George W. Bush in A Charge To Keep

On Education: State funding for schools, with local control

The state, not local property taxes, should be the primary source of funds for the schools. Local property taxes are inherently unfair and unequal, because property values are different in different parts of the state. I also believed strongly in local control of schools. local parents and teachers and locally elected school boards were far more accountable than. centralized state education agency in Austin.
Source: “A Charge to Keep”, p. 24. Dec 9, 1999

On Crime: Limit frivolous lawsuits to create entrepreneurial heaven

Liberal court decisions had resulted in an unfair legal system, tilted in favor of personal injury trial lawyers, unfortunately making Texas a great place for people to sue one another. I wanted Texas to be a great place to do business, an entrepreneurial heaven, where dreamers and doers felt comfortable risking capital and creating jobs, not a haven for frivolous lawsuits.
Source: “A Charge to Keep”, p. 25. Dec 9, 1999

On Education: State should enforce standards, not micromanage schools

The need to align authority and responsibility is a fundamental management principle.. When you give local schools and teachers the responsibility for teaching, yet try to have a distant authority dictate how they do so, you have defied this management principle and created a convenient excuse for failure. There is a role for the state, but it is not to micromanage local districts. The state’s role is to set clear standards, hold local districts accountable for results, and measure progress.
Source: “A Charge to Keep”, p. 28 -29. Dec 9, 1999

On Education: Public school misalign authority and responsibility

When you give local schools and teachers the responsibility for teaching, yet try to have a distant authority dictate how they do so, you have defied this management principle and created a convenient excuse for failure. [Bush proposes] a new kind of school, tough-love academics, and boot camps and, as the last stop, more beds in our juvenile justice system.
Source: “A Charge to Keep”, p. 28-31 Dec 9, 1999

On Education: Zero toleration policy for discipline problems in schools

We will have zero tolerance for discipline problems in our classrooms. We must assure our teachers they are allowed to teach and guarantee their right to learn without disruption or fear of violence. But we can’t just throw discipline problems out on the streets, so that is why I want a new kind of school, tough-love academies, and boot camps and, as the last stop, more beds in our juvenile justice system.
Source: “A Charge to Keep”, p. 30-31. Dec 9, 1999

On Welfare & Poverty: Work and responsibility to replace welfare

Source: “A Charge to Keep”, p. 32 Dec 9, 1999

On Gun Control: Supports gun ownership for protection and hunting

I believe law-abiding citizens should be allowed to own guns to hunt and to protect themselves. and that our government should aggressively pursue. people who illegally sell guns, illegally carry guns, or commit crimes with guns. I also believe that government should pass laws such as instant background checks to help keep guns out of the hands of felons and juveniles and others who should not have them.
Source: “A Charge to Keep”, p. 35-36. Dec 9, 1999

On Principles & Values: Government if necessary, not necessarily government

[Citing his gubernatorial inauguration speech], “Texans can run Texas,” I told my fellow Texans. “I will ask the federal government to return to us the power to set our own course. My guiding principle,” I said, “will be government if necessary, not necessarily government.” I talked about the need to change our culture, and reform our schools and welfare and criminal justice laws. “I feel the wind at our backs,” I concluded.
Source: “A Charge to Keep”, p. 44 Dec 9, 1999

On Principles & Values: “A Charge to Keep,” hymn & painting, inspire Bush

I started the [gubernatorial inauguration] day with a church service. One of the hymns I selected is titled “A Charge to Keep I Have.” Written by Charles Wesley, the words say:
A charge to keep I have,
A God to glorify,
A never dying soul to save,
And fit it for the sky.
To serve the present age,
My calling to fulfill;
O may it all my powers engage
To do my Master’s will!
[Hanging in my office is] a beautiful oil painting by W.H.D. Koerner entitled A Charge to Keep. The painting, inspired by the hymn, [pictures] a horseman determinedly charging up what appears to be a steep & rough trail. This is us. [The painting and] hymn have been an inspiration for me & for members of my staff. “A Charge to Keep” calls us to our highest and best. It speaks of purpose and direction. In many hymnals, it is associated with a Bible verse, 1 Corinthians 4:2: “Now it is required that those who have been given a trust must prove faithful.”
Source: “A Charge to Keep”, p. 45 Dec 9, 1999

On Homeland Security: Supported Vietnam while a student in 1968, but not later

[At Yale in 1968], we discussed Vietnam, but we were more concerned with the decision each of us had to make: military service or not. I knew I would serve. Leaving the country to avoid the draft was not an option for me; I was too conservative and too traditional. My inclination was to support the government and the war until proven wrong, and that came only later, as I realized we could not explain the mission, had no exit strategy, and did not seem to be fighting to win.
Source: “A Charge to Keep”, p. 50 Dec 9, 1999

