George W. Bush on Government Reform
President of the United States, Former Republican Governor (TX)
FactCheck: Kerry authored 7 bills, not 5 that Bush claims
FACT CHECK: When Bush said Kerry "passed five" bills, he was counting five bills Kerry authored that passed the Senate, the House, were signed by the president, and became law. That's technically accurate but omits six other pieces of Kerry legislation
that have become law. The Bush campaign's backup lists five bills, which we verified:
Source: Analysis of Third Bush-Kerry debate (FactCheck.org)
Oct 15, 2004
- S.791: $53 million for grants to woman-owned small businesses. (1999)
- S.1206: Names a federal building in Waltham, Massachusetts after a Medal of Honor
- S.1636: To reduce the incidental taking of marine mammals during the course of commercial fishing (1994)
- S.1563: Funding the National Sea Grant College Program (1991)
- S.423: Granting a visa to a refugee. (1987)
campaign left out two bills authored by Kerry:
- H.R.1900 (S.300): Awarded a national day of recognition to Jackie Robinson (2003)
- H.R.1860 (S.856): Increased research grants for small businesses from $500,000 to $750,000 (2001)
Loves government, but keep it restricted
The Ronald Reagan revolution railed against government and proposed large tax cuts and controls on spending (outside of defense). Then came the Gingrich revolution-tax cuts as well as a radical reduction in the size and scope of the federal government.
Bush seems to have studied his predecessors. It is often pointed out that he is the anti-Gingrich-soft, cuddly and, well, compassionate.
But Bush is also the anti-Reagan. Ronald Reagan railed against government in theory but loved it in fact.
His budgets proposed virtually no reductions in spending. Bush, in contrast, can’t stop talking about his love of government. He speaks fondly of its role in education, housing, health care and Social Security. But while praising government in theory,
he wants to restrain it in fact. His budget requires that government spending-outside of Social Security and Medicare-rise by no more than 4%. (It rose by almost 9% last year.) Most cabinet agencies would see their budgets actually fall.
Source: Fareed Zakaria, NEWSWEEK
Mar 5, 2001
Big government cannot be compassionate
Bush warned against too much reliance on the government to provide direct services to the needy, saying, “My concern about the role of the federal government is that an intrusive
government, a government that says, ‘Don’t worry, we will solve your problems’ is a government that tends to crowd compassion out of the marketplace”
Source: Alison Mitchell, NY Times
Nov 1, 2000
Regulatory style: like Reagan, get government out of the way
The next president won’t just command the armed forces; he also will lead an army of bureaucrats. As Top Regulator, Bush or Gore would take fundamentally different approaches: It is an area that strongly reflects their basic dispute about the role of
Bush, a frequent critic of heavy-handedness in government, would take a less-is-better stance through his appointees, stressing flexibility and voluntary actions by industry and the states. Gore, while touting the importance of a “smaller,
smarter government,“ would push for more muscular regulation.
Critics worry that each man, in his own way, would go too far. Bush’s ”notion that government should get out of the way is the Ronald Reagan mantra,“ says one analyst, referring to
Reagan’s aggressively antiregulatory stance. For his part, Gore ”shows an instinct to intervene in the marketplace,“ says another economist, who insists such intervention only makes problems worse.
Source: Laurie Mcginley, The Wall Street Journal
Oct 31, 2000
We believe in people; they believe in government
The people of Wisconsin, they respect limited government. I thought last night it was one of the most telling moments in the debate when my opponent looked America in the eye and said he’s absolutely against big government.
Now there’s a man who’s prone to exaggeration. He wants to grow the size of the federal government. He believes in Washington. We believe in people. We’re of the people and by the people and for the people. That’s the motto of our campaign.
He’s of the government. He’s for government. He loves Washington, D.C. Now there’s a role for our government, but it’s not to tell the average folks how to live their lives.
If you’re sick and tired of Washington, D.C., the attitude, the finger-pointing, the name calling, if you want a fresh start after this season of cynicism, join this campaign.
Source: Remarks in Eau Claire, Wisconsin
Oct 18, 2000
Make govt citizen-centered, results-oriented & market-based
I have set forth policies that capture my vision of government reform. They are guided by three principles: government should be citizen-centered, results-oriented, and, wherever possible, market-based.
Source: Speech: “Getting Results”, in “Renewing America’s Purpose”
Jun 9, 2000
- The idea here is to clear away the layers
between the citizen and the decision-maker. I will expand the use of the Internet to empower citizens.
