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O'Reilly-Bush Interview -- Part II

Reported by Judy - September 29, 2004 -

Here is a transcript of Tuesday night's segment of Bill O'Reilly's interview with George Bush.

O'REILLY: How will the federal government ever pay off the federal deficit, in your opinion?

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: By being fiscally wise and growing our economy.

O'REILLY: Do you think it can be paid off in our lifetime?

BUSH: The deficit?


BUSH: You mean, to have the revenues exceed the expenses in the budget?

O'REILLY: See, we have a big deficit here...

BUSH: Are you talking about the debt or the deficit?

O'REILLY: The deficit.

BUSH: Yes.

O'REILLY: People are saying that because we have to fight this war on terror, because of the tax cuts, you know the propaganda. It's all over the place.

BUSH: Yes. Well, I think we can -- of course I think we can balance the budget. As a matter of fact, I put out a budget that says we'll cut it in half in five years. Now, that's going to mean that the Congress has to be fiscally wise with our money.

O'REILLY: Has that ever happened?

BUSH: Yes, it's happening, seriously. One -- you know, I get accused for not having vetoed any budgets. One reason why is I because I've worked with Speaker Hastert and leader Frist, and formerly working with leader Lott, to develop a budget that shrunk discretionary spending, that was reasonable about the growth in discretionary spending.

It's now non-defense, non-homeland, discretionary spending is less than 1 percent in our budget. And that was -- we're growing at less than 1 percent. When I became president, it was growing at 15 percent. So we've made some progress. The reason I believe tax cuts were necessary is because we were in a recession and we needed to grow this economy.

O'REILLY: But I'm rich and I'm getting a tax cut from you. Tax cuts for the rich. What do you think when you hear that?

BUSH: I think that -- I think that if you're going to have tax cuts, everybody who pays taxes ought to get relief. I think...

O'REILLY: Even the rich, bad guys like me?

BUSH: I think that -- I think 35 percent is enough for anybody to pay in federal taxes. I also know that when you're talking about taxing the rich, really what you're talking about is taxing many small business owners. Ninety percent of the small business owners are sub Chapter S corporations or limited partnerships. They pay tax at the individual income tax rate. And so when you hear the politicians saying tax the rich, you're talking about taxing job creators as well.

O'REILLY: And entrepreneurs, like me.

BUSH: Entrepreneurs like you. I think raising taxes would be a mistake. And my opponent is going to raise taxes.

O'REILLY: Do you think the federal government has a moral obligation to pay Americans' health bills?

BUSH: A moral obligation to pay -- no, I think the federal government has an obligation to help those who cannot help themselves.

O'REILLY: Even if they are alcoholics or drug addicts?

BUSH: That's why -- well, that's why I'm for community health centers. And that's why I am for providing places where people can get preventative care, as well as primary care without going to emergency rooms and hospitals. I think it is a wise use of taxpayers' money.

Secondly, I believe that the federal government must help seniors. It's an obligation we took on when Lyndon Johnson was the president. And the Medicare proposal that -- Medicare bill I signed is one that modernizes Medicare, gives seniors more choices. It says there will be a prescription drug benefit for seniors. It provides preventative care for seniors, so we can diagnose early. It is a good piece of legislation that honors an obligation to our seniors.

I think we also ought to help people who are uninsured find insurance by doing practical things, such as allowing small businesses to pool risk across jurisdictional boundaries. These are called association health plans, so they can buy insurance at the same discounts big companies can.

O'REILLY: But aren't we becoming an entitlement society here with the government helping -- and I understand. I mean, you've got to be a compassionate person, whether you're a Democrat or a Republican. But the government gets bigger and bigger and bigger. Now we're in prescription drugs. We're in...

BUSH: Well, let me stop you on the prescription drugs just for a second. Prescription drugs is a part of medicine. And we provided -- we said to the seniors we'd provide you medicine. We put the money up for heart surgery. We wouldn't put the money up for the prescription drug coverage necessary to prevent the heart surgery from happening in the first place. So that's a wise use of modernizing Medicare.

