President of the United States, Former Republican Governor (TX)
Lent $25B to auto companies from TARP money
[After the election] I told Barack Obama that I wouldn't let the automakers fail. I had opposed Jimmy Carter's bailout of Chrysler in 1979 and believed strongly that government should stay out of the auto business. Yet the economy was extremely fragile,
and my economic advisers had warned that the immediate bankruptcy of the Big Three could cost more than a million jobs.
The House had passed a bill offering $25 billion in loans to the auto companies in exchange for making their fleets more
fuel-efficient. But the Senate wouldn't budge. The only option left was to loan money from TARP. I wanted to use the loans as an opportunity to insist that the automakers develop viable business plans. Under the loans' stringent terms, the companies
would have until April 2009 to become self-sustaining by restructuring their operations & renegotiating labor contracts. If they could not meet all those conditions, the loans would be immediately called, forcing bankruptcy.
On September 27, 2001, the president talked with Gephardt about pulling the nation's economy back from the edge of a cliff. Gephardt wasn't so sure that action was needed on the economy.
The president had asked for proposals to stimulate the economy:
cut the corporate tax by 20%; change tax laws to allow small businesses to take better advantage of tax write-offs; repeal the corporate minimum tax; and allow companies to write off current losses against past profits for a longer period.
agreed that something needed to be done. But he suggested instead sending out rebate checks to low- & moderate-income households. Our team had considered rebates, but decided they would be used to pay down credit card debt, and not stimulate the economy.
We'd get less economic bang for our money and fewer jobs would be created, but the president wanted to signal to Gephardt he was willing to drop one of his positions in order to pick up one of Gephardt's. I thought Bush was being overly generous.
President Bush seemed to disdain any federal role in ensuring the future of one of our country's most far-reaching industries. "I can't make your automakers profitable," Bush had told me during a tour of the United Solar Ovonics facility in Auburn Hills.
In January 2006, Bush had been quoted as saying that the automakers simply needed to make "a product that's relevant."
Both remarks implied that the Detroit Three fully deserved their economic troubles--and if millions of workers and their families suffered along with the executives, well, that was just too bad.
So now, in the devastation of late 2008, the
unimaginable notion that the federal government might stand idly by as the American auto industry crashed and burned seemed all too frighteningly plausible. [However, Bush funded a $17B bailout.]
Reward, not punish, the efforts and dreams of entrepreneurs
To make our economy stronger and more competitive, America must reward, not punish, the efforts and dreams of entrepreneurs. Small business is the path of advancement, especially for women and minorities. So we must free small businesses
from needless regulation and protection honest job creators from junk lawsuits. Justice is distorted and our economy is held back by irresponsible class actions and frivolous asbestos claims, and I urge Congress to pass legal reforms this year.
Source: 2005 State of the Union Speech
, Feb 2, 2005
FactCheck: Bush indeed is half-owner of timber company
KERRY: The president got $84 from a timber company that [he half] owns, and he’s counted as a small business.
BUSH: I own a timber company? That’s news to me. Need some wood?
FACT CHECK: In fact, according to his 2003 financial disclosure form, Bush
does own part interest in “LSTF, LLC”, a limited-liability company organized “for the purpose of the production of trees for commercial sales.” So Bush was wrong to suggest that he doesn’t have ownership of a timber company. And Kerry was correct in
saying that Bush’s definition of “small business” is so broad that Bush himself would have qualified as a “small business” in 2001 by virtue of the $84 in business income. We should clarify: the $84 in Schedule C income was from Bush’s Lone Star Trust,
which is described on the 2001 income-tax returns as an oil and gas production business. The Lone Star Trust now owns 50% of the tree-growing company, but didn’t get into that business until two years after the $84 in question.
FactCheck: Kerry plan affects 471,000 companies, not 900,000
FACT CHECK: Bush once again claimed 900,000 “small businesses” would see a tax increase under Kerry’s proposal to raise taxes only on persons making over $200,000 a year. As we showed earlier , that’s an inflated number.
The nonpartisan Tax Policy Center calculates that 471,000 small employers would see an increase in taxes.
Source: Analysis of second Bush-Kerry debate by FactCheck 2004
, Oct 10, 2004
Kerry will tax small businesses
BUSH: Kerry says he’s only going to tax the rich. Do you realize, 900,000 small businesses will be taxed under his plan because most small businesses are Subchapter S corps or limited partnerships, and they pay tax at the individual income tax level.
And so when you’re running up the taxes like that, you’re taxing job creators, and that’s not how you keep jobs here.
KERRY: That’s just not true. The Wall Street Journal said 96% of small businesses are not affected at all by my plan. And you know why
he gets that count? The president got $84 from a timber company that[he partly] owns, and he’s counted as a small business. Dick Cheney’s counted as a small business. That’s how they do things. That’s just not right.
BUSH: I own a timber company?
That’s news to me. Need some wood? Most small businesses are Subchapter S corps. 70% of the new jobs in America are created by small businesses. Taxes are going up when you run up the top two brackets. It’s a fact.
No more easy money for corporate criminals, just hard time
The Bush administration has again and again greeted gloomy economic news with its favorite brand of economic relief: tax cuts for the rich.
What makes the free market ideology stronger than ever is that it is now powered by the nexus of money and
politics that dominates our political process.
