- The Washington Times - Thursday, June 18, 2009

President Obama’s White House swatted back at former President George W. Bush’s critique of the administration’s economic and national security policies with a reminder that Mr. Obama won the election and had to take over a fiscal mess.

Mr. Bush on Wednesday in Pennsylvania challenged Mr. Obama’s fiscal policies, saying he thinks the private sector is in a better position to lead the nation from the recession.

“President Obama inherited an economic catastrophe,” White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs said. “President Obama believes the free market is what governs our economic principles.”

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Mr. Gibbs said Mr. Obama became president facing “massive unemployment, a huge deficit, insolvent banks,” car companies “being handed billions of dollars” but still “coming back every few months to ask for more.”

The press secretary said the new Democratic president “looks forward” to getting out of the business of having to get involved in trouble economic sectors.

Presented with Mr. Bush’s harshest assessment in his Wednesday speech in Pennsylvania, that “Therapy isn’t going to cause terrorists to change their mind,” Mr. Gibbs said he did not understand the argument.

Mr. Gibbs said the previous administration moved or transferred “hundreds” of detainees from the prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba to Saudi Arabia.

“I’d be happy if he can clarify,” Mr. Gibbs said.

“We’ve had a debate about individual policies … we had that debate in particular [on Guantanamo]. We kept score last November,” he said, adding Mr. Obama won.

Mr. Gibbs said the current and former president have spoken but added, “I don’t know how recently.”