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That's rich, Mr. President

June 18, 2009 | 11:56 am

George W. Bush, President Barack Obama, budget, deficits, Socialism The former president finally joins his ex-No. 2 and takes a swipe (though less directly than Dick Cheney) at President Obama's economic and national security policies:

Former President George W. Bush fired a salvo at President Obama on Wednesday, asserting his administration's interrogation policies were within the law, declaring the private sector -- not government -- will fix the economy and rejecting the nationalization of health care.

"I know it's going to be the private sector that leads this country out of the current economic times we're in," the former president said to applause from members of a local business group. "You can spend your money better than the government can spend your money."

This comes from a guy who spent a whole lot of our money (well, maybe not ours, but he certainly mortgaged our wealth to push government spending to astronomical levels). I don't mean to sound like a Bill Clinton nostalgic, but the 42nd president left his successor with a budget surplus bigger than $100 billion. Eight years, two wars, a $700 billion bank bailout (which was improperly used by the Bush administration to throw U.S. automakers a lifeline), a massive expansion of Medicare and record annual deficits later, the U.S. Treasury is in the red by more than $11 trillion. And for much of Bush's presidency (during which GOP apologists lectured critics on the insignificance of massive deficits to the overall economy, only now to argue for reining in spending), the U.S. economy was growing.

Bush handed Obama a pile of precedents to intervene in the "private sector" as presidents rarely have since Franklin Roosevelt (e.g., the aforementioned Detroit bailout, the Wall Street bailouts, the AIG takeover, the Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae takeovers....) The only president who makes Bush look like a penny-pincher is Obama -- and Bush not only enabled Obama, he's responsible for the lion's share of the current deficit.

Imagine an alcoholic father scolding his kid for smoking pot. Somewhere in his rambling the father may have a point, but his credibility is totally demolished.

Photo: Bush waves as he is introduced to speak in Erie, Pa., on June 17 (Keith Srakocic / AP).

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