"No more easy money for corporate criminals, just hard time," President Bush said when he signed the corporate reform bill in July 2002. It was supposed to usher in the new era of corporate responsibility,
but the new era message is nothing but a Madison Avenue gimmick--a "new and improved" label slapped on the same old package of deceit.
Watching the president smile for the cameras as he signed a reform bill he had never supported, I couldn't help but
wonder if the glint in his eye was because he knew something the rest of us didn't. That for all his get-tough promises, the bill would actually do very little to reduce the level of corporate influence over our government.
Enron news hit White House like a death in the family
In December 2001, the Enron Corporation, the world’s largest energy trader, confessed that it had been guilty of the biggest fraud in American history and was about to go bankrupt. The Enron news hit White House like a death in the family.
Enron had been to Texas what Microsoft was to Washington State: the leader of the local new Economy, a focus of hometown pride.
The tone of much of the reporting on Enron insinuated that the Bush team was somehow complicit in the Enron debacle or,
at any rate, had benefited from Enron’s fraud. Enron was often described as Bush’s “biggest supporter.” This was crazy. Different sources add up the money in different ways, but if you total every dollar that Enron, its affiliates,
and its executives and their families gave to Bush’s two gubernatorial campaigns, his run for president, the recount fight, the Republican convention in 2000, and the Bush inaugural in 2001, you would arrive at a figure of at most $1 million.
Why are we allowing the Bush administration to take us so blatantly in the wrong direction? The President appeals for sacrifice but then awards a mind-numbing tax cut to those who need it least, while imposing ever-greater burdens on the neediest among
us. He talks about national security but undermines the economic security of American families.
He asks us to join together in common purpose but then gives energy companies freedom to pollute, gives airline companies massive bailouts without a penny
for thousands of airline employees who lose their jobs, proposes to restore the 3-martini tax-deductible lunch beloved by Washington lobbyists, and wants to eliminate the corporate Alternative Minimum Tax enacted 15 years ago to make sure big companies
don't exploit so many tax loopholes they avoid paying taxes altogether. And he wants to eliminate it RETROACTIVELY so the big companies can get back whatever minimum taxes they paid over the past 15 years. True patriots should not accept any of this.
Enron donated $1M to GOP & advised Bush on energy plan
What is the Enron saga about? Enron’s bankruptcy, the largest in history, exposes the decay of corporate accountability in the new Gilded Age. Enron transformed itself from a gas pipeline company to an unregulated financial investment house willing and
able to buy and sell anything--energy futures, weather changes, bandwidth, state legislatures, regulators, senators, even Presidents.
Ken Lay and Enron were Bush’s leading supporters, contributing $113,800 directly to his campaign and another $888,265
to the Republican National Committee, an arm of the campaign, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. Bush repaid Lay and other “Pioneers”--those who raised $100,000 or more for his campaign--with his shameful tax plan.
He continues to push for a stimulus plan that benefits corporations over workers. He is pressing Congress to pass the Enron energy plan, which features massive subsidies to energy companies and further deregulation.
Source: The Nation, Editorial, “Enron Conservatives,” p. 4-5
, Feb 4, 2002
Federal government should stay out of the marketplace
I was deeply concerned about the drift toward a more powerful federal government. I was particularly outraged by two pieces of legislation, the Natural Gas Policy Act and the Fuel Use Act. It seemed to me that elite central planners were
determining the course of our nation. Allowing the government to dictate the price of natural gas was a move toward European-style socialism. If the federal government was going to take over the natural gas business, what would it set its sights on next?
Source: “A Charge to Keep”, p.172-173
, Dec 9, 1999
Stop hurting business with excessive punitive damage awards
Punitive damages have nothing to do with a victim’s actual damages. They are intended to punish a defendant for extraordinarily negligent or malicious behavior. But too often, that was not how they were being used; they were being used to terrorize
small-business owners and force higher and higher out-of-court settlements. Punitive damages of tens of millions of dollars became all too common, even when the dispute involved actual damages that were much smaller.
Source: “A Charge to Keep”, p.117
, Dec 9, 1999
1994: Tort reform is good for business and good for TX
The pro-business Texas legislature passed 7 bills to address the mounting perception that the court system was unfair to companies being sued. The new laws, which were quickly signed by the governor, limited punitive damages, overhauled the state's
deceptive trade practices, made it more difficult to sue doctors for malpractice, limited the liability of companies when more than one was to blame, and allowed judges to sanction lawyers for filing frivolous lawsuits.
A 1995 study by Public Citizen,
a watchdog group founded by Ralph Nader, later released a report to the Associated Press that showed 3/4 of the companies in which Bush owned stock, were defendant corporations and could be drastically affected by lawsuit reforms.
The governor claimed
that tort reform was "good for business" in Texas, and that everyone benefited because insurance premiums would fall. However, in the following years, rates did not decline and the insurance industry recorded profits at a 40-year high.
Gov. Bush supports the following principles concerning the economy and employment.
Reduce state government regulations on the private sector in order to encourage investment and economic expansion
Increase funding for state job-training programs
that re-train displaced workers or teach skills needed in today’s job market.Bush notes that he “proposed tax credits for companies to invest in research and development and a franchise tax cut for small business.”
Source: 1998 National Political Awareness Test
, Jul 2, 1998
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