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George W. Bush on Budget & Economy

President of the United States, Former Republican Governor (TX)


OpEd: Intended big government binge to be temporary

I realize there are few if any hands among modern politicians, particularly in Washington, on these issues. Indeed, this big-government binge began under the administration of George W. Bush. But, for those who believe there is no distinction between the Republican and Democrat Parties, consider the current state of things. Even though I disagreed with President Bush on certain policies, he took interventionist steps reluctantly and with a vision that they should be temporary. He famously said in a moment that caused many of us to cringe, "I've abandoned free-market principles to save the free-market system." But what he intended to do on a temporary basis, the current regime is pursuing as permanent policy.

For a statist like President Obama, a door cracked for the federal government to solve a national crisis is an open door for pursuing his agenda, behind which is creeping socialism. He sees this as a crisis that must not go to waste.

Source: Fed Up!, by Gov. Rick Perry, p. 72-73 , Nov 15, 2010

OpEd: Pursued freedom agenda more than fiscal agenda

I have enormous respect and admiration for my fellow Texan, President George W. Bush. He is a friend and a great American patriot.

But he did not fight for fiscal conservatism with the same fervor with which he pursues the freedom agenda in his foreign policy. He was dubbed by the Republican-friendly columnist Fred Barnes in the "Weekly Standard", "a big government conservative." I am not sure that's fair to the President or to the term conservative. There is no such thing as a "big government conservative." It is an oxymoron. I do think George is basically a conservative man who believes in God, in the greatness of America, in the protection of life, and in protecting our nation from our enemies. That's a pretty good record if you ask me. But he also seemed unwilling to fight spendthrift congressional Republicans for the sake of his larger goals.

Source: Fed Up!, by Gov. Rick Perry, p.143 , Nov 15, 2010

Cut growth of spending each year except DoD, DHS, DVA, & SSA

I took my responsibility to be a good fiscal steward seriously. As a wartime president, I had two priorities: protecting the homeland and supporting our troops, both in combat and as veterans. Beyond those areas, we submitted budgets that slowed the growth of discretionary spending every year of my presidency. For the last five years, my budgets held this spending growth below the rate of inflation--in real terms, a cut.

I worked closely with Congress to meet my spending targets--or, as I called it, the overall size of the pie. I didn't always agree with how Congress divvied up the pieces.

It is fair to debate those policy choices, but here are the facts : The combination of tight budgets and the rising tax revenues resulting from economic growth helped drive down the deficit from 3.5% of the GDP in 2004 to 2.6% in 2005, to 1.9% in 2006, to 1.2% in 2007.

Source: Decision Points, by Pres. George W. Bush, p.446-447 , Nov 9, 2010

OpEd: weak budget negotiator against Democrats

The Republican Revolution of 1994 initially proved to be a good counterbalance to Clinton's attempt to expand government. Republicans generally worked together in the House when Clinton was President, but Republicans in the Senate were willing to go along with high levels of spending. Unfortunately the good economy and balanced budget created an excuse to increase spending dramatically.

The second President Bush had some good ideas, but he turned out to be a weak negotiator with the Democrats. Wasteful spending and earmarks expanded dramatically under Bush II and the Republican majority. The Bush tax cuts pulled the economy out of recession, but government spending and debt increased to historic levels. The number of Americans who were dependent on some government service reached the highest level in history. I began to question if President Bush and the Republican leadership shared my sense of urgency to stop America's slide toward socialism.

Source: Saving Freedom, by Jim DeMint, p. 23-24 , Jul 4, 2009

Priorities: balance budget; stop earmarks; fix entitlements

    I want to discuss 3 economic reforms that deserve to be priorities for this Congress.
  1. We must balance the federal budget. We can do so without raising taxes. What we need to do is impose spending discipline. We set a goal of cutting the deficit in half by 2009--and met that goal three years ahead of schedule. Now let us take the next step. In the coming weeks, I will submit a budget that eliminates the federal deficit within the next five years.
  2. The time has come to end the practice of earmarks. So let us expose every earmark to the light of day and to a vote in Congress; and cut the number and cost of earmarks at least in half.
  3. To keep this economy strong we must take on the challenge of entitlements. Social Security and Medicare and Medicaid are commitments of conscience--yet somehow we have not found it in ourselves to act. So let us work together and do it now. With enough good sense and good will, you and I can fix Medicare and Medicaid--and save Social Security.
    Source: 2007 State of the Union address to Congress , Jan 23, 2007

    FactCheck: Deficit is increasing substantially this year

    The President proposed cutting $14 billion worth of programs and said this would keep the US “on track to cut the deficit in half by 2009.” Not mentioned is that the deficit is going up this year. It was $317 billion in the fiscal year that ended last Oct. 30, and actually cut this category, and that is correct. The decline is projected to be 0.5%.

    Overall federal spending is up 42% under Bush, and CBO projects further upward pressure on spending, including rising interest rates pushing up the cost of servicing the swelling national debt, and rising medical costs and Bush’s new prescription drug benefit pushing up the cost of Medicare. (Neither item is counted in the “discretionary” category).

    Source: FactCheck analysis of 2006 State of the Union speech , Feb 1, 2006

    FactCheck: Overall spending increased 42% under Bush

    The President, speaking of being “good stewards of tax dollars,” focused on one small part of the budget and did not mention rapid growth in overallfederal spending that has taken place under his tenure. He said “we’ve reduced the growth of non-security discretionary spending,” which is true. However, that category accounts for only about 16% of the whole federal budget, and it too has grown, though not as rapidly as other categories. Bush said bills were passed last year that would Keeping America competitive requires us to be good stewards of tax dollars. Every year of my presidency, we’ve reduced the growth of non-security discretionary spending. This year my budget will cut it again, and reduce or eliminate more than 140 programs that are performing poorly or not fulfilling essential priorities. By passing these reforms, we will save the American taxpayer another $14 billion next year, and stay on track to cut the deficit in half by 2009.
    Source: 2006 State of the Union speech , Feb 1, 2006

    Spending cuts will reduce deficit to half by 2009

    Keeping America competitive requires us to be good stewards of tax dollars. Every year of my presidency, we’ve reduced the growth of non-security discretionary spending. This year my budget will cut it again, and reduce or eliminate more than 140 programs that are performing poorly or not fulfilling essential priorities. By passing these reforms, we will save the American taxpayer another $14 billion next year, and stay on track to cut the deficit in half by 2009.
    Source: 2006 State of the Union speech , Jan 31, 2006

    Protectionists want to escape competition

    In a dynamic world economy, we are seeing new competitors like China and India. And this creates uncertainty, which makes it easier to feed people’s fears. So we’re seeing some old temptations return. Protectionists want to escape competition, pretending that we can keep our high standard of living while walling off our economy. Others say that the government needs to take a larger role in directing the economy, centralizing more power in Washington and increasing taxes.
    Source: 2006 State of the Union Address , Jan 31, 2006

    Cut non-security discretionary spending every year

    Every year of my presidency, we’ve reduced the growth of non-security discretionary spending, and last year you passed bills that cut this spending. This year, my budget will cut it again and reduce or eliminate more than 140 programs that are performing poorly or not fulfilling essential priorities. By passing these reforms, we will save the American taxpayer another $14 billion next year and stay on track to cut the deficit in half by 2009.
    Source: 2006 State of the Union Address , Jan 31, 2006

    Confront the larger challenge of entitlements spending

    We must also confront the larger challenge of mandatory spending, or entitlements. This year, the first of about 78 million baby boomers turn 60, including two of my dad’s favorite people, me, and Bill Clinton. This milestone is more than a personal crisis. It is a national challenge. The retirement of the baby boom generation will put unprecedented strains on the federal government. By 2030, spending for Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid alone will be almost 60% of the entire federal budget.
    Source: 2006 State of the Union Address , Jan 31, 2006

    Limit discretionary spending; cut 150 non-essential programs

    I will send [Congress] a budget that holds the growth of discretionary spending below inflation, makes tax relief permanent, and stays on track to cut the deficit in half by 2009. My budget substantially reduces or eliminates more than 150 government programs that are not getting results or duplicate current efforts or do not fulfill essential priorities.
    Source: 2005 State of the Union Speech , Feb 2, 2005

    Pay-as-you-go means you pay, he goes and spends

    Q: You pledged that you would not raise taxes on those making less than $200,000 a year. How can you keep that pledge without running this country deeper into debt?

    KERRY: I’ll tell you exactly how I can do it: by reinstating what Pres. Bush took away, which is called “pay as you go.” During the 1990s, we had pay-as-you-go rules. If you were going to pass something in the Congress, you had to show where you are going to pay for it and how. Pres. Bush is the only president in history to [rescind pay-as-you-go]. I’m going to reverse that. We’re going to restore the fiscal discipline we had in the 1990s.

    BUSH: I’ll tell you what PAYGO means, when you’re a senator from Massachusetts, PAYGO means: You pay, and he goes ahead and spends. He’s proposed $2.2 trillion of new spending, and yet the so-called tax on the rich raises $800 billion by his account. There is a tax gap. And guess who usually ends up filling the tax gap? The middle class.

    Source: [Xref Kerry] Third Bush-Kerry Debate, in Tempe Arizona , Oct 13, 2004

    Bush ties growing economy to his tax cuts

    Bush noted that a record 68 percent of Americans own their own homes. He also cited relatively low inflation and a rise in manufacturing. “Our economy is growing,” said Bush. “It’s strong and getting stronger.” Bush tied what he described as a growing economy to his series of tax cuts -- including a boost in the child tax credit and breaks for small businesses -- and he called on Congress to make them permanent.
    Source: CNN.com , Mar 26, 2004

    Investment and aid to states will help economy rebound

    Encouraging job-creating investment in America’s businesses by providing dividend and capital gains tax relief and giving small businesses incentives to grow and providing $20 billion in aid to States for necessary services
    Source: 2004 Presidential website, georgewbush.com , Aug 29, 2003

    Provides assistance to new small businesses

    Every small business owner who purchases equipment to grow and expand will get assistance through an increase in the expensing limits from $25,000 to $100,000.
    Source: 2004 Presidential website, georgewbush.com , Aug 29, 2003

    Reframed Clinton from economic prosperity to moral failing

    Bush’s first challenge [at the 2000 Convention] was to explain why voters should vote against incumbents after eight years of prosperity. The Democrats had lost in 1984 & 1988 by denying that the prosperity of the 80s was real. Bush avoided that mistake. He acknowledged the prosperity-and then changed the subject to the moral failings of the people who had presided over it. “For 8 years, the Clinton/Gore administration has coasted through prosperity. And the path of least resistance is always downhill. But America’s way is the rising road.... My generation tested limits-and our country, in some ways, is better for it. At times, we lost our way. But we are coming home.“ Conservatives had attacked the baby boomers for producing Bill Clinton; Bush sorrowfully reproached Clinton for betraying the boomers. ”Our current president embodied the potential of a generation. So many talents. So much charm. Such great skill. But, in the end, to what end? So much promise, to no great purpose.“
    Source: The Right Man, by David Frum, chapter 1 , Jun 1, 2003

    Restore consumer confidence with tax cuts & new oil supplies

    First things first. We’ve got to restore consumer confidence. We can help in Washington by returning tax money to the people who pay the bills this year. We can restore investor confidence by building a better business environment for years to come, starting with having a realistic, sound energy policy -- a policy that says, of course, we can conserve better, but we need to aggressively seek new supplies. We need an aggressive, forward-thinking energy policy that balances the needs of our environment with the needs of the people of the country.

    We can also help by having a world of free trade. One of the concerns is if the economy were to slow down like ours, the protectionist sentiments around America might start bubbling to the surface. Ours is an administration dedicated to free trade. Free trade is good for America. And, finally, we need to have lower taxes, instead of bigger government.

    Source: White House speech to high-tech leaders , Mar 28, 2001

    Despite prosperity, “It’s time for a change” in Washington

    Bush said despite that current prosperity, “It’s time for a change” in Washington. “Some say [the economy] is doing pretty well - well it may be,” he said. But “People need more money in their pocket, as far as I’m concerned.” Presenting a Tampa family, he said his plan for a tax cut would slice nearly 50 percent off their tax bill, and criticized Gore for planning only smaller cuts.
    Source: William March, The Tampa (FL) Tribune , Oct 26, 2000

    Prosperity results from entrepreneurship & ingenuity

    BUSH (to Gore): I think the economy has meant more for the Gore and Clinton folks than the Gore and Clinton folks has meant for the economy. I think most of the economic growth that has taken place is a result of ingenuity and hard work and entrepreneurship. And that’s the role of government, is to encourage that.

    GORE: I think that the American people deserve credit for the great economy that we have. And it’s their ingenuity. I agree with that. But they were working pretty hard eight years ago, and they had ingenuity eight years ago. The difference is, we’ve got a new policy. Look, we have gone from the biggest deficits to the biggest surpluses; we’ve gone from a triple dip recession during the previous 12 years to a tripling of the stock market. Instead of high unemployment, we’ve got the lowest African-American and lowest Latino unemployment rates ever in history, and 22 million new jobs.