I think it's going to save us money in the long term. I know it's going to provide our seniors better coverage and care. And seniors are going to have a choice in this plan. In other words, we've introduced market reform into the -- into Medicare for the first time. And that's why it was opposed by my opponent, and many people who believe we ought to nationalize health care.

This is -- what you're talking about is an issue in this campaign. And that is, do we increase the reach of the federal government to the lives of our citizens?

O'REILLY: Right.

BUSH: My answer is no, we shouldn't on health care, for example. I believe that we ought to have health savings accounts and expand them and provide incentives to small businesses, to provide health savings accounts for their employees. I believe low-income, working Americans ought to be given a tax credit to apply to a health savings account, all aimed at making sure that the decisions between the doctor and patient are central to the health care decision-making process.

O'REILLY: I asked your wife this question. Why is the country so divided? All the polls show divided on Iraq, divided on the presidential race. Why? You ran on a uniter, not divider ticket.

BUSH: Right. Well, it was pretty divided in the 2000 election, as I recall.


BUSH: Well, it's just one -- a period of history. You know, and I'm doing my best to bring people together. We've been united at times during my presidency. We were united after September the 11th. We were united going into Afghanistan.

O'REILLY: But why did it go out? Is there one thing that's polarized the nation?

BUSH: I -- well, you know, we'll see how polarized it is on election day for starters, but the Iraq war was -- is a polarizing event because a lot of people didn't see the wisdom of going into Iraq.

O'REILLY: The Big Mac world picture. The big picture about fighting terrorism through Iraq.

BUSH: Well, I think -- you know, I mean, there was -- I believe that we have to take threats seriously before they fully materialize. I saw a threat in Saddam Hussein. Everybody saw a threat in Saddam Hussein. My opponent saw a threat in Saddam Hussein.

O'REILLY: Not Jacques Chirac.

BUSH: Well, he voted yes at the Security Council.

O'REILLY: Yes, but he stabbed you guys in the back. You thought he was going to help you, and he didn't.

BUSH: Well, the first resolution that took place in -- right after my -- well, not right after my speech, but shortly after my speech at the General Assembly in 2002. The resolution said -- the resolution said disclose, disarm, or face serious consequences. And France voted aye.

When it came time after diplomacy had failed to define serious consequences, that's where we had a divergence of opinion. I believe when international bodies speak, they ought to mean what they say. And I believe when a president speaks, he ought to mean what he says.

O'REILLY: What's Chirac's problem?

BUSH: In Iraq?

O'REILLY: He hasn't been a great ally to the U.S. since 9/11. He doesn't want NATO forces to protect elections in Afghanistan. Come on. I mean this guy is...

BUSH: Well, they're helping us in Afghanistan some. They've helped us in Haiti some. But you know, he just didn't see the wisdom of the action in Iraq. And I think history is going to prove him wrong.

O'REILLY: Do you think it's political? You think he's playing to his left wing base in France?

BUSH: Well, you better get him on your show, FACTOR, because I don't want to put words into -- I'll tell you this, I'll tell you this, if Saddam Hussein were in power today, we'd be a heck of a lot worse off. And it's really important for us to understand that. This guy had the capability of making weapons. I believe he was trying to delay and hope that the world would turn its head once again. Remember, there was, what, 17 different U.N. resolutions.

O'REILLY: Oh, it's ridiculous.

BUSH: Totally ignored.

O'REILLY: On that one, I am with you.

BUSH: He would have been completely strengthened if the United States and the world had not acted.

O'REILLY: Well, what about the guys who died in the first Gulf War when we signed a cease-fire that he disobeyed -- are we supposed to let those guys just be buried in the sand and not do anything?

Look, I'm -- everybody knows I'm with you on that one.


O'REILLY: All right, did he call me FACTOR, by the way? When we come back, the president will talk about the anti Kerry swift boat controversy and his own National Guard deal, coming up.


O'REILLY: Continuing now with THE FACTOR world exclusive, our interview with President Bush.


O'REILLY: In light of the CBS document fiasco, do you think you get a fair shake from the network news and the elite media like "The New York Times"? Do you think your administration and you get a fair shake?

