Bush Takes Blame for Stimulus Package Failure
WASHINGTON – President Bush believes he had some legislative successes this year, and would have liked one more on economic stimulus, but he won't call Congress back to negotiate a deal before their scheduled return at the end of January.
"I thought it was important to get a good stimulus package out, as well as I thought it was very important to take care of displaced workers. And the bill that I supported and my administration helped craft with both Democrats and Republicans would have done just that. But we'll see when we come back and take a look," Bush told reporters in the Oval Office, where he unveiled a new cream-colored rug designed, in part, by his wife, Laura.
"I don't intend to bring them back early," he said.
Bush called his first year in office an overall success because of the passage of an education bill, tax cuts and other legislation he championed.
He said the failure to pass an economic revival package was "a big disappointment" but shouldered part of the blame.
"I think a lot of people are going to ask the question, "Why couldn't we get something done?" And, you know, one of my jobs was to facilitate an agreement," he said, adding that he is not angry at any party for failing to get a deal.
"I'm not angry at all. I'm joyous. I welcome the holiday season."
That holiday season is forefront in the president's mind. Twice in two days he has brought up the nation's security during the upcoming holidays.
"My fellow Americans need to know that as we head into this time of joy, that our nation is doing everything we can to protect our citizens; that we'll be on alert during the holiday season; that if we have any hint anybody wants to hurt us, we'll respond, to make sure that the good citizens of our land are able to celebrate peacefully with their families," Bush said Thursday at Martha's Table, a Washington food bank.
On Friday, the president became a bit emotional when asked whether the country was any safer now than before the attacks on Washington, New York and Pennsylvania.
"The country is more secure today and less vulnerable to attacks than before Sept. 11 because the enemy has made it clear that we are a target and we've responded," Bush said.
He said the federal agencies now share information better and are constantly on alert. In addition, military planes are still flying overhead to protect the nation from possible air attacks, the Federal Bureau of Investigation has changed its mandate to make preventing terror its first priority. Other nations have also provided intelligence about movements of suspected terrorists.
Bush warned U.S. allies and other nations that he expected them to continue rounding up terrorists as the United States moves its campaign beyond Afghanistan.
"Thank you for your condolences, I appreciate your flowers now arrest somebody," Bush said, adding that he keeps a list of the people who have been helpful and those who have not.
He said the U.S. government will provide its allies the the intelligence they need and show them where terrorist cells are in their countries and even lend some troops.
"The enemy needs to know that we're on the hunt and if you're a member of the coalition, we expect you to perform."
He said the next phase of the campaign may include covert acts that Americans don't notice.
Bush said the military still has not tracked Usama bin Laden, accused of organizing the terror attacks on the United States but said his patience has not waned. He will be found.
"I told the American people that this administration would be patient and would be relentless. And you're talking to a patient man when it comes to achieving the objectives," he said.
Translators Friday gave a more detailed translation of bin Laden's comments from a videotape that was found in an Afghan home in November of a conversation between the exiled Saudi millionaire and a Saudi religious cleric.
Bin Laden speaks of the terrorists that crashed into the World Trade Center, calling them by name and praising them to Allah.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.