More headlines: George W. Bush on Government Reform

(Following are older quotations. Click here for main quotations.)

Gore would be “obstacle in chief” to reform

Al Gore would be the “obstacle-in-chief” fighting against school, tax and Social Security reforms, Bush said. “Scare tactics, distortions and exaggerations -- that’s all my opponent has left. During this campaign, Americans have seen my priorities. Better schools. Fairer taxes. Stronger military. Security for our seniors. These reforms are coming to Washington. In truth, we should have had them long ago. The Clinton-Gore administration has blocked reform at every turn.”
Source: AP story in NY Times on 2000 election Oct 23, 2000

Claim that Gore grows government not backed by history

Bush said Gore was a big spender whose proposals would bust the budget. And he said electing Gore would mean the return of big government.

Bush’s budget has less of a buffer than Gore’s does. Bush’s budget would use all but $265 billion of the surplus, and that is without paying for some of his campaign promises, like missile defense. Gore says he would set aside $660 billion of the surplus for a reserve fund.

Gore said he had helped slim down the federal bureaucracy through his work on the administration’s Reinventing Government initiative. Since 1992, the civilian government work force has fallen by 400,000 people, to 1.82 million, although nearly three-quarters of the reduction has been the Pentagon.

Some analysts measure the size of government by looking at total spending relative to the size of the economy. By that measure, outlays have declined steadily in recent years, to 18.7% of gross domestic product this year. Gore said his plan would push that figure down to 17% by 2008.

Source: NY Times analysis of St. Louis debate, on 2000 election Oct 19, 2000

Not enough money for all of Gore’s spending plans

BUSH [to Gore]: When you total up all the federal spending [Gore] wants to do, it’s the largest increase in federal spending in years. And there’s just not going to be enough money.

Q: Is he right?

GORE: Absolutely not. Under my plan, we will balance the budget every year. I’m not just talking. I have helped to balance the budget for the first time in 30 years, and pay down the debt. And under my plan, in four years, as a percentage of our gross domestic product, federal spending will be the smallest that it has been in 50 years.

Q: The vice president says you’re wrong.

BUSH: Well, he’s wrong. Just add up all the numbers; it’s three times bigger than what Pres. Clinton proposed.

GORE: That’s in an ad [which] the journalists who analyzed it said was misleading.

BUSH: Forget the journalists. You propose more than Walter Mondale & Michael Dukakis combined. This is a big spender, he is. And he ought to be proud of it. It’s part of his record. We just have a different philosophy.

Source: St. Louis debate Oct 17, 2000

Clinton/Gore haven’t gotten social programs done in 8 years

GORE [to Bush]: If you want somebody who believes that we were better off eight years ago than we are now and that we ought to go back to the kind of policies that we had back then, emphasizing tax cuts mainly for the wealthy, here is your man [pointing to Bush]. If you want somebody who will fight for you and who will fight to have middle class tax cuts, then I am your man. I want to be.

BUSH: We’ve had enough fighting [in Congress]. It’s time to unite. You talk about eight years? In eight years, [the Clinton/Gore Administration] hasn’t gotten anything done on Medicare, on Social Security, a patients’ bill of rights. It’s time to get something done.

I cast the tie-breaking vote to add 26 years to the life of Medicare. It was due to go bankrupt in 1999.

Source: (X-ref Gore) St. Louis debate Oct 17, 2000

Strict constructionists on Supreme Court; not activists

BUSH (to Gore): I’ll put competent judges on the bench, people who will strictly interpret the Constitution and will not use the bench to write social policy. I believe that the judges ought not to take the place of the legislative branch of government, that they’re appointed for life and that they ought to look at the Constitution as sacred. I don’t believe in liberal, activist judges. I believe in strict constructionists. And those are the kind of judges I will appoint.

GORE: Both of us use similar language to reach an exactly opposite outcome. In my view, the Constitution ought to be interpreted as a document that grows with our country and our history.

BUSH: I’ll tell you what kind of judges he’ll put on there. He’ll put liberal, activist judges who will use their bench to subvert the legislature. That’s what he’ll do.

GORE: That’s not right.

Source: Presidential debate, Boston MA Oct 3, 2000

Gore plan will lead to massive government and bureaucracy

Q: What are the choices facing people in November?

