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. Patrick, St. Louis

    It is profoundly audacious of Mr. Bush to think he still has an ounce of credibility in this country. I'm pretty confident that his successor needs Bush's advice like he needs a lobotomy.

    June 18, 2009 10:18 am at 10:18 am |
  2. Kevin 95

    "There are a lot of ways to remedy the situation without nationalizing health care," Bush said.

    So you had 8 years to help "remedy the situation" the situation, but you didn't. Heck, you didn't even want children to have health care. Sorry Bush, but you still don't have the credibility to speak on any of the topics after you left us in this quagmire.

    June 18, 2009 10:19 am at 10:19 am |
  3. Enough

    Let the Bush bashing begin!! Sniffit will be along with some lame comment, I'm sure. Too bad people on this board are so consumed with what Obama can give them, that they don't have a clue or any common sense. Like little parrots we will hear how terrible the last 8 year were, when in reality most of them were pretty great, with a booming economy and anyone who wanted a house or job had one. You blame Bush for the housing downfall, how about doing some research and looking at Clinton who started the home opportunity to everyone and ending with your buddy Barney Frank who refused regulations years ago!! If any of you can read, do some research. And not from MSNBC! People who took these loans have to accept responsibility. You know what you can afford, it's up to you to read your contract and understand it.

    June 18, 2009 10:19 am at 10:19 am |
  4. Paul from Phoenix

    Actually, it looks like he was pretty respectful. He didn't name Obama. He gave his opinion on political topics, which will inevitably lead to conflict with the Obama policies. But it seems like he did it in a respectful way.

    THis seems like the media playing instigator in the schoolyard, trying to get two people to pick a fight. This is why politics are so nasty today.

    June 18, 2009 10:19 am at 10:19 am |
  5. Abel

    Bush have no Moral grounds to advise Obama on policies , he had eight years but served the interest of an oligarchy just shut up Bush Man

    June 18, 2009 10:19 am at 10:19 am |
  6. mjm

    President Bush made some very good points.

    Despite the headline, he was not critical of Obama. In fact, he has gone out of his way not to be critical. He simply said "we'll see".

    Republicans feel the private sector should lead the way when it comes to the economy.

    It was a closed door speech. He's not Al Gore screaming "he played on our fears!"

    Can't wait to see what liberals post about this. Let me guess...you hate him.

    June 18, 2009 10:19 am at 10:19 am |
  7. Jack

    This is the last person I would take advice from on how to run this country !

    June 18, 2009 10:20 am at 10:20 am |
  8. Chris

    It's a shame Mr. Bush wasn't this knowlegable on economic, domestic and geopolitical issues while President. If he had been, I might have a job and health care today.

    June 18, 2009 10:20 am at 10:20 am |
  9. windfall

    Because Bush would know about all this. He's the one who brought us to this point of disaster. Moron.

    June 18, 2009 10:20 am at 10:20 am |
  10. kk

    I wish more people would listen to this arguement. No one is noticing that the government keeps taking more and more freedoms away. They are going to control our financial institutions and our health care system...do we really want the government to handle healthcare when they can't even manage medicare. Do we really want to let them chose who lives and who dies.

    I did not go to college and devote myself to the american dream so that the government can regulate how much money I am allowed to make etc. Where will this stop?

    June 18, 2009 10:20 am at 10:20 am |
  11. Jerry

    Bush wants to critize our President for leading us out of a depression and clearing up a mess that he put us in, really? If Bush would have had the ability to lead this country for the peoples benefit and not his and Chenny's, we wouldn't be in the mess we are in today. I think that President Obama is doing an outstanding job and I support him in every way. Bush needs to hide back in Texas and keep his mouth shut. There could have been a line of Presidents critizing Bush's failures and lack of leadership while he was in office, but they had the professionalism and courtesey not to do so. Once again Bush has shown the public his inability to do anything except run off at the mouth. REALLY!