- Second, government should be guided not by process but guided by performance. Under my proposal, over the next five years, a majority of the
service contracts offered throughout the federal government will be performance-based. With a system of rewards and accountability, we can promote a culture of achievement throughout the federal government.
- Finally, government should be
market-based - we should not be afraid of competition, innovation, and choice. What matters in the end is not just making promises, but making good on promises.
Restore cooperation with Congress, to accomplish more
There is too much argument in Washington and not enough shared accomplishment. I am proposing today specific reforms relating to the budget process, pork-barrel spending, and nominations. I propose that the federal budget be passed by both houses of
Congress and signed by the president into law. I support putting the entire budget and appropriations process on a biennial basis. I support the establishment of a bipartisan commission to eliminate pork throughout the federal government.
Further, to bring fiscal discipline to the budget, I will ask Congress to pass line-item veto legislation. The president must be prompt in submitting his nominations, and the Senate
prompt in acting upon them. As president, I will set a new tone in Washington. I will do everything I can to restore civility to our national politics.
Source: Speech: “A New Approach”, in “Renewing America’s Purpose”
Jun 8, 2000
Pay for tax cuts with cash, not corporate loopholes
McCAIN [to Bush]: Last November there was an incredible bill passed full of earmarked pork barrel spending. They spent the then $14 billion surplus that was supposed to be there for this year. And you said you supported that bill. I voted against it;
said as president I would veto it and saw it as one of the most egregious practices. Tell me, what corporate loopholes would you close and what spending cuts would you make?
BUSH: If I’m the president and you’re a Senator, you can come in my
office and you can outline all the different corporate loopholes you think are wrong. And we can pick and choose. But what I’m doing, John, is I’m selling my tax cut plan without claiming I’m going to close some kind of corporate loophole. Your plan uses
so-called corporate loopholes to pay for it. I used cash to pay for it. And if the money stays in Washington -- my problem with your plan is that it’s going to be spent on bigger government.
Source: (X-ref from McCain) GOP Debate in Manchester NH
Jan 26, 2000
Meet basic priorities, & return leftovers to taxpayers
Bush: It’s important for government to do a few things and do them well, and when there’s money left over like there is today, instead of creating more government, we must cut the taxes. I intend to pass it back to the taxpayers. My plan meets our
Narrator: Reduces income tax rates; eliminates death tax; doubles child credit; reduces marriage penalty.
Bush: It cuts the taxes. [But] mark my words, under President Bush there will be a sound Social Security system.
Source: Television advertisement in NH
Jan 13, 2000
No legislating from the bench-judges should just interpret
Q: Would you have appointed David Souter to the Supreme Court?
BAUER: President Bush made a colossal mistake by putting a justice on the court that is a reliable vote for Clinton. We can never afford to make another mistake like that.
BUSH: I’m the only one on the stage who’s appointed judges. And my judges strictly interpret the Constitution. And that’s what I hope all of us would do. The bench [is not a] place from which to legislate. My dad can defend himself.
Source: Republican Debate in Durham, NH
Jan 6, 2000
Term limits for state representatives and governors
Gov. Bush stated that he would support amending the Texas Constitution to limit the number of terms of State Senators and Representatives as well as the Governor.
Source: Vote Smart NPAT 1998
Jul 2, 1998
Reform the court system to serve people, not lawyers
From people across America, I am hearing that out legal system needs reform. That our courts aren’t serving the people, they are serving the lawyers. That frivolous lawsuits are hurting people. Some think this special interest group is too
powerful to take on. That money determines everything. This is not an argument; it is an excuse. This cause is not hopeless. But it requires leadership to get results.
Source: Civil Justice Reform, in “Renewing America’s Purpose”
Feb 9, 2000
Favors Tort Reform to make it harder to sue corporations
The big law firms in Texas divide into corporate defense firms, which represent the state’s wealthier interests, and plaintiff firms, which make their money by suing big corporate interests. When Bush ran for governor in 1994, one of his four campaign
platform issues was tort reform, which is a legalistic way of saying that he thought the laws in Texas were too favorable to the plaintiffs. In his first term as governor, Bush successfully pushed tort reform through the Texas legislature.
Source: Boston Sunday Globe, p. A30
Oct 3, 1999
No lawsuits on good-faith acts
Bush’s 1999 legislative record included:
Source: GeorgeWBush.com/News/ “1999 Texas Legislative Record”
Jun 25, 1999
- Enacted Y2K Lawsuit Protections: First state to enact limited legal liability for companies that make good faith efforts to address Y2K problems.
