A Fiscal Conservative’s Interview with President George Bush

By Alex Dashevsky

E-mail: hturt4u@aol.com

I contacted the White House’s Media office requesting an interview with President Bush. Many of

President Bush’s supporters complain that there is a liberal bias in the media, especially when it

comes to budget issues like the deficit. I wanted to give them this opportunity to speak to a true

fiscal conservative.

Unfortunately, none of my calls have been returned. But, just because the White House wouldn’t

provide the President does not mean that I should deny my readers this interview.

Fiscal Conservative (FC): Hello Mr. President. It is an honor to speak to you today. First of all, I

want to compliment you for the way your campaign has defined Senator Kerry’s position on the

budget deficit. You have proven beyond any reasonable doubt that he is a tax and spend

Massachusetts’s liberal.

President George W. Bush (PB): Thank you, and that is because he is. His plans are to increase

spending. He has voted in the past to raise taxes to pay for all of his federal programs that he

wants to create. That is not good for American families or businesses. This election will be

decided on philosophy, and that is how I believe my philosophy differs from my opponent.

FC: That is actually what I wanted to talk to you about. You have been pounding Senator Kerry

on his vision, but despite being in office for four years, many fiscal conservatives that I talk to

everyday are confused by what your philosophy is on the budget deficit. Please comment on what

you meant, as was reported by the Washington Post {italics added}:

"Those who are worried about the deficit must first worry, I hope would worry first, about

people being able to find work, like in Washington state," Bush said to reporters near

Seattle. "I am more concerned about somebody finding a job than I am about numbers

on paper."

Could you please explain to the American people what you meant by "numbers on paper", and

could you understand how many conservatives worry that you are not taking the budget deficit or

your fiscal responsibility very seriously.

PB: What I meant when I said that was look, I have traveled around this nation, and I see people

out of work. For the media to criticize me for trying to get people jobs, by giving them their money

back, that is a different philosophy that I hold, and that I stand by. Many in the media may not

share that philosophy with me, but I stand by it. Most of this shortfall has been caused by the

economic slowdown that we have been experiencing since me and Dick were campaigning in

2000. The best way to fight the slowdown is to cut taxes, and allow the American people to grow

the economy by giving them back their own money.

FC: I think that most Fiscal Conservatives understand that Presidents receive far too much blame

for bad economies, and far too much credit for good economies. You said as much in the 2000

campaign about President Clinton. Presidents don’t create jobs; it is the people who do. The only

thing that the President can control is those numbers on paper. Could you see how many

conservatives believe that the only job you are trying to save is your own?

PB: I would say to these fiscal conservatives that this administration has been the most fiscal

conservative in a generation. We have given the American people the biggest tax cuts in history,

and I believe that we have earned their support.

FC: Some have argued that whenever questions of the deficit come up, there is a button that the

White House presses, which says "Its not our fault, it is 9-11, corporate scandals, Iraq,

recession". Is there really a button like that in the White House?

PB: There are all sorts of rumors going around on the Internets-… I am unaware of such a button-

FC: I am sure that was meant as a joke. Still, many Presidents have faced adversity, but none

has run up deficits as high as your administration. Could you explain to the American People why

you have let non-military discretionary spending rise by 21%? Could you please do this without

using the words 9-11, Corporate Scandals, Iraq, or recession?

PB: (after a long uncomfortable silence) Look, shortly after I took office, there has been a whole…

there is now something missing in Manhattan, a chasm. Also, while I have been in office, several

of the fortune 100 companies that used to be there…are no longer there. We have several

hundred thousand of our young people called up from the reserves, leaving their jobs and families

who are protecting our freedom in the Middle East. So yes, there are reasons for the deficit. We

have a huge economy, and as a percent of GDP, these deficits are smaller than they were under

the Reagan administration.

FC: Paul O’Neill, your former Treasury Secretary quoted your Vice President, Dick Cheney as

saying "Reagan proved that deficits don’t matter". So, I want to ask you, does this administration

believe that deficits matter?

PB: Of course deficits matter, but what Dick was trying to say is look, Reagan proved that deficits

are manageable, and they will go back to surplus once we get this economy going again.

FC: Many of the people that both supported you in the 2000 election feel like you are

administering a 1980’s budget in 2004.

First of all, this is the last presidential election before the baby boomers start to retire. Whereas

there used to be six workers for every retiree after Reagan got out of office, very soon there will

be only 2 for every retiree.

Second of all, in 1970 Congress developed the Alternative Minimum Tax (AMT). They invented

this because so many of the rich used complex tax breaks to avoid paying taxes. They decided

on a flat rate of 26% on the first $175,000 of taxable income and 28% after that. Whereas in

1970, only the super rich had a household income of $175,000, today it is not that unusual for an

upper middle class couple to bring in that much. In 2002, 2 million taxpayers faced the AMT.

