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

Bush takes aim at Obama policies

[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/06/18/art.bush1.gi.jpg caption="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. Ray

    "yeah the ""Private sector" always comes through...look how many people lost their private sector jobs,hours cut,lost homes. Yup the Private sector has done a stellar job

    June 18, 2009 10:49 am at 10:49 am |
  2. BeefMasterX

    It is apparent that Obama is in fact the understudy to Bush. He has kept his staff, kept his policies, and tried to emulate his great predecessor at every opportunity.
    Yet he has failed thus far to mimic Bush because President Bush inspired confidence in his economic policies across the globe. While the world media mocked him, the real players knew he got the job done.
    Obama is a one termer, who's next?

    June 18, 2009 10:49 am at 10:49 am |
  3. vernis Robertson

    He should have stayed slient . The reason why the rich don't want the President to touch healthcare it will stop people from stealing from the system . This all about making more money for the rich. Any and everything that have to do with helping the American people the Republicans are fighting it. Not one have a solution to anything , In their minds that healthcare is fine the way it is. This is the same former Presiden who wanted to privitize Social Security , yeah let's listen to him , Not .

    June 18, 2009 10:49 am at 10:49 am |
  4. Mark Robinson

    Is this fool still alive? George, go back to your cows and leave reality to those who live within it. Certainly there are ways to fix the health care system without nationalizing it, it's just that no one knows what they are, and certainly no one in GWB's time made even the slightest effort to fix the broken system. Regarding the private sector providing leadership, they certainly have done that, right into the black hole we are presently digging ourselves out of. George does not have the slightest idea how to solve the problems he left us with, although he does lighten my morning up with his foolishness. George, your village is still looking for YOU!

    June 18, 2009 10:49 am at 10:49 am |
  5. Edward Veidt

    Does anyone still care what this smirking buffoon thinks? November proved that an overwhelming majority of Americans strongly reject Bush and everything he stands for.

    June 18, 2009 10:49 am at 10:49 am |
  6. Thank goodness

    While some only wish to hear words they already believe, many of us have a desire to hear what we believe and what we do not in order to check ourselves and possibly have information in order to modify our own misconceptions. With that in mind, I welcome hearing Mr. Bushes opinions and comments. After all, the last 8 years are a drop of water in the ocean of what has brought us to this point. So get over it and let's move one- with debate betweent those who are or have been there. They both know more than we do- let's hear them debate with each other.

    June 18, 2009 10:50 am at 10:50 am |
  7. James Norman

    Prime Case of the Kettle calling the Pot Black.
    He and all his usless cabnet and frinds are the reason we are
    where we are now.
    Remember he and Chaney said theres not a problem, you folks are
    just a bunch of winers...!!!

    June 18, 2009 10:50 am at 10:50 am |
  8. Terri

    Bush has a lot of nerve. He and Dick Cheney are responsible for this mess we are in now. Republicans never ceases to amaze me.

    June 18, 2009 10:50 am at 10:50 am |
  9. JPC

    Bush's comments really tick me off. He says "there are a lot of ways to remedy the situation". If that were the case, then why didn't he implement some of those ways. Why is this still an issue???Bush's time is over. Time for him to sit down and observe since he didn't do anything.

    June 18, 2009 10:51 am at 10:51 am |
  10. keith B.

    And George Bush did what for Heath Care during his reign??

    June 18, 2009 10:51 am at 10:51 am |
  11. Larry

    Not sure I would listen to 'W' on financial issues..........

    June 18, 2009 10:51 am at 10:51 am |
  12. Roger

    Who in their right mind cares what GW or any republican thinks about health care, economy, Gitmo & so on....they got us into this mess & say NO to any solution that Obama has given....

    June 18, 2009 10:52 am at 10:52 am |
  13. Steve - Minneapolis

    As you say: "The major role for the government is to create an environment where people take risks to expand the job rate in the United States,"

    That means taking the burden of health care off of small business so it is easier for them to grow and hire employees. It is the role of government to level the playing field so domestic manufacturers can compete with their foreign competitors.

    Glad to see that GWB is in agreement with the Obama team's policy on this one. Even though he doesn't seem to realize it.

    June 18, 2009 10:52 am at 10:52 am |
  14. Jack from Illinois

    Why is this man talking and critiquing current president, thank you Mr Bush for creating this economical situation for entire nation, thank you for finishing your fathers’ unfinished business in Iraq. SHUT UP!

    June 18, 2009 10:52 am at 10:52 am |
  15. Nicole

    All this from the man whose policies wrecked this country for the past 8 years!

    June 18, 2009 10:52 am at 10:52 am |
  16. MP

    See Obama.... it's easy to throw darts from the cheap seats. I know it's early, but I'm still waiting to see all the positive changes with this new administration. Country seems less safe then it was 6 months ago. Third countris are openly building nukes. Detroit, the 11th largest city, doesn't even have a starbucks or a large chain grocery store anymore. (is that where Obama used to work?) It appears it doesn't matter who is president. We the people have to fix this mess similar to the message Bush speaks of. ....How many times does the coach win the basketball game? In the end, the players have to put the ball in the bucket!

    June 18, 2009 10:52 am at 10:52 am |
  17. James

    Bush claiming that risk taking is required to rebuild the economy... and once again demonstrating the kind of oblivious ineptitude that has resulted in the current crisis we find ourselves in.

    June 18, 2009 10:52 am at 10:52 am |
  18. JLW in Ala.

    This moron was in office for eight years, so why didn't he do something about all the issues faced by Obama? Now he wants to criticize any actions Obama takes. Please shut up and go away!!!

    June 18, 2009 10:52 am at 10:52 am |
  19. Lori in St Pete

    little georgie needs to keep his mouth shut and pray President Obama doesn't decide to call for investigations to all of the failings of the eight-year debacle known as the bush regime. If it wasn't for little georgie's failed and dangerous policies, President Obama wouldn't have such a horrible mess to clean up. Intelligent Americans are well aware that it takes far longer to clean up a mess than it does to make it.

    June 18, 2009 10:52 am at 10:52 am |
  20. Chuck Anaheim, Ca.

    Please stay in Texas and keep your mouth shut! You did absolutely NOTHING to prevent the crisis we are in now, as a matter of fact you were sitting on the sidelines for over a year while the recession was festering waiting for the private sector to correct itself. Thats why you were such an ineffective president. By the way the ONLY thing I wait for in this life is the day I die, the rest I will work as hard as I can to change or control!

    June 18, 2009 10:52 am at 10:52 am |
  21. anderson n carolina

    Here speaks the worst president ever.

    June 18, 2009 10:52 am at 10:52 am |
  22. jc

    ...and this opinion from a president who presided over a recession that started in 2007 and started a war over fictional WMDs and whose popularity ended up in the 20+ percentile.

    Grain of salt Mr. Ex-president! Grain of salt!

    June 18, 2009 10:53 am at 10:53 am |
  23. Grady

    go away george....

    June 18, 2009 10:53 am at 10:53 am |
  24. Peace

    Can anyone shout loudly in "W" ears who created all this mess!! He seems he has no idea at all!

    June 18, 2009 10:53 am at 10:53 am |
  25. WI Cheesehead

    Bush and fellow conservatives are still boxed in by their ideology. For once can someone just explain to them the meaning of “healthcare” and how “health insurance” doesn’t equate to healthcare? I have health insurance but affordable healthcare is still out of my reach. Get it?

    June 18, 2009 10:53 am at 10:53 am |
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