- Passed a Good Samaritan Law: Protects from legal
liability voluntary health providers who provide medical care through non-profit organizations.
George W. Bush on Campaign Finance Reform
Private soft money OK, with full & prompt disclosure
Bush’s Reform Principles
Source: Letter to Senator Trent Lott
Mar 15, 2001
- Protect Rights of Individuals to Participate in Democracy: by: 1) updating the limits on individual giving to candidates and national parties; and 2) protecting the rights of citizen groups to engage in issue advocacy.
Maintain Strong Political Parties
- Ban Corporate and Union Soft Money
- Eliminate Involuntary Contributions: by 1) legislation to prohibit corporations from using treasury funds for political activity without the permission of shareholders; and 2)
legislation to require unions to obtain authorization from each dues-paying worker before spending those dues on activities unrelated to collective bargaining.
- Require Full and Prompt Disclosure
- Promote Fair, Balanced, Constitutional Approach:
Reform should not favor any one party over another or incumbents over challengers.
- Include a non-severability provision, so if any provision of the bill is found unconstitutional, the entire bill is sent back to Congress for further adjustments.
Ban soft money, but no public financing of elections
GORE [to Bush]: If I’m president, the first bill I will send to Congress is the McCain-Feingold campaign finance reform bill. And the reasons it’s that important is that all of the issues like prescription drugs for seniors that is opposed by the drug
companies, will be easier to pass if we limit the influence of special interests.
BUSH: I am not going to lay down my arms in the middle of a campaign for somebody who has got no credibility on the issue. I would support an effort to ban corporate
soft money & labor union soft money. I believe there needs to be instant disclosure on the Internet as to who’s given to whom.
GORE: You have attacked my character and credibility and I am not going to respond in kind. One serious problem is that our
system of government is being undermined by too much influence coming from special interest money.
BUSH: I want people to hear what he just said. He is for full public financing of congressional elections. I’m absolutely, adamantly opposed to that.
Source: Presidential debate, Boston MA
Oct 3, 2000
Ban some soft money; fewer restrictions on individuals
Bush has no interest in changing campaign finance rules. He has raised a record amount of money, more than $100M (though only a small part of that is “soft” money, $83M of it coming from individual donations). He also accepted $500,000 in the
1999 Texas legislative session from polluters he had exempted from mandatory cleanup rules. But he, like Gore, has responded to McCain’s challenge by devising a reform plan. It would:Ban soft money from unions and corporations,
but not from individualsRaise the limit on individual donations from $1,000 to $3,400 in each electionIntroduce “paycheck protection”, by which union members would have to give approval for their dues to be spent on political activities
Introduce weekly Internet disclosure of all contributionsReformers say the soft-money ban is undermined by the exemption for individuals. They detect (not surprisingly) an anti-union bias. And they know his heart is not in it.
Source: The Economist, “Issues 2000” special
Sep 30, 2000
No government takeover of campaign finance
Bush called Gore’s endowment proposal a “government takeover that replaces individual spending decisions with decisions made by an unelected government committee.” He said the plan echoed Clinton’s 1993 failed health care legislation. In a statement,
Bush described his campaign finance overhaul proposal as “superior because it abolishes corporate and union soft money without creating taxpayer-financed elections.” Gore’s plan is nothing more than “welfare for politicians,” Bush’s spokesman said.
Source: CNN.com AllPolitics
Mar 27, 2000
Full disclosure and no giving limits
Q: Do you disagree with the recent Supreme Court decision that upheld limits on campaign contributions?
A: In my state that’s the way it is. People can give any amount they want to give so long as there’s disclosure. That Supreme Court case was [too]
liberal an interpretation of the Constitution. I believe in freedom of speech. I understand there’s going to be limits and I’ll live with them. But I believe the best policy is to say individuals can give and then have instant disclosure on the Internet.
Source: GOP debate in Los Angeles
Mar 2, 2000
No corporate or union soft money.
Q: Where do you stand on campaign finance reform? A: We ought to ban corporate soft money, and we ought to ban labor union soft money. We ought to make sure that labor bosses cannot spend union members’ money without their permission.
Thirdly, we should not allow federal candidates to take money from one campaign and roll it over into another campaign. And members of the United States Congress should not be allowed to raise money from federal lobbyists during a session.
Source: GOP Debate on the Larry King Show
Feb 15, 2000
Supports tweaking campaign finance rules
Bush proposes lifting the $1,000 limit on individual contributions and requiring full disclosure of contributors.
Source: Time Magazine, p. 37, col. 2
Jul 5, 1999