Because the AMT does not take into account inflation, by 2010 35 million taxpayers will be

earning $175,00, and face AMT. What worries many deficit hawks is that it is unlikely that you

will raise taxes on 35 million Americans in 6 years, so that any change in tax law will end up

raising the deficit figures further.

Finally, you speak as if America was mired in a recession. GDP is currently growing fairly briskly

(though maybe joblessly). If we can’t balance a budget today, how can you reassure my readers

that you will be able to do it in the next four years?

PB: Four years ago, if you told me that after what this country has been through in the war

against terrorism, that I have delivered over a trillion dollars of tax cuts that has caused the

economy to grow at its fastest rate in a generation, and we are at the beginning of a job creating

bubble, all this while I have reformed Medicare, what is known as the third rail of American

politics. I was able to do this while creating a White House that America is not ashamed of, that

has brought back honor and integrity, that Mothers across this nation can look at as an

inspiration. That is what the election will be about.

FC: You bring up a couple of interesting points, though none of them answer my question. First of

all, I wanted to address the concept of honor and integrity. You criticized the previous

administration because of the sexual scandals. President Clinton was held to a higher standard,

and paid a severe price for cheating on his wife. How do you tell teenagers today not too max out

their credit cards recklessly, if we don’t hold the Federal Government to that same standard?

Many fiscal conservatives see consumer debt as a bigger threat to the American way of life than

sex in the oval office.

PB: Well, I’ve never thought about it that way…and um yes, I think that Congress should work

with me to get spending in order.

FC: You criticize Congress for spending too much, yet in the last four years, how many spending

bills did you veto?

PB: Well, you see I have worked with congressional leaders such as Tom Delay. We have had

such a great relationship, that I have not needed to use this tool-…

FC: So, forgive me for interrupting you Mr. President. This is an important point. You criticize

Congress for spending. Regardless of who wins the election in November, we will have a

Republican House and probably a Republican Senate. Convince my readers that the next 4 years

will be any different than the previous 4 years.

PB- I have a proven record working with Congress to get spending under control, and we have

not needed to use a veto. It seems that anyone who wants to cast stones at my conservative

credentials and put me on the spot, should be able to tell me what they would do differently. I

would like to know, give me one bill that your fiscal conservatives would have wanted me to veto?

FC- I will do better than that, I will give you three. For one, the American Jobs Creation Act of

2004. This bill started out as a small $5 billion adjustment in the way we subsidize exporters. The

Congress was forced to do this under a ruling by the World Trade Organization. Yet, it has turned

into a 650-page monster, subsidizing everything from bow and arrows to Chinese ceiling fans.

The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, a respected think tank of both Republicans and

Democrats estimated the cost at over $80 billion over the next decade. Another example of

spending I would have vetoed is the $500 billion Medicare Prescription Drug Bill, which was

passed a year ago purporting to cost just $400 billion. Or, the farm bill, costing taxpayers $73

billion over the decade for the benefit of mostly rich farmers.

Look, fiscal conservatives such as myself have a philosophy different than deficit spenders such

as yourself. We support cutting taxes over subsidizing ceiling fans and providing a prescription

drug benefit to the elderly. That is a difference in philosophy, and we agree to disagree. But, fiscal

liberals such as yourself think that you can continue to both increase spending and cut taxes.

That is not a difference in philosophy, that is a difference in reality.

PB- Well, I disagree with your analysis. I thought this was going to be a discussion about tax

policy, but this has turned into an attack session.

FC- I am sorry you feel that way Mr. President. I will let you get in the last word. Why should we

as fiscal conservatives vote for you in the next election?

PB-This economy has hit hard times, trying times. Yet, my tax cuts have grown this economy.

Home ownership is the highest it’s ever been. Unemployment and interest rates are at all time

lows. Considering what we have been through, this is a strong and resilient economy. For 2004,

the US economy is going to grow by almost 4.3%-

FC- - So let me get this straight, for fiscal year 2004, the government ran up a Budget deficit of

4.7%. So, the entire economy grew by less than what we have borrowed. Only Ken Lay’s

accountants at Enron could put such a good spin on this one.

PB-Uhh…thank you for your interview…. Well, I think your readers understand that my opponent

is going to raise taxes and increase spending for his risky and expensive medical plan. He

doesn’t explain how he is going to pay for it, I would tell your readers that he is going to get his

money from you. That is a difference in philosophy that we have. That is what this election is


Of course this interview never actually took place, as very few conservative journalists have

dared asked this President the hard questions about the economy or the deficit. Though no one

has ever asked these questions of our President, that does not mean that voters shouldn’t.


"Wall Street Seeks Clearer Deficit Signal" Washington Post 8/24/03



"The Bush Tax Cut" Brookings Institution 6/2002