- The Washington Times - Friday, June 19, 2009

President Obama’s White House shot 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 challenged Mr. Obama’s fiscal policies, saying he thinks the private sector is in a better position to lead the nation from the recession while speaking to business leaders in Pennsylvania.

“President Obama inherited an economic catastrophe,” said White House press secretary Robert Gibbs, adding that the president “believes the free market is what governs our economic principles.”

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

The press secretary said the president “looks forward to getting out of the business of being involved in banks or in auto companies.”

Presented with Mr. Bush’s harsh assessment in his Wednesday speech 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.

“Maybe that’s not what he’s referring to, since it appears to be contrary to the actions that he took,” Mr. Gibbs said.

“I think we’ve had a debate about individual policies. We had that debate in particular — we kept score last November and we won,” he said.

Mr. Gibbs said the current and former president have spoken, but he did not know how recently.

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