GORE: We’ve got the biggest surplus in history. Will we use that prosperity wisely in a way that benefits all of our people and doesn’t go just to the few? I think we have to invest in education, protecting the environment, health care, a prescription drug benefit that goes to all seniors, not just to the poor; under Medicare, not relying on HMOs and insurance companies. I think that we have to help parents and strengthen families. I think we have got to have welfare reform taken to the next stage. I think that we have got to balance the budget every single year.

BUSH: He’s going to grow the federal government in the largest increase since Johnson in 1965. We’re talking about a massive government, folks. We’re talking about adding to or increasing 200 new programs, 20,000 new bureaucrats. Imagine how many IRS agents it’s going to take to be able to figure out his targeted tax cut for the middle class that excludes 50 million Americans.

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

Streamline government with cuts and competition

Bush proposed a 2% cut in the federal work force over 8 years and spending cuts of $88 billion over 5 years, or 1% of spending. Bush would also open the functions handled by 450,000 employees, or a quarter of the federal work force, to competition with private contractors. “I will open government to the discipline of competition,” Bush said. He would increase the number of performance-based contracts to $55 billion per year and reduce 40,000 senior and middle-managerial jobs through attrition.
Source: Dana Milbank, Washington Post, A6 on 2000 election Jun 10, 2000

Make govt citizen-centered, results-oriented & market-based

Americans see a government slow to respond, slow to reform, and ignoring all the changes going on around it. I have set forth policies that capture my vision of government reform, guided by three principles: government should be citizen-centered, results oriented, and, wherever possible, market-based. In size and scale, modern government will never resemble what the framers envisioned. In spirit, however, it should always be citizen-centered, always listening and answering directly to the people.“
Source: coverage Jun 9, 2000

Judges should be strict constructionists

Would appoint strict constructionists who would interpret the law, not legislate from the bench
Source: ‘Issues: Policy Points Overview’ Apr 2, 2000

When do supporters opinions count as candidates’ opinions?

BUSH [to McCain]: John and I shook hands and we said we weren’t going to run [negative] ads. Unfortunately he ran an ad that equated me to Clinton. He questioned my trustworthiness.

McCAIN: There was an ad run against me, we ran a counter-ad. But what really went over the line [is that] Bush had a event and he paid for it and stood next to a spokesman for a fringe veterans group. That fringe veteran said that McCain had abandoned the veterans. You should be ashamed.

BUSH: John, I believe that you served our country nobly. And I’ve said it over and over again, that man wasn’t speaking for me. If you hold me responsible [for that, then your supporter, former Senator] Warren Rudman, said about the Christian Coalition that they’re bigots. I know you don’t believe that, do you?

McCAIN: He’s entitled to his opinion.

BUSH Well, so is this man.

McCAIN: When you were asked if you would repudiate him, you said no.

KEYES: Is this kind of pointless squabbling what we really want [viewers] to see

Source: GOP Debate on the Larry King Show Feb 15, 2000

Wife Laura’s issues would be education & literacy

“I give my husband some counsel, but I actually think counsel or advice from a spouse ends up being nagging, or sounding like that,” Laura Bush said. “So I am very careful about actually telling George anything.” Laura Bush, a former second-grade teacher, has been a strong advocate in Texas for early childhood education and - like her mother-in-law - family literacy. Those interests, she says, would follow her to the White House.
Source: Boston Globe on 2000 race, p. A20 Dec 26, 1999

Judges should interpret Constitution, not legislate

Bush would not require his Supreme Court nominees to pass an anti-abortion ‘litmus test.’ Bush told reporters he would nominate Supreme Court judges based on three criteria: Judicial temperament and “do the judges share my overall philosophy and will the judges strictly interpret the Constitution as opposed to using the bench to legislate?”
Source: Associated Press on 2000 presidential race Jun 14, 1999

Restore individual potential by focusing govt

By trying to do too much, government has undermined one of America’s greatest strengths: individual potential. A government that overtaxes its workers limits the incentive to earn and to save. A government that hands out check after check undermines the incentive to work. Part of our legacy must be to restore government to its proper scope and role. A government whose tax policies create incentives to work, invest and save. A government that respects and nurtures individual liberty and responsibility.
Source: Powell Lecture Series, Texas A&M Univ. Apr 6, 1998

Bush’s support of non-severability makes reform vulnerable

Opponents of campaign finance reform will try to amend the Senate bill, so that if it passes and any part is subsequently struck down in court, the entire bill will be invalidated. They claim to be acting in the interest of balance.

