• This is a partial transcript from "The Journal Editorial Report," February 25, 2006, that was edited for clarity.

    PAUL GIGOT, HOST: When President Bush was elected, many in the conservative movement saw him as the heir apparent to the Reagan legacy of fiscal conservatism and smaller government. But my guest this week says George W. Bush has turned out to be no Ronald Reagan.

    Bruce Bartlett was a domestic policy aide under President Reagan, and a deputy assistant treasury secretary under the first President Bush. He's author of the new book "Imposter: How George W. Bush bankrupted America and betrayed the Reagan Legacy."

    Bruce, welcome to the program.


    GIGOT: Imposter, betrayed, strong words. What's your complaint with the way President Bush has governed?

    BARTLETT: Well, you said in your opening that he's no Ronald Reagan. Well, in the book I say he's not even a Bill Clinton, I'm afraid.

    At least on the budget, Bill Clinton was a heck of a lot better. He actually cut spending. He reduced deficits.

    This president finds no spending program worthy of a veto. And I think it's just appalling that he's five plus years into his term, into his presidency, and has never vetoed a single, solitary bill.

    GIGOT: But, Bruce, one of those reasons is defense. We had a big event, here, called 9/11.

    BARTLETT: That's right.

    GIGOT: And Bill Clinton reduced spending, in part, because he could cut defense spending from about 5 percent of the economy to 3 percent. President Bush had to take that up. Wasn't some of this spending inevitable and even responsible given the change in the circumstances?

    BARTLETT: Oh, sure. When I criticize him on spending, I leave aside defense and homeland security.

    The motivation for me to write the book, in fact, was the Medicare Drug Bill, which I just think is still appalling. And a bit tongue-in-cheek, I call it the worst legislation in history.

    GIGOT: There's a lot of those.

    BARTLETT: Well, George Will pointed out that, well, the fugitive slave law was pretty bad too. And maybe the income tax law of 1913.

    But I was just appalled by his massive support for that legislation, to ram it through the House of Representatives, against principle conservative opposition. And we know the story about Nick Smith, who was virtually bribed.

    And I think that this is just going to cost us so much down the road that it's going to lead to a massive tax increase.

    GIGOT: Nick Smith was a congressman from...

    BARTLETT: Michigan.