On Homeland Security: Lesson from Vietnam: no political wars

Our nation should be slow to engage troops. But when we do so, we must do so with ferocity. We must not go into a conflict unless we go in committed to win. We can never again ask the military to fight a political war. If America’s strategic interests are at stake, if diplomacy fails, if no other option will accomplish the objective, the Commander in Chief must define the mission and allow the military to achieve it.
Source: “A Charge to Keep”, p. 55. Dec 9, 1999

On Free Trade: A free market promotes dreams and individuality

[After visiting China], I’ll never forget the contrast between what I learned about the free market at Harvard and what I saw in the closed isolation of China. Every bicycle looked the same. People’s clothes were all the same. a free market frees individuals to make distinct choices and independent decisions. The market gives individuals the opportunity to demand and decide, and entrepreneurs the opportunity to provide.
Source: “A Charge to Keep”, p. 61. Dec 9, 1999

On Free Trade: Import fees are not the answer to foreign competition

In 1999, when a glut of foreign oil drove prices below $12 a barrel, many of my friends in the oil business wanted the government to rescue them through price supports. . . I understand the frustration of people. but I do not support import fees. . . I believe it makes sense to use the tax code to encourage activities that benefit America. But I do not want to put up fees or tariffs or roadblocks to trade.
Source: “A Charge to Keep”, p. 65-66. Dec 9, 1999

On Corporations: Stop hurting business with excessive punitive damage awards

Punitive damages have nothing to do with a victim’s actual damages. They are intended to punish a defendant for extraordinarily negligent or malicious behavior. But too often, that was not how they were being used; they were being used to terrorize small-business owners and force higher and higher out-of-court settlements. Punitive damages of tens of millions of dollars became all too common, even when the dispute involved actual damages that were much smaller.
Source: “A Charge to Keep”, p.117 Dec 9, 1999

On Tax Reform: $1B “capital-friendly” tax cut in Texas

My plan proposed eliminating the corporate franchise tax on Texas businesses. and replacing it with a flat tax on business activity, and raising the sales tax by one-half cent. The net effect was a net $1 billion overall tax cut. Property taxes would have been cut by $3 billion a year.. The tax was capital-friendly, with a flat, low rate, a generous small-business deduction, and a 100% deduction for capital investment.
Source: “A Charge to Keep”, p.126 Dec 9, 1999

On Crime: Supports death penalty as deterrent

I support the death penalty because I believe, if administered swiftly and justly, capital punishment is a deterrent against future violence and will save other innocent lives. Some advocates of life will challenge why I oppose abortion yet support the death penalty; to me, it’s the difference between innocence and guilt.
Source: “A Charge to Keep”, p.147 Dec 9, 1999

On Crime: Proud of eliminating parole for violent criminals

My appointees to the board of pardons and paroles reflect my no-nonsense approach to crime and punishment. They believe people who commit crimes against innocent Texans should pay the consequences; they believe sentences imposed by juries should be carried out. The Texas prison system had become a revolving door earlier in the 1990s, when the prison population had far exceeded the capacity of the system.. I am proud that Texas today has virtually eliminated parole for violent criminals.
Source: “A Charge to Keep”, p.151-152. Dec 9, 1999

On Corporations: Federal government should stay out of the marketplace

I was deeply concerned about the drift toward a more powerful federal government. I was particularly outraged by two pieces of legislation, the Natural Gas Policy Act and the Fuel Use Act. It seemed to me that elite central planners were determining the course of our nation. Allowing the government to dictate the price of natural gas was a move toward European-style socialism. If the federal government was going to take over the natural gas business, what would it set its sights on next?
Source: “A Charge to Keep”, p.172-173 Dec 9, 1999

On Health Care: Against mandates not related to patient care

Bush vetoed the Texas Patient Protection Act despite protests because the “bill had a host of mandates and regulations not directly related to patient care.”
Source: “A Charge to Keep”, p.189-195 Dec 9, 1999

On Health Care: Bush signed Texas’ version of Patient Bill of Rights

Thanks to the laws I signed, in Texas. HMOs are forbidden to enact “gag clauses” that discourage doctors from discussing treatment options, insurance must pay for hospital emergency care, women can go directly to their gynecologist. Patients with lengthy, ongoing illnesses cannot be required to change doctors, and if cancer patients need treatment that is not provided within their. network, their insurance must refer them to specialty hospitals and pay for that care.
Source: “A Charge to Keep”, p.195 Dec 9, 1999

