George W. Bush's Political Views
The 43rd President of the United States, George W. Bush served in the White House from 2001 to 2009 before giving way to President Barack Obama. During his 8 years in the White House, Bush oversaw the end of the Internet Stock Boom, the terrorist attacks of September 11th, 2001, two wars in Afghanistan in Iraq, and the beginning of the worst financial crisis in the United States since the Great Depression. Vilified as an "idiot" and "cowboy" by Democrats and beloved as a conservative hero by many Republicans, W is known for his personality and "Bushisms" as much his political views. But what where his real political views? Was he as conservative as his Democratic opponents claimed, or as free-spending as some Republicans now view him? This hub will attempt to take an unbiased look at President Bush's political beliefs to see where he really stood on the key issues that affected the country during his two terms in office.
Bush on the Issues
1. Foreign Policy: Bush was the lead architect of the "War on Terrorism" launched after the September 11th attacks, a policy which led to U.S. wars in Afghanistan (started in 2001) and Iraq (launched in 2003). Bush's foreign policy was governed by the so-called "Bush Doctrine", which justified the use of force to secure the United States against terrorist groups, even if doing so infringed on the sovereignty of foreign countries. As Bush explained in early 2002 during a speech to cadets at West Point: "We cannot defend America and our friends by hoping for the best. We cannot put our faith in the word of tyrants, who solemnly sign non-proliferation treaties, and then systemically break them. If we wait for threats to fully materialize, we will have waited too long — Our security will require transforming the military you will lead — a military that must be ready to strike at a moment's notice in any dark corner of the world. And our security will require all Americans to be forward-looking and resolute, to be ready for preemptive action when necessary to defend our liberty and to defend our lives." Bush enjoyed huge support for his foreign policy efforts during the first few years of his presidency, however, during his second term, support waned, especially as it became clear that the regime in Iraq had no involvement in the September 11th attacks and the U.S. became increasingly embroiled in long-standing wars in both Iraq and Afghanistan. In contract to his pursuit of wars in the Middle East, Bush also pushed for increased U.S. support for AIDS relief in Africa, a program, which some analysts estimate have saved up to 5 million lives on the continent.
2. Health Care: Bush opposed Democratic efforts to expand Medicare through the "State's Children's Health Insurance Program", which would have increased federal support for state efforts to expand health coverage to all children. Bush justified his veto by explaining that the bill could apply to families making up to $83,000 a year, a figure which "doesn't sound poor to me." Earlier in his presidency, Bush signed a bill expanding the prescription drug coverage provided by Medicare for older Americans, a measure which one pundit described as "the greatest expansion in America's welfare state in 40 years", as the measure is estimated to cost the government $7 trillion over it's lifetime.
3. Budget Deficits and Taxation: Bush began his Presidency by pushing for large tax cuts, a measure which passed in the Economic Growth and Tax Reconciliation Act of 2001 which reduced the tax rates for most Americans, including reducing the highest tax rate from 39.6% to 35%. Bush explained his support for the tax cuts as follows: ".the surplus is not the government’s money. The surplus is the people’s money." However, the Bush administration ran up consistent deficits during its 8 years in office, largely due to the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq and the failure to raise taxes to cover the expenses of these two wars. In total, government spending rose over 60% during Bush's 8 years in office. Over the same period, government revenues increased by only 35%. The imbalance between these two figures resulted in the national debt more than doubling from $5 trillion to over $11 trillion during Bush's Presidency.
4. Education: With bi-partisan support, Bush signed the No Child Left Behind Act in 2002, a measure which attempted to increase federal support for low income schools and increase the accountability of school teachers and administrators for student performance. At the end of his Presidency, Bush defended the bill against critics who described it as forcing teachers to focus heavily on "teaching to the test", stating "Testing is important to solve problems. You can't solve them unless you diagnose the problem in the first place. Testing is important to make sure children don't slip too far behind. The facts are, if you get too far behind in reading, for example, it's nearly impossible to catch up. That's why it's important to test early."
5. Immigration: .Bush consistently cited the need for immigration reform during his 8 years in office, calling for Congress to pass a program which conferred work permits to the estimated 12 million immigrants thought to be living in the country illegally. Bush strongly supported the Comprehensive Immigration Reform Act of 2007, a bill which was voted down to Republican opposition. After the bill was defeated, Bush released a statement expressing his disappointment, stating that "legal immigration is one of the top concerns of the American people and Congress's failure to act on it is a disappointment. The American people understand the status quo is unacceptable when it comes to our immigration laws. A lot of us worked hard to see if we couldn't find a common ground -- it didn't work."
6. Global Warming and the Environment: One of Bush's first acts upon taking office in 2001 was to pull the United States out of the Kyoto Protocol, an attempt to introduce a global system for addressing global warming that had been negotiated by the Clinton administration. While in office, Bush stated that while he believed global warming was real, "there is debate over whether it's man-made or naturally caused."
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