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. Brian

    Bush talking = Blah, blah, blah, blah.....

    Looks like he is stepping up for DarthCheyney while Dick recovers from an onslaught of negative press....

    Start the circus music.

    June 18, 2009 10:53 am at 10:53 am |
  2. Kevin -- Evansville, Indiana

    Bush's belief that economic anarchism is the best and only way has nearly led to a collapse of the U.S.

    How anyone could continue to maintain a belief that the government's role is to sit on it's hands and let corporations plunger consumers at will, borders more on complicity than stupidity. No one could honestly be this this dumb. Not even Bush.

    I don't know what a person would need as "proof" that the policies of economic anarchy don' work, aside from the recent economic meltdown. While the government may have played a small part, the majority of the blame falls on Wallstreet and the free market. Look at credit default swaps. The government's role in this was deregulation.

    The worship of a free market, or the invisible hands of a free market, is starting to feel like a cult to me. No matter what it does, the faithful continue to offer up sacrifices and supplications. As chunks of the U.S. crumble and fall into the sea.

    If anarchy works so well on the economic front, I wonder why these guys are so hesitant to apply the same policy to the social front. Let's just see how things turn out.

    June 18, 2009 10:53 am at 10:53 am |
  3. Keeth in California

    More fear-mongering.

    June 18, 2009 10:53 am at 10:53 am |
  4. white female

    He is a lair and greedy cheat. Just shut up, and get out the way of progress, who cares what you think or say. as always keep helping the rich.

    June 18, 2009 10:53 am at 10:53 am |
  5. RG

    It's only "socialist" when a Democratic WH proposes government programs. When a Republican WH does so it is somehow not an affront to private business or citizens' rights.

    Bush's economic policies worked GREAT! Just look at where we were when he left office... oops.

    Cheney and Bush and crawl back under their rocks any time now.

    June 18, 2009 10:53 am at 10:53 am |
  6. Whammybar

    I have to agree with him, he created an enviornment where the rich got richer. The price of oil went to record highs, the lack of oversight on Wall Street and thousands dead and wounded and billions unaccounted for to government contrators. Where are the WMD's George? The current administratoin might not have it right yet but look at the mess they have to deal with. Mission accomplished!
    By the way, look up socialism in the dictionary.

    June 18, 2009 10:53 am at 10:53 am |
  7. Chuck

    Ole george, after watching chaney mouth off about how our President Obama is attempting to clean up the mess that was made over the last eight years, just couldent be quiet and hope the American people would ignor him as they do carter. Wonder who is writing his speeches now? Rumsfelt ??

    June 18, 2009 10:54 am at 10:54 am |
  8. Mark

    Who cares what this loser has to say.

    June 18, 2009 10:54 am at 10:54 am |
  9. Anne

    "There are a lot of ways to remedy the situation without nationalizing health care," - Well George, you had 8 years to remedy the situation and did nothing. So now, sit down and shut up!

    June 18, 2009 10:54 am at 10:54 am |
  10. Jane

    George Bush should be in jail.

    June 18, 2009 10:54 am at 10:54 am |
  11. Mike S., New Orleans

    What Bush says means a lot, considering it was those same failed policies and principles he used to create two wars based on faulty intelligence, spent the biggest surplus ever left to an incoming president, and left the biggest deficit ever inherited by an incoming president.

    By what stretch of right wing logic could anyone possibly claim that his views are relevant rather than reckless.

    He gave us this mess. Period.

    June 18, 2009 10:54 am at 10:54 am |
  12. JM

    It looks like George just couldn't stand Dick getting all the press.

    June 18, 2009 10:55 am at 10:55 am |
  13. Lynne

    Why in the world would anyone listen to GWB? His policies have left this country is a mess. He and his administration wanted everything privitized and unregulated. This kind of conservative ideology, as well as their hallowed trickle-down Reaganomics, have failed most of the people in this country. Time to move on. Bush needs to get out of his elite cocoon he's been living in for 62 years. Maybe he'll learn something.

    June 18, 2009 10:55 am at 10:55 am |
  14. Juan

    And no one is listening...

    I think he needs to enjoy the rest of his life and get put of politics all together. He already did enough damage. Lets look forward to the future, not take advice from someone so clueless.

    Fairfax, VA

    June 18, 2009 10:55 am at 10:55 am |
  15. Eddie B.

    Bush needs to enjoy the millions he has just reaped from his oil boys for this war in Iraq and just shut up. He is the reason this country is in the shape it is in and has no ground to stand on. He sat back idle during the collapse of the economy and never came out to address the situation till very late. Of course he is for the private sector because big corporate America funded everything for him during his administration. His pushes were always for loose regulation and this is the reason the economy is where it is with corruption.

    June 18, 2009 10:55 am at 10:55 am |
  16. Harvey

    Bush need to shut up. He did nothing for eight years. He is the reason why we are in this mess. America has a Predident that will bring positive change to America and to the world. It is happened right now. There may be people at Gimto that will kill Americans and there are people in Ameica that will kill American. Stop trying to scare people, it won't work this time around. Go back to Texas your time is up. It's a day now

    June 18, 2009 10:55 am at 10:55 am |
  17. Lisa P

    Is it just me or was that speech 100% slogan, spin and hot air? Just another reminder of what Bush has to offer America: nothing.

    June 18, 2009 10:55 am at 10:55 am |
  18. Anonymous

    "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 EVER SAY DIFFERENTLY?
    Nope.

    Typical Republican ploy...complain about things that no one said or did. Like "terrorists in our communities."

    No one said that govt's role is to "create wealth" either. Straw Man tactics.

    And didn't Bush sign the first 800 billion bailout to the banks????

    June 18, 2009 10:55 am at 10:55 am |
  19. history repeats

    the private sector got us into this, they are the ones to get us out of it? if we havent learned to do the oppositte of wut bush says by now weve got problems!

    June 18, 2009 10:55 am at 10:55 am |
  20. Bob

    President Bush is welcome to his opinion, but why would anyone put any faith in what he thinks. It's his policies that got us into this mess in the first place.

    June 18, 2009 10:55 am at 10:55 am |
  21. Michael

    I think Bush should shut up and go back to his Cage. We have had private insurance companies run the Health Care and look what happened. What environment he is talking about that would create wealth?

    June 18, 2009 10:55 am at 10:55 am |
  22. Joe in CA

    So PRESIDENT Cheney is once again letting his puppet speak again.

    June 18, 2009 10:56 am at 10:56 am |
  23. John

    I think Bush might be right about something... Although I agree with Obama that we should have healthcare for everyone, I agree with Bush and other Republicans that we shouldn't have a government controlled option. If the government believes the private sector might not go in the direction they would like to see, then the government should offer incentives and not involve themselves as a health insurance player.

    June 18, 2009 10:56 am at 10:56 am |
  24. Paul

    Yeah. Dubya did such a bang-up job during his 8-year term, didn't he? Surplus to deficit, International relations in shambles, etc., etc., etc. Crawl back into the hole you came from...

    June 18, 2009 10:56 am at 10:56 am |
  25. AL

    Great man. True leaders speak from the heart not from a teleprompter. They also abide within the confines of their institutions, not place themselves above them.

    “Indeed men too often take it upon themselves in the persecution of their revenge to set the example of doing away with those general laws to which all alike can look for salvation in adversity, instead of allowing them to subsist against the day of danger when their aid may be required.” – Thucydides, Peloponnesian War

    June 18, 2009 10:56 am at 10:56 am |
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12