On Education: Effective curriculum comes from clear standards

A straightforward list of academic expectations, that’s what I wanted. A clear list of what students should know, and when they should know it. That’s what a curriculum should be. I believe the role of the state is to set high education standards and hold local school districts accountable for results. The standards should reflect what we expect fourth-grader to know before they move to the fifth grade, what body of knowledge a student should have to earn a high school diploma in Texas.
Source: “A Charge to Keep”, p.201-210 Dec 9, 1999

On Crime: “Tough-love” in strictly disciplined juvenile boot camps

Previously, juvenile offenders spent large parts of their day loitering or sleeping.. when juveniles arrive at our [“boot camp”] intake facility today, they are issued bright orange uniforms and their heads are shaved. They get up early, exercise regularly, and help maintain the facility. They don’t speak unless they are spoken to. we teach them they are accountable for their actions. We created strict alternative schools for students who caused problems in regular classes.
Source: “A Charge to Keep”, p.212 Dec 9, 1999

On Principles & Values: Government should not block faith-based programs

It seemed to me that a government that truly wants to help people should welcome the active involvement of people of faith, not throw up roadblocks or stifle their efforts with bureaucratic red tape.. I assembled a task force to recommend ways that churches and synagogues and mosques and other faith-based or private institutions could work with government to help people in need without violating the important principle of separation of church and state, compromising the religious nature of their mission, or being shackled by government intrusion. I believe in the power of faith to change lives.
Source: “A Charge to Keep”, p.213-215 Dec 9, 1999

On Principles & Values: Texas re-election based on “compassionate conservatism”

[On the day of the gubernatorial re-election:] Tonight’s resounding victory says my compassionate conservative philosophy is making Texas a better place. But today’s election says something more. It says that a leader who is compassionate and conservative can erase the gender gap, open the Republican Party to new faces and new voices, and win without sacrificing our principles.
Source: “A Charge to Keep”, p.224 Dec 9, 1999

On Welfare & Poverty: Too much government fosters dependency

The new culture said if people were poor, the government should feed them. If criminals are not responsible for their acts, then the answers are not in prisons, but in social programs. People became less interested in pulling themselves up by their bootstraps and more interested in pulling down a monthly government check. A culture of dependency was born. Programs that began as a temporary hand-up became a permanent handout, regarded by many as a right.
Source: “A Charge to Keep”, p.229-230 Dec 9, 1999

On Welfare & Poverty: Religious charities deserve government support

Participation in faith-based programs must be voluntary, and we must make sure secular alternatives are available. But government should welcome the active involvement of people who are following a religious imperative to love their neighbors through after-school programs, child care, drug treatment, maternity group homes, and a range of other services. Supporting these men and women. is the next bold step of welfare reform.
Source: “A Charge to Keep”, p.232 Dec 9, 1999

On Education: Charters encourage innovative methods & provide choices

Charter schools encourage educational entrepreneurs to try innovative methods. They break up the monopoly of one-size-fits-all education. These diverse, creative schools are proof that parents from all walks of life are willing to challenge the status quo if it means a better education for their children. More competition and more choices for parents and students will raise the bar for everyone.
Source: “A Charge to Keep”, p.233 - 234 Dec 9, 1999

On Principles & Values: Bush’s conservatism: local solutions within limited govt

I am a conservative because I believe in the power of each individual. My philosophy trusts individuals to make the right decisions for their families and communities [instead of] from distant bureaucracies. I am a conservative because I believe government should be limited and efficient. I am a conservative because I believe in a strong national defense [and] I support free markets and free trade. I am a conservative because I believe government closest to the people governs best.
Source: “A Charge to Keep”, p.235 Dec 9, 1999

On Tax Reform: Read my lips: I will cut taxes

America will be prosperous if we cut taxes. Reducing marginal tax rates will increase economic growth. By returning money to the taxpayers, we can also limit government.. Returning money to their pockets will allow them to strengthen their family finances. I support reducing the marriage penalty because the tax code should not conflict with our core values. I support reducing the death tax to make it easier to pass a family farm or small business on to the next generation.
Source: “A Charge to Keep”, p.237 - 238 Dec 9, 1999

On Education: Replace “English Only” with “English Plus” Spanish

I believe people who live and work in America must learn to speak English. English is our common language and reflects our common bond. I want all of America’s children to learn to read and write in English, plus I want my own daughters to learn Spanish. Plus, I make an effort to speak Spanish myself. Plus, I recognize that the Hispanic heritage and culture are important to my state and our country. “English-only” says me, not you. It says I count, but you do not. That is not the message of America.“
Source: “A Charge to Keep”, p.237. Dec 9, 1999

On Immigration: More border guards to compassionately turn away Mexicans

We must do a better job of stopping those who seek to come into our country illegally. I support strict border enforcement programs such as Operation Hold the Line, which