George W. Bush on Government Reform

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


Executive orders trump World Court within US

Our argument [against Texas having to follow World Court rulings] was that the President Bush's order usurped the authority of the Supreme Court.

With an opinion written by Chief Justice Roberts, the Supreme Court agreed with Texas that the World Court had no authority whatsoever to bind the U.S. justice system. At the same time, it struck down the president's order, concluding it was unconstitutional for the president to unilaterally surrender the sovereignty of the United States of America.

Source: A Time for Truth, by Ted Cruz, p.165-6 , Jun 30, 2015

OpEd: Doubled national debt & doubled size of government

Imagine this--what if there had never been a President George W. Bush and Obama had governed from 2000 to 2008 exactly as Bush did--doubling the size of government, doubling the debt, expanding federal entitlements and education, starting the Iraq War-- the whole works. Would Republicans have given Obama and his party a free pass in carrying out the exact same agenda as Bush? It's hard to imagine this being the case, given the grief Bill Clinton got from Republicans, even though his big government agenda was less ambitious than Bush's. Yet, the last Republican president got very little criticism from his own party for most of his tenure. For conservatives, there was no excuse for this.

Obama has proved far worse than Bush, no doubt, but this doesn't make Bush preferable, unless preference is dictated solely by party affiliation. If judgment is based on spending and the budget, then Bill Clinton should be considered preferable to Bush, given that he spent less money than his successor.

Source: The Tea Party Goes to Washington, by Rand Paul, p. 47-48 , Feb 22, 2012

OpEd: Activist government for conservative ends

Columnist Fred Barnes explained in The Wall Street Journal in 2003:

"The case for Bush's conservatism is strong. Sure, some conservatives are upset because he has tolerated a surge in federal spending, downplayed swollen deficits, failed to use his veto, created a vast Department of Homeland Security, and fashioned an alliance of sorts with Teddy Kennedy on education and Medicare. But the real gripe is that Bush isn't their kind of conventional conservative. Rather, he's a big government conservative. This isn't a description he or other prominent conservatives willingly embrace. It makes them sound as if they aren't conservatives at all. But they are. They simply believe in using what would normally be seen as liberal means--activist government--for conservative ends. And they're willing to spend more and increase the size of government in the process."

Barnes made clear that Bush's big government conservatism was a definite break from the traditional variety.

Source: The Tea Party Goes to Washington, by Rand Paul, p. 55 , Feb 22, 2012

1990s: $750,000 punitive damage cap in Texas tort reform

The lieutenant governor serves as president of the state senate, seats committees, and decides on the flow of bills. He is elected separately from the governor, meaning it is possible for the two top officials to be from opposite parties--as Lt. Gov. Bob Bullock and I were.

One night early in the session, I got a phone call from Bullock. "Why are you blocking tort reform? " Bullock fired off a couple of f-bombs and hung up.

The main difference of opinion was on the size of the cap on punitive damages I wanted a $500,000 cap; Bullock wanted $1,000,000. If we could get agreement on this legislation, the other five tort bills that were part of the reform package would move quickly. An adviser suggested a compromise: How about a bill with a $750,000 threshold? No question that would improve the system.

We called Bullock. This call was shorter. "Governor Bush," Bullock started in his formal way, "You're going to be one helluva governor. Good night."

Source: Decision Points, p. 56-8, on 1995 Texas Voting Record SB 25 , Nov 9, 2010

Draw House districts by panel of non-partisan elders

One way to reduce the influence of the ideological extremes is to change the way we elect our members of Congress. In 2006, only about 45 of 435 House races were seriously contested. Since members in so-called safe districts do not have to worry about challenges from the opposite party, their biggest vulnerability is getting outflanked in their own party. This is especially true in the era of bloggers. The result is that members of Congress from both parties tend to drift toward the extremes as insurance against primary challengers.

Our government would be more productive--and our politics more civilized--if congressional districts were drawn by panels of nonpartisan elders instead of partisan state legislatures. This would make for more competitive general elections and a less polarized Congress. Making the change would require politicians to give up some of their power, never an easy task. But for future presidents looking to tackle a big problem, this would be a worthy one to take on.

Source: Decision Points, by Pres. George W. Bush, p.306-307 , Nov 9, 2010

OpEd: Regulatory appointees protected their industries

Picking foxes to guard the henhouse was standard operating procedure during the Bush years, when appointments to federal regulatory agencies were often used as payback for rewarding major political donors, with industry hacks getting key government positions not because they were the best people to protect the public interest but because they were willing to protect the very industries they were meant to supervise.

