at you every chance he gets. For an administration that claims to be looking forward they spend a lot of time in the past.

    June 18, 2009 10:57 am at 10:57 am |
  12. strong memory in Maine

    He had better mind his manners. Obama still has the power to investigate W's regime. Obama likes to look to the future so Bush could be off the hook for his high crimes, but if he makes the past part of Obama's present Bush could be in for a world of hurt and some indictments.

    June 18, 2009 10:57 am at 10:57 am |
  13. Don

    This man who got this country into so myc debt and other troubles wants the AMericans to give credit to ANYTHING he has to say? His arrogance still prevails even out of office. Perhaps he should be the one to have to forfeit his retirement to pay for all this debt.

    June 18, 2009 10:58 am at 10:58 am |
  14. JM

    "I told you I'm not going to criticize my successor,"

    Did I miss something, because that certainly seems like what good ole George is doing now.

    June 18, 2009 10:58 am at 10:58 am |
  15. Arron

    Bush criticizing Obama for cleaning up HIS mess is like a frat boy who sets fire to his frat house and then criticizes the firemen for using too much water to put the fire out. Laughable.

    June 18, 2009 10:58 am at 10:58 am |
  16. andrea

    Bush, Cheney, and co. have some nerve to be on the aiwaves after having ruined this country. What the Obama administartion wants to do with health care is to establish a baseline of minimum access to medical care for all Americans, such as Medicare does for seniors and social security does for everyone in terms of retirement income.

    Why in heavens' name are these republicans so afraid of an extra notch of social justice and humanity? It is as if they gloat in seeeing people in pain and mysery. People still can have their private insurance policies if they wish (or can afford) to do so.

    The irony is that they are always proclaiming their religiosity. How divorced are they from Jesus' teachings!

    To take the boogieman out of the word "Socialism": Tony Blair and Gordon Brown (both from UK), Segolene Royale (France' s opposition), and Germany's Chancellor Merkel - to name just a few –are all socialists.

    June 18, 2009 10:58 am at 10:58 am |
  17. Brian from Texas

    "You can spend your money better than the government can spend your money. Government does not create wealth. The major role for the government is to create an environment where people take risks to expand the job rate in the United States." – Bush

    Mr Bush,
    Does "TARP" not ring a bell? Prescritpion Medicare. No Child Left Behind. Or doubling our national debt in 8 years during times of economic prosperity.

    I'm sorry, but you have no credidibility when it comes to criticizing big government.

    June 18, 2009 10:58 am at 10:58 am |
  18. Rolling Barrel

    Well I wouldn't take his advice and opinion so seriously. They lead us down a road to ruin. Again, the same old rhetoric that have failed and been a major part of getting into the current messes that we are in as a nation.

    June 18, 2009 10:58 am at 10:58 am |
  19. chuck

    And we should consider you an expert because of how well the country did under your leadership?

    June 18, 2009 10:58 am at 10:58 am |
  20. Dave C - NJ

    "I'll just tell you that there are people at Gitmo that will kill American people at a drop of a hat and I don't believe that persuasion isn't going to work. Therapy isn't going to cause terrorists to change their mind."

    DID ANYONE SAY THERAPY or PERSUASION?? Nope.
    Typical Republican tactic: Complain about things that no one ever said or did.

    No one said govt's role was to "create wealth." It's called a straw man tactic...like "terrorists in our communities."

    And didn't W sign the 800 billion bailout bill in the first place????

    June 18, 2009 10:58 am at 10:58 am |
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