    June 18, 2009 10:20 am at 10:20 am |
  12. Marcia, Marcia, Marcia in CA

    So much for respect and silence from one of the worst presidents ever.

    Yeah, let's all listen to this loser.

    June 18, 2009 10:20 am at 10:20 am |
  13. Chuck

    The corrupt Mr. Bush is always wrong and never tells the truth, so don't give him a microphone. Mr. Obama, stop avoiding your responsibility and prosecute Bush for his countless high crimes and misdemeanors. Your presidency can't succeed otherwise.

    June 18, 2009 10:21 am at 10:21 am |
  14. John Black Hills/SD

    This guy is just as big an idiot today as he was as president. Crawl back into your beer can slugo.

    June 18, 2009 10:21 am at 10:21 am |
  15. Winthrop Clayburn III

    George Bush, Richard Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, et al. are guilty of war crimes and should be brought to justice and tried in order to restore the world's faith in the United States of America.

    June 18, 2009 10:21 am at 10:21 am |
  16. DeMj

    While I agree with Bush that it's the private sector that make America wealthy, I disagree on having private sectors run healthcare. Life is first before $$.

    June 18, 2009 10:21 am at 10:21 am |
  17. Oskar

    "We'll see."? I guess that means that Mr. Bush had to first look for "socialist" in the dictionary. I am so glad that these people are part of the past, just like a bad nightmare.

    June 18, 2009 10:21 am at 10:21 am |
  18. JonDie

    George W. Bush should be in court right now being tried for crimes against the US as well as crimes against humanity.

    George W. Bush *is* (to borrow a phrase from our adversaries in Iran) "the great Satan" of our time.

    June 18, 2009 10:22 am at 10:22 am |
  19. dominican mama 4 Obama

    ...And in regards to the whole "socialist" issue, you could've applied the brakes on the right wingnuts by just saying NO. But you chose instead to continue to fan the hateful, and unprecedented vitriol that this President has been subjected to. You had a chance to ACT presidential and not be a jerk and once again you blew it. It's too bad history can't repeat itself.

    June 18, 2009 10:22 am at 10:22 am |
  20. wye

    It is impossible to express sufficient contempt for this cretin.

    June 18, 2009 10:22 am at 10:22 am |
  21. Jeff, Huntington Beach, CA

    I do not know how George W has the nerve to come out and talk about what constitutes successful policies. Corporate greed, lies and deceit, hypocritical religion, a sham of a war, dead bodies, up is down, black is white, have all been the legacy of "the decider." I am sure all the "favor" and preferential treatment he gave to his friends and cohorts during his administration are paying of well for him. He has plenty to smile about while the rest of us have to eat the wreckage he helped create.

    June 18, 2009 10:22 am at 10:22 am |

    Right now a lot of people don't have insurance and majority of their expense is picked by middle class working people. High income earners are paying very less compared to their income. Most of the labors pay 30-50% of their pay for health insurance. Eventually they will drop their health insuarnce and take a chance. Then cost of health insurance will go up more.

    June 18, 2009 10:22 am at 10:22 am |
  23. Suwanavi

    Bush is not qualified to advise this country on how to straighten out the many problems facing us. After all, his failed policies had a great deal to do with creating and/or compounding these problems!

    June 18, 2009 10:22 am at 10:22 am |
  24. dave

    Here is one sick puppy that the american people had no confidence in and he is trying to tell us today what we should or should not do.
    Someone should grab this moron and put him on the next moon shot this afternoon.
    And why the media would even print what he says or does along with the other half of his act is beyond the american public.
    We do not CARE what he says. Unless of course he says he wants on that rocket ride.

    June 18, 2009 10:22 am at 10:22 am |
  25. Susan

    Why should we listen to you, Sir? Obama is imperfect on many issues but we would like to listen for a guy who has some creditable performance record.

    June 18, 2009 10:22 am at 10:22 am |
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