That's what happened when Bush put Edwin Foulke, a lawyer with a long history of open hostility to health & safety regulations, in charge of the Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA), the agency meant to oversee workplace safety. Earlier in his career, Foulke led a successful effort to weaken OSHA's enforcement power.

Then there was Bush's choice of Mary Sheila Gall to head the Consumer Product Safety Commission, despite her tendency to blame consumers rather than manufacturers when defective products injured or killed. Thankfully, the Senate refused to confirm Gall.

Source: Third World America, by Arianna Huffington, p.142-143 , Sep 2, 2010

If you want someone to tinker with the system, that's not me

On Nov. 8, 1993, [Bush] announced he was running for governor: "If you want someone to fine-tune or tinker with the present system, that's not me If you're happy with the status quo, I'm not your candidate."

He took a swipe at Richards: "Our leaders should be judged by results, not by entertaining personalities or clever sound bites." Richards cited rising SAT scores, a lower dropout rate, & 350,000 new jobs during her tenure. This didn't jibe with voters' growing concern about the quality of public schools, increasingly violent juvenile crime, and uneven economic progress. It also made it clear she was running on the past, not her vision for the future. That mind-set is always dangerous, but especially so in a rapidly growing state like Texas, where officeholders must introduce themselves to a lot of new people every few years.

Bush worked to establish his dominance on his four issues: education reform education, juvenile justice, welfare, and tort laws.

Source: Courage and Consequence, by Karl Rove, p. 85-87 , Mar 9, 2010

Roberts nomination:attorney/client privilege limits evidence

In 1971, no revelation of insensitivity on issues of race or violations of civil liberties seemed to resonate or stir opposition to Justice Rehnquist. And then the Nixon administration claimed executive privilege to prohibit the committee from gaining access to memos that Rehnquist had written to Attorney General John Mitchell on these issues. Rehnquist also protested that disclosure of the memos would violate the privacy of the "attorney/client" relationship. I did not understand how this relationship could be "private." Nevertheless, we saw the same arguments being used decades later by President George W. Bush to block the committee's access to documents in the confirmation hearing of Rehnquist's former law clerk, John Roberts, to succeed his old boss as chief justice of the United States.
Source: True Compass, by Edward M. Kennedy, p.322 , Sep 14, 2009

Declined Congressional subpoena for White House advisers

[The Office of Homeland Security, OHS, a White House office, was the predecessor to the Cabinet-level Department of Homeland Security DHS. As OHS received $20B, Congress requested details, and] the president prohibited my testimony, holding to the tenet that Oval Office advisors are not subject to congressional subpoena power under the theory of executive privilege and that if I were to go to the Hill it would set a bad precedent.
Source: The Test of our Times, by Tom Ridge, p. 92 , Sep 1, 2009

More signing statements than all other presidents combined

As with some other abuses by the current administration, Bush is not the first president to attempt an expansion of executive authority, but his abuses are so far beyond those of any of his predecessors that they represent a difference of kind as well as degree.

Bill Clinton issued signing statements covering 140 laws over eight years, as compared with his predecessor, George H. W. Bush, who objected to 232 laws over four years. George W. Bush, by contrast, has issued more signing statements than all o his predecessors combined--challenging the constitutionality of more than 1,000 laws during his first 6 years in office.

The difference between the practice of Clinton & that of George W. Bush is not simply one of volume--though that alone is striking. Bush's signing statements rest on his theory of his own power is so vast that, in practice, it amounts to an assertion of power that is obviously unconstitutional--a power to simply declare what provisions of law he will and will not comply with.

Source: The Assault on Reason, by Al Gore, p.224 , Jul 1, 2008

Trust in government is undermined by congressional earmarks

Next week, I’ll send you a budget that terminates or substantially reduces 151 wasteful or bloated programs, totaling more than $18 billion. The budget that I will submit will keep America on track for a surplus in 2012. American families have to balance their budgets; so should their government.

The people’s trust in their government is undermined by congressional earmarks--special interest projects that are often snuck in at the last minute, without discussion or debate. Last year, I asked you to voluntarily cut the number and cost of earmarks in half. I also asked you to stop slipping earmarks into committee reports that never even come to a vote. Unfortunately, neither goal was met.

