Bush in his own words
By Lee Russ
Monday, January 29, 2007 at 04:14 PM
From the transcript of NPR's interview of President Bush, conducted by Juan WIlliams today, January 29 (emphasis added):
MR. WILLIAMS: Now, you've got a vote tomorrow in the Senate to consider a resolution opposing the troop buildup. Vice President Cheney said last week that vote would validate the insurgents' strategy. And so, do you agree?
PRESIDENT BUSH: Well, there's a lot of strong opinions about it. My attitude is - my feeling to the Senate echoes what Joe Lieberman said the other day - Senator Joe Lieberman - and that is it is ironic that the Senate would vote 81 to nothing to send a general into Iraq who believes he needs more troops to do the job and then send a contradictory message. The legislatures will - legislators will do what they feel like they've got to do, and, you know, we want to work with them as best we can to make it clear what the stakes of failure will be, and also make it clear to them that I think they have a responsibility to make sure our troops have what they need to do the missions.
MR. WILLIAMS: Well, another question about Vice President Cheney - he said last week that - here I'm quoting - "we've encountered enormous successes and we continue to have enormous successes in Iraq." Two weeks ago you said, quote, "there hadn't been enough success in Iraq." So it sounds like there's a conflicting message there.
PRESIDENT BUSH: Oh, I don't think so. I think that the vice president is a person reflecting a half-glass-full mentality, and that is he's been able to look at - as have I, and I hope other Americans have - the fact that the tyrant was removed, 12 million people voted, there is an Iraqi constitution in place that is a model for - and unique for the Middle East.
I will tell you, 2005 was a great year for freedom, and then the enemy took a good look and said, what do we need to do to stop the advance of freedom, and 2006 was a tough year. And I have said that the progress is not good enough. In other words, people have asked me about whether or not I approve of the situation in Iraq and my answer is no. We can do better, but it's going to require an Iraqi government that does several things. One is provide security for its people, and therefore it's in our interest to train with them, to embed with them, and to fight alongside them for a period of time until Baghdad is secure. Two, they've got to reconcile.
MR. WILLIAMS: All right. You know, people are praying for you; people - the American people want to be with you, Mr. President, but you just spoke about the polls and they indicate the public - and you know about what's going up on Capitol Hill with the Congress, some in the military. Even many Iraqis, according to the polls, don't like the idea of sending more troops into Iraq. So I wonder if you could give us something to go on, give us something - say, you know, this is a reason to get behind the president right now.
PRESIDENT BUSH: Well, one way to - and one of the things I have found here in Washington amongst those who were skeptical about whether the Iraqis will do what it takes to secure their own freedom, is to remind them of what would happen if there's failure....See, the difference, Juan, between other conflicts in the past and this one is that failure would endanger the homeland. In other words, the enemy isn't going to be just contained in the Middle East if they succeed in driving us out or succeed in wrecking the Iraqi democracy. The enemy would be likely to follow us here.
MR. WILLIAMS: By the way, just quickly, Harry Reid, the Senate majority leader says that if you have an incursion into Iran, he expects that you would come to the Senate for approval.
PRESIDENT BUSH: I have no intent upon incur--going into Iran. I mean, this is the kind of thing that happens in Washington. People ascribe, you know, motives to me beyond a simple statement - of course we'll protect our troops. I don't know how anybody can then say, well, protecting the troops means that we're going to invade Iran. If that's what he's talking about, there's - I mean, we will protect our interests in Iraq. That's what the American people expect us to do. That's definitely what our troops want to do, and that's what the families of our troops want us to do. And if we find the Iranians are moving weapons that will end up harming American troops, we'll deal with it.
MR. WILLIAMS: Mr. President, you're bringing out a new budget next week, and I presume you're going to have healthcare, health insurance plan in it. To pay for some of the plan, some people who don't pay taxes on their health insurance plan now will have to pay taxes. Isn't that a tax increase for them?
PRESIDENT BUSH: No, really what it is, it's a rewriting of the tax code. We've got a tax code today that says if you get your insurance from a large employer, for example, it's part of your - it's a non-taxable event. And yet if you're an individual, like Juan Williams out there as an independent contractor, and you buy your own health insurance, you're at a tax disadvantage. And so I'm asking the Congress to reform the tax code to treat everybody fairly. And in my judgment, such a plan will encourage and enable more individuals to be able to buy health insurance, which will help us deal with the uninsured.
MR. WILLIAMS: Will the budget be balanced through spending restraint or taxes?
PRESIDENT BUSH: The budget is going to be balanced by keeping taxes low. In other words, we're not going to raise taxes. And as a result of keeping taxes low, the economy is doing just fine, and when the economy is doing well, it yields a certain level of tax revenues that we can live with. And then making sure that we constrain federal spending, and you do that by setting priorities. And our priority has got to be this global war on terror and supporting our troops, and protecting the homeland, and that is what our budget will say, and we can balance the budget within five years. And that is going to be - that is good for the country. And in so doing, we are dealing with the short-term deficits, but we have also got to deal with the long-term deficits inherent in, for example, programs like Social Security and Medicare.