George Bush Sr. on Welfare & Poverty

President of the U.S., 1989-1993; Former Republican Rep. (TX)


1968: Supported open housing (against racial discrimination)

In his 1964 Senate race, George derided his opponent's support for the War on Poverty. He later expressed regret at running so far to the right in 1964. When he did vote for open housing in 1968, he wrote, "I'll vote for the bill on final passage--have political misgivings--also constitutional--it won't solve much. But in my heart I know you're right on the symbolism of open housing."

George was expected to oppose the Fair Housing Act in 1968. But his Houston district was so safe that he could easily vote for open housing without facing political consequences.

As the years passed, George tended to recall his stand for open housing as if it signaled some lone act of stupendous bravery instead of a rare attempt to do the right thing--and suffer no political repercussions. He had been one of nine Texas congressman to vote for the bill, but he frequently forgot to mention the other eight.

Source: The Family, by Kitty Kelley, p.216-217 & 241-3 , Sep 16, 2004

1964: Opposed War on Poverty

In his 1964 Senate race, George derided his opponent's support for the War on Poverty with a reference to the "sun tan" project of the 1930s, the Civilian Conservation Corps, which George said had failed miserably, although the CCC had built many parks and kept youths from running the streets jobless during the height of Depression. He later expressed regret at running so far to the right in 1964.
Source: The Family, by Kitty Kelley, p.216-217 & 241-3 , Sep 14, 2004

1,000 points of light: volunteerism against social ills

For decades conservatives had been talking about the need to welcome volunteers, particularly religious volunteers, in the battle against the nation's social ills. It made no sense, they insisted, to disallow religious organizations to receive federal funding when they were often more effective in dealing with some problems than the state was. Moreover, interpreting the 1st Amendment as a ban on religious influence in social services was silly, they protested. Surely things had gone too far and to the detriment of the poor, the illiterate, and the drug addicted. It was time for a change, they insisted.

It was this very unshackling of volunteerism that President George H. W. Bush had meant by his "thousand points of light," a theme echoed by Newt Gingrich. A society committed to individual responsibility and reliance on God rather than slavish reliance on government gave conservatives a blueprint for genuine reform.

Source: The Faith of George W. Bush, by Stephen Mansfield, p. 99 , Apr 12, 2004

Create enterprise zones, but not via tax increases

Q: Who is going to fix the cities, and how?

BUSH: Our enterprise zones that we hear a lot of lip service about in Congress would bring jobs into the inner city. I went out to South Central in Los Angeles; all of them were saying, "pass enterprise zones." Very difficult to get it through the Congress. But there's going to be a new Congress. And then you can sit down and say, "Help me do what we should for the cities. Help me pass these programs."

Q: Aren't you threatening to veto the urban aid bill, that included enterprise zones?

BUSH: Sure, but the problem is you get so many things included in a great big bill that you have to look at the overall good. If you had a line-item veto, you could knock out the pork. You could knock out the tax increases, and you could create enterprise zones.

CLINTON: That bill pays for these urban enterprise zones by asking the wealthiest Americans to pay a little more, and that's why he wants to veto it. This is not mud slinging. This is fact slinging.

Source: The Second Clinton-Bush-Perot Presidential Debate , Oct 15, 1992

Places of worship lead members to light of service

"If every community in this land committed itself to sacrifice and action in this work, then each could become a 'community of light.'

"In a community of light, people would discover the fulfillment that comes with helping others. In a community of light, each school, business, place of worship, and group would lead its members towards the light of service as equal partners in solving social problems. In a community of light, people would use their ingenuity, experience, and passion to find solutions that work for their neighborhoods, their communities. They would adapt other people's successful efforts to meet their needs, or if necessary, they would craft their own."
(Radio address to the nation on the Daily Points of Light Program.)

Source: Heartbeat, by Jim McGrath, p.176 , Sep 28, 1991

Thousand Points of Light: volunteers better than government

"When a President talks about volunteerism, there are a few cynics around who suggest he's trying to escape the responsibility of the federal government, he's trying to say let somebody else do it. I'm saying, and I believe it with a fervor, that this narcotics problem in this country is not going to be solved without the Thousand Points of Light. Not just a thousand organizations, but literally a million efforts to get out there and try to work the problem. It isn't going to be done by the government."
(Remarks and a question-and-answer session with students at the school library, James Madison High School, Vienna, Virginia.)
Source: Heartbeat, by Jim McGrath, p. 52 , Mar 28, 1989

1000 points of light: replace spending with volunteers

The old solution, the old way, was to think that public money alone could end [our] problems. But we have learned that is not so. And in any case, our funds are low. We have a deficit to bring down. We will turn to the only resource we have that in time of need always grows-the goodness and the courage of the American people.

I am speaking of a new engagement in the lives of others, a new activism, hands-on and involved, that gets the job done.

I have spoken of a thousand points of light, of all the community organizations that are spread like stars throughout the Nation, doing good. I will go to the people and the programs that are the brighter points of light, and I will ask every member of my government to become involved. The old ideas are new again because they are not old, they are timeless: duty, sacrifice, commitment, and a patriotism that finds its expression in taking part and pitching in.

Source: Inaugural Address , Jan 20, 1989

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Other past presidents on Welfare & Poverty: George Bush Sr. on other issues:
Former Presidents:
Barack Obama(D,2009-2017)
George W. Bush(R,2001-2009)
Bill Clinton(D,1993-2001)
George Bush Sr.(R,1989-1993)
Ronald Reagan(R,1981-1989)
Jimmy Carter(D,1977-1981)
Gerald Ford(R,1974-1977)
Richard Nixon(R,1969-1974)
Lyndon Johnson(D,1963-1969)
John F. Kennedy(D,1961-1963)
Dwight Eisenhower(R,1953-1961)
Harry S Truman(D,1945-1953)

Past Vice Presidents:
V.P.Joseph Biden
V.P.Dick Cheney
V.P.Al Gore
V.P.Dan Quayle
Sen.Bob Dole

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Page last updated: Feb 22, 2022