So this time, if you send me an appropriations bill that does not cut the number & cost of earmarks in half, I’ll send it back to you with my veto. And tomorrow, I will issue an executive order that directs federal agencies to ignore any future earmark that is not voted on by Congress.

Source: 2008 State of the Union address to Congress , Jan 28, 2008

FactCheck: Earmark veto threat takes no effect until 2009

Bush talked tough about Congressional “earmarks,” but don’t expect his actions to have any immediate effect on federal spending, saying, “I will issue an executive order that directs federal agencies to ignore any future earmark that is not voted on by Congress. If these items are truly worth funding, Congress should debate them in the open and hold a public vote.”

By earmarks that are “not voted on by Congress,” Bush means provisions that are specified in committee reports but are never part of the text of a bill. The vast majority of earmarks are of this type, so Bush is threatening to ignore or veto a fairly significant percentage of potential earmarks. But he’s not going to do it until fiscal year 2009. By not including the 2008 spending bills, the Executive Order gives Congress months to finagle their way around these changes.

Source: FactCheck.org on 2008 State of the Union address , Jan 28, 2008

Expose every earmark to a vote; cut earmarks in half by 2008

There is the matter of earmarks. These special interest items are often slipped into bills at the last hour--when not even C-SPAN is watching. In 2005 alone, the number of earmarks grew to over 13,000 and totaled nearly $18 billion. Even worse, over 90% of earmarks never make it to the floor of the House and Senate--they are dropped into committee reports that are not even part of the bill that arrives on my desk. You did not vote them into law. I did not sign them into law. Yet they are treated as if they have the force of law. The time has come to end this practice. So let us work together to reform the budget process ... 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 by the end of this session.
Source: 2007 State of the Union address to Congress , Jan 23, 2007

Congress should pass the line-item veto

I am pleased that members of Congress are working on earmark reform, because the federal budget has too many special interest projects. And we can tackle this problem together if you pass the line-item veto.
Source: 2006 State of the Union Address , Jan 31, 2006

Pass medical liability reform this year

Because lawsuits are driving many good doctors out of practice, leaving women in nearly 1,500 American counties without a single ob-gyn, I ask the Congress to pass medical liability reform this year.
Source: 2006 State of the Union Address , Jan 31, 2006

OpEd: Not interested in bringing best people to government

George W. Bush did not promise to bring the best people to government. Why? Because, in his working worldview, the best people don't really BELONG in government. It's just not the most important place, not the spot where the most vital work gets done. That would be the private sector. So why would you want the most talented people in government? You need them where things really count--making money.

I'm not being facetious. Think about it: If you believe, as conservatives do, that the private sector is more important than the public; that government should take less, do less, decide less; that it is full of inefficient people who want to take your money but don't know how to spend it, whose only approach to problem-solving is to throw money at problems and at unions, and to waste and abuse their big budgets (except for the military)--if you believe all this, then why would you want to fill it with all your best people?

Source: The Case for Hillary Clinton, by Susan Estrich, p.202 , Oct 17, 2005

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 2004) , Oct 15, 2004

2001: Blocked release of father's presidential documents

Bush made sure that the family's personal, financial, and political secrets remained sealed forever. After placing his records as Governor of Texas in his father's presidential library, Bush signed an executive order in 2001 that blocks the release of all presidential documents.

Until then, the National Archives had controlled the fate of White House documents, which automatically became public after 12 years. Under Bush's new rules, presidents now have the right to prevent the public from ever viewing their papers, even after they have died. Unless there is a successful court challenge to Bush's executive order, he will be able to bury the secrets of his father's direct involvement in the Iran-Contra scandal as well as his own complicity in waging war on Iraq.

In the past, the Bush family has managed to protect itself by providing limited access to a select few journalists. Now that the risks of exposure are far greater, and the former President is more vigilant than ever.

Source: The Family, by Kitty Kelley, p. xxiii , Sep 14, 2004

Model justices: Clarence Thomas and Antonin Scalia

The irony was plain. The Supreme Court itself had been an issue during the campaign. Both Bush and Gore had discussed the kind of justices they would appoint should vacancies occur. Governor Bush wanted justices who would interpret the law, not make it up. Vice President Gore wanted justices who would keep the Constitution in tune with changing times. Governor Bush held up Justices Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas as models. Vice President Gore cited the late Thurgood Marshall, who was appointed by President Lyndon Johnson and served until 1991. This was an issue on which Bush and Gore sharply disagreed. But who would have thought that the Supreme Court would in effect pick the individual who would in turn pick the next justices?
Source: First Among Equals, by Kenneth Starr, p. xviii , Oct 10, 2002

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 on 2000 election , 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 government.