BUSH: O'Reilly, you know I'm smarter than that to be taking on the press in the middle of a campaign.

O'REILLY: Well, let's talk philosophically. Let's talk philosophically. Do you think you get a fair shake?

BUSH: Yes. Look, that's up for the people to decide that. You know, I just tell people what I think. And I try to be as clear as I can be. You know, when it's all said and done and people look at this campaign, they're going to have to decide whether or not they want somebody who tells them what he believes and doesn't change positions based upon pressure in polls or articles in newspapers.

O'REILLY: A guy over at "Newsweek," Evan Thomas, one of the editors over there, said 80 percent in the elite media favors Kerry. That doesn't surprise you, does it?

BUSH: Not really.

O'REILLY: Do you have any theory on why college professors, pinhead press people -- and I'm in one of those, by the way I'm a pinhead press -- why they go into the liberal realm?

BUSH: No, I really haven't...

O'REILLY: Because you went to Yale and Harvard.

BUSH: I did.

O'REILLY: And they're all pinhead liberals over there, right?

BUSH: I haven't spent a lot of time analyzing why professors feel the way they feel.

O'REILLY: You just want to get out of the class. I was the same way. I don't care what you think. All right. Do you think you got any preferential treatment getting into the Air Guard during Vietnam?

BUSH: No, not at all. As a matter of fact, the general that -- or the commander of the unit, Buck Staudt, had said the same thing, no.

O'REILLY: So you don't think you got any preferential treatment because you were a Bush?

BUSH: No, I don't. If I did, I'm not aware of it. And again, the commander of my unit, Buck Staudt, said the other day publicly Bush got no preferential treatment.

O'REILLY: If you had to do anything again during those years, if you had to relive them, would you have done anything differently?

BUSH: No, I fulfilled my duty and was honorably discharged. I think I had about 570 flying hours. And...

O'REILLY: Now, all this was propaganda. All of this that you didn't...

BUSH: I was on active duty for a little over a year and a half. And I proudly served. Had my unit been called up, I'd have gone.

O'REILLY: They say you didn't register in Massachusetts. Is that bogus?

BUSH: I fulfilled my duties. I mean, this is -- I did exactly what my commanders told me to do.

O'REILLY: OK. Do you think the swift boat vets' charges against Kerry are unfair?

BUSH: I think that these ads -- first of all, I said clearly, all these ads, these 527s, with billionaires funding campaigns, ought to be gone.

O'REILLY: Yes, I agree.

BUSH: I thought I signed a bill that did that, but evidently the regulatory bodies didn't agree. And we've now just got money flooding into the system. And has been flooding in for over a year into this system, that not only puts TV ads up but also...


O'REILLY: Excuse me. It's just corrupt, and we know it. But the swift boat guys against Kerry, do you think that was fair?

BUSH: As I said, I was asked about whether or not Kerry lied. I said no, he didn't lie. That was my judgment.

Now, I don't know enough about the swift boat people. I do know that they've got strong opinions. And I believed that those ads, as well as other types of ads, shouldn't have been on the air.

O'REILLY: You didn't know anything about the swift boat ads before they went on the air, did you?

BUSH: No, I didn't.

O'REILLY: Karl Rove know anything about it?

BUSH: I don't think so. In other words, are you asking whether we coordinated this in our campaign?

O'REILLY: No, whether they gave you a heads up they were going to do it.

BUSH: Not to my knowledge.


O'REILLY: OK. Tomorrow, the questions of the president get personal, including one about how he reacts when people criticize his religious faith. That's up tomorrow.

So how's the interview going so far, in your opinion? We posted a brand new billoreilly.com poll question asking you to grade President Bush's performance. You have seen about 80 percent of it, as well as mine, using an A through F grading system. Your turn to be the evaluator on this interview. Billoreilly.com. Boy, that'll be an interesting poll, huh? In a moment, we'll analyze what the president said tonight. And later on the broadcast, a flamboyant Donald Trump will analyze both presidential contenders. He's ahead.