    Source: (X-ref Gore) Presidential debate, Boston MA , Oct 3, 2000

    Private sector responsible for economic boom

    Bush flatly rejected the contention from Clinton and Gore that their economic policies, particularly the 1993 deficit-reduction package that passed Congress solely on Democratic votes, had contributed to the nation’s boom times. “I think the economy has grown really in spite of government. This is an incredible period of time when productivity has been enhanced, not because of any great initiative of government, but because of the ability for entrepreneurs to stake a new claim.”
    Source: Ronald Brownstein, LA Times , Aug 13, 2000

    Make budget biennial; reinstate line-item veto; target pork

    “If the discord in Washington never seems to end, it’s because the budget process never seems to end,” Bush said. He decried an environment of “too much polling and not enough decision-making.” Bush proposed revamping the federal budget process to shift from an annual to a biennial exercise and to require the president and Congress to agree on spending targets early in the process, to prevent government shutdowns.

    Bush also said he would target wasteful spending by restoring a version of the line-item veto and installing a commission to recommend pork-barrel projects for elimination. [Bush proposes] devoting the off-year in the biennial budget process to examining which government programs should be eliminated.

    House and Senate members said Bush’s ideas would get a respectful hearing on Capitol Hill, although proposals requiring Congress to relinquish power over the nation’s purse strings likely would encounter resistance.

    Source: Dana Milbane, Washington Post, p. A1 , Jun 9, 2000

    $46B in new spending on health, education, & defense

    George W. Bush may be inventing a different species of politician: a tax-cut-and-spend Republican. So far this week, Bush has proposed new spending that would total about $46 billion over five years, most of it for health care. Yesterday, he recommended a $4.3 billion program, mostly to expand community health services in remote and urban areas. Earlier, he called for $13 billion in new education spending, a defense plan that requires at least $25 billion in new spending--perhaps more. And he’s not through. Aides say Bush will use the coming months to outline more of his domestic policy views and, likely, additional spending for health care and other problems. Democrats say Bush has overestimated the projected surpluses, significantly underestimated the size of his tax cut, and has not factored into his fiscal equation plans to privatize part of the Social Security system and has yet to outline a single significant cut in current spending.
    Source: Dan Balz and Terry M. Neal, Washington Post , Apr 13, 2000

    New Prosperity Initiative: remove obstacles to advancement

    Source: Fact Sheet: “New Prosperity Initiative/Renewing America” , Apr 11, 2000

    Simplify tax code to stimulate economic growth

    Bush said he would present a plan for a flatter and simpler tax code. He said the principal goal of his tax plan is to stimulate economic growth and productivity. A second goal is to return government surpluses to taxpayers, once ‘basic needs’ of society have been met.
    Source: (Cross-ref to Tax Reform) Dan Balz, The Washington Post , Apr 25, 1999


    George W. Bush on Budget Deficit

    2007: Avoided restructuring to maintain market confidence

    [To try to avoid the financial collapse which occurred in summer 2008, Federal Reserve chair] Bernanke set up a "liquidity facility" in the fall of 2007. It had lent hundreds of billions in what was all but free money to banks, investment houses, and other companies to prop them up while the market could somehow correct itself. What had been done in that year was emblematic of the modern dilemmas of projecting confidence, whether or not it is justified.

    Insofar as the program was successful, as a stopgap, it was because it was secret--a fundamental violation of long-standing principles of corporate accounting, where the source of each dollar is supposed to be clear. As to any structural solutions, both the Fed and the Treasury ducked, as did the Bush administration, because acknowledging the need for dramatic action and then forcing architectural changes in the system would have undermined "confidence in the markets."

    Source: Confidence Men, by Ron Suskind, p.108 , Sep 20, 2011

    OpEd: 2008 stimulus checks went to savings, not spending

    So where is the money? It's in hiding, waiting for better economic times before it comes out to be spent. People are using the money to pay down their credit card debt, to pay off their car loans, to reduce their student loans, or to catch up on their As a result of the government's clever scheme in 2007, the amount of money in circulation more than doubled, but consumer demand hasn't doubled. Car purchases haven't doubled. Housing sales haven't doubled. In fact, the sales figures are largely flat!

    They probably did the same with the funds Obama gave away at the start of his term. According to one study , "most Americans saved their 2008 stimulus checks and only about a third of consumers spent them." mortgage payments. They are saving the money, not spending it. That's the smart thing to do--but it doesn't help the economy.

    Americans took the stimulus checks Bush sent out in 2008 and put them in their bank accounts.

    Source: Take Back America, by Dick Morris, p. 49 , Apr 13, 2010

    Haven’t vetoed any spending bills because we work together

    Q: Please explain how the spending you have approved and not paid for is better for the American people than the spending proposed by Kerry.

    A: We have a deficit because this country went into a recession. You might remember the stock market started to climb dramatically six months before I came to office, and then the bubble of the 1990s popped. That cost us revenue. Secondly, we’re at war. And I’m going to spend what it takes to win the war, more than just $120 billion for Iraq and Afghanistan. We’ve got to pay our troops more. We’ve increased money for ammunition and weapons and pay. And homeland security. We went from 10 billion to $30 billion to protect the homeland. And plus we cut taxes for everybody. Everybody got tax relief, so as to get out of the recession. If you raise taxes during a recession, you had the depression. I proposed a plan, detailed budget that shows us cutting the deficit in half by five years. And you’re right, I haven’t vetoed any spending bills because we work together.

    Source: Second Bush-Kerry Debate, in St. Louis MO , Oct 8, 2004

    Will cut the deficit in half in the next 5 years

    We should limit the burden of government on this economy by acting as good stewards of taxpayers’ dollars. In two weeks, I will send you a budget that funds the war, protects the homeland and meets important domestic needs, while limiting the growth in discretionary spending to less than 4 percent. This will require that Congress focus on priorities, cut wasteful spending and be wise with the people’s money. By doing so, we can cut the deficit in half over the next five years.
    Source: 2004 State of the Union address to joint session of Congress , Jan 20, 2004

    Fact Check: Deficit didn’t exist at end of Clinton term

    FACTCHECK on the Federal Deficit: The President promised to curb deficit spending, but said nothing about where the deficits come from.

    BUSH: We can cut the deficit in half over the next five years.

    FACTCHECK: Not mentioned: The projected federal surplus at the end of Bill Clinton’s term have now turned to a projected federal deficit of $1.4 trillion over the next 10 years, due to Bush’s two large tax cuts, large increases in federal spending, and an economic downturn. Also not mentioned: A 12.3% rise in discretionary federal spending last fiscal year followed by a 9% rise this fiscal year, as estimated by the Congressional Budget Office.

    Source: FactCheck.org on the 2004 State of the Union address , Jan 20, 2004

    Proposes to shrink federal budget to 16% of GDP

    A good way to measure the actual size of government is to compare total federal spending to the Gross Domestic Product or GDP. Under Presidents Ronald Reagan and George Bush, the ratio was about 22% -- the federal budget was 22% of the nation’s GDP. Under President Clinton, the ratio fell to 18%. President George W. Bush’s proposed budget would drop the ratio further to 16%.
    Source: National Public Radio News , Mar 12, 2001

    Cut national debt by $2T in 10 years; leave $1.2T in debt

    President Bush’s budget plan will seek to put the nation on a course to pay off $2 trillion of the national debt over the next 10 years, leaving $1.2 trillion of debt at the end of that period. After several years of bipartisan consensus about the desirability of extinguishing as much debt as quickly as possible, with the goal of bringing it to zero in a decade or a little longer, Bush will say that bringing it below $1.2 trillion in that period, much less wiping it out entirely, will be all but impossible.

    Bush’s budget plan will conclude that the national debt held by the public. White House officials said their position is not the result of a political or a policy decision, but a reflection of the fact that a portion of the debt in the form of a variety of bonds is not easily redeemable, either because it would be too expensive to do so or because its holders would be unwilling to part with it.

    Source: Richard Stevenson, NY Times , Feb 27, 2001

    Too much government spending will end prosperity

    Gore offers an old and tired approach. He offers a new federal spending program to nearly every voting bloc. He expands entitlements, without reforms to sustain them. 285 new or expanded programs, and $2 trillion more in new spending. Spending without discipline, spending without priorities, and spending without an end. Al Gore’s massive spending would mean slower growth and higher taxes. And it could mean an end to this nation’s prosperity.
    Source: Speech in Minneapolis, Minnesota , Nov 1, 2000


    George W. Bush on Financial Bailout

    OpEd: 2008 bailouts gave rise to Tea Party

    Although the Tea Party Patriots' founding documents states that our 1st core principle is fiscal responsibility, there are those who claim the Tea Party movement ignored fiscal irresponsibility when it was practiced by Republicans, and was only roused to action when it was practiced by Democrats.

    Not true. Just ask Republicans.

    True, the modern-day Tea Party movement began in February 2009, when the White House, the Senate, and the House of Representatives were all controlled by Democrats. But the 1st stirrings of our movement started with the out-of-control spending of the Republican George W Bush administration--which gathered steam in his 2nd term and came to a head with President Bush's big government bailouts in September of 2008.

    Source: Tea Party Patriots, by M.Meckler & J.B.Martin, p. 38-39 , Feb 14, 2012

    2008 TARP bailouts: Bear-Stearns; Fannie Mae; AIG