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.
  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
Source: Speech: “Getting Results”, in “Renewing America’s Purpose” , Jun 9, 2000

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 basic priorities.
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

1978: Opposed term limits for Congress, in Congress race

Bush was considered the dark horse of the 1978 Congressional race [but] ran passionately against former Odessa mayor Jim Reese, who had the support of Ronald Reagan. Bush staked out moderate positions with a pro-entrepreneur, anti-Jimmy Carter platform, but Reese labeled him a liberal East Coast Republican aligned with the "Rockefeller wing" of the party. George W. opposed Reese on term limits for members of Congress, calling the concept "simplistic" and promising to serve "until I'm not effective."
Source: Fortunate Son, by J.H.Hatfeild, p. 61 , Aug 17, 1999

Cited 10th Amendment in TX inauguration

In his gubernatorial inauguration speech, Bush focused on "restoring government to its proper role," noting that the Tenth Amendment of the Constitution gave states all power not specifically granted to the federal government. "The spirit of that amendment has been forgotten in recent decades. I pledge to you, it will be forgotten no more," Bush promised. "As governor, I will use every resource at my disposal to make the federal government in Washington heed this simple truth: Texans can run Texas."

Local citizens, he said, should have a greater say. "By trusting Texans, the state is more likely to focus on its principle responsibilities: good and safe streets, excellent schools, help for those who cannot help themselves, and respect for private property."

The governor said he recognized that by giving greater freedom from government to individuals, "we run the risk that sometimes, some of them will fail. But mistakes made closest to the people are those most easily corrected."

Source: Fortunate Son, by J.H.Hatfield, p.145 , Aug 17, 1999

Forge good public policy by leaders discussing privately

When the 74th Texas Legislature convened in January 1995 for its 140-day session, Governor Bush told lawmakers he was voted into office by an electorate that thought schools weren't good enough, crime was too high, lawyers made too much money, and welfare was too cushy. Not coincidentally, the conservative-leaning Legislature, led by Lieutenant Governor Bullock and House Speaker Laney, had already been working on overhauling state laws governing all four.

During the legislative session, every Wednesday morning Bush, Bullock, and Laney would breakfast together.

"We disagree, but you'll never read about it," the governor said of his meetings with the 2 lawmakers. "The way to forge good public policy amongst the leadership of the legislative branch and executive branch is to air our differences in private meetings that happen all the time," Bush explained. "The way to ruin a relationship is to leak things and to be disrespectful of meeting in private."

Source: Fortunate Son, by J.H.Hatfield, p.147 , Aug 17, 1999

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: 1998 National Political Awareness Test , 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

Source: GeorgeWBush.com/News/ “1999 Texas Legislative Record” , Jun 25, 1999

George W. Bush on Campaign Finance Reform

2004: Called for end to all independent group ads

The "Swift Boat Veterans for Truth" ad, "Sellout," featured footage of Kerry speaking before Congress in 1971, when he accused the American military of atrocities in Vietnam. Kerry pressed the FEC to order the ad's removal, and he put up his own spot accusing Bush of running a "smear" campaign. The charge was ludicrous. It didn't matter if Kerry accused (without any evidence) the Bush campaign of being behind the ad. The ad raised disturbing questions from Kerry's character.

By now, Bush could not dodge the controversy and, on Aug. 23, he responded to a reporter's question by calling for an end to all ads by independent groups. Democrats refused. The "Swifties" also dismissed the president's call, saying they would keep running ads. They ran seven new ones before the end of the campaign, spending about $19 million. They were easily the most effective independent ads of 2004.

Of course, I was blamed for Swift Board ads. I had no role in any of it, though the Swifties did a damned good job.

Source: Courage and Consequence, by Karl Rove, p.388-390 , Mar 9, 2010

Private soft money OK, with full & prompt disclosure

Source: Letter to Senator Trent Lott , Mar 15, 2001

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 individuals
  • Raise the limit on individual donations from $1,000 to $3,400 in each election
  • Introduce “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 contributions
  • Reformers 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 coverage: 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

    Support tweaking campaign finance rules & upping $1000 limit

    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

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    Page last updated: Feb 22, 2022