If only some provisions are struck down, the remainder could produce a skewed and unintended effect. The bill would restrict independent “issue ads”-campaign ads in scant disguise. The anti-issue-ad provision likely would be one of the first to be attacked in court, [possibly resulting in] issue ads surviving, while the party soft money, which now provides some protection against such ads, disappears. That’s part of what the balance argument is code for.

But the answer to that is not to put a lethal asterisk after the rest of the bill in advance; it’s to fix the problem if it arises. The people who want to add this “non-severability” amendment, including the president, are no friends of reform, seeking evenhandedness. Their goal is to make the bill more vulnerable

Source: Washington Post Editorial, Page A16 on 2004 election Mar 19, 2001

“Paycheck Protection”: no union-directed campaign donations

Source: ‘Issues: Policy Points Overview’ Apr 2, 2000

Soft-money ban must include unions & past investigations

GORE [to Bush]: I challenge you to reject the use of soft money to run issue ads. I will take the first step by requesting the DNC not to run any issue ads paid for by soft money unless and until the Republican Party uses money for advertising. Thus, it’s up to you and your party whether you want to start the ad war arms race; you have the power to join me in banning soft money. If you are willing to do the right thing, we can change politics forever.

BUSH: Restoring trust in our electoral process. is the heart of the matter. New campaign finance laws are needed. What is even more important is the duty of public officials to obey the existing laws, and I’m afraid your own record does not inspire confidence. In your note, you did not mention the matter of compulsory union dues being used to support political candidates -- a violation of worker rights. Your silence was not encouraging, because any campaign finance reform must be broad and fair.

Source: E-mail exchange between the candidates Mar 14, 2000

Agrees to no negative ads; stop tearing each other down

Q: [to Bush & Forbes]: Will you agree not to run any negative ads against each other?

FORBES. The answer is if being negative is telling the truth I will continue to tell the truth. People deserve it, we deserve an honest and open and vigorous debate. And if a man breaks a pledge [re 1997 tax cuts], the voters ought to know it.

BUSH: I’ll run positive ads. Listen, I cut taxes as the governor. That’s a fact. That is the bottom line. The people of my state know my record and they endorsed it with an election. And yet if you look at [Forbes’] ads it doesn’t say that. I don’t mind debates. I do mind Republicans tearing each other down.

FORBES. You’re not going to win the White House by making pledges that are then broken. We’ve been through that before, particularly on taxes. A pledge made should be a pledge kept. And in Texas it was your own party that saved you from breaking that pledge. You tried to break it, they blocked you.

Source: (cross-ref to Forbes) GOP Debate in Michigan Jan 10, 2000

Campaign finance reform would hurt Republicans

BUSH [to McCain]: Your call for campaign finance reform will hurt conservatives & the Republican Party.

McCAIN: The unions carry millions of dollars in checks and soft money down to the Democratic National Committee. Trial lawyers do the same thing. We’ll hurt the unions bad if we take away their soft money. But what you’re saying is that we should continue what happened in 1996. That’s disgraceful. Chinese & Indonesian money came in to the campaign. We’ll never know about the breaches of security.

Source: Republican Debate in Durham, NH Jan 6, 2000

Other candidates on Government Reform: George W. Bush on other issues:
Former Presidents/Veeps:
George W. Bush (R,2001-2009)
V.P.Dick Cheney
Bill Clinton (D,1993-2001)
V.P.Al Gore
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_TrumanHarry S Truman(D,1945-1953)

Religious Leaders:
New Testament
Old Testament
Pope Francis

Political Thinkers:
Noam Chomsky
Milton Friedman
Arianna Huffington
Rush Limbaugh
Tea Party
Ayn Rand
Secy.Robert Reich
Joe Scarborough
Gov.Jesse Ventura
Civil Rights
Foreign Policy
Free Trade
Govt. Reform
Gun Control
Health Care
Homeland Security
Social Security
Tax Reform
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Page last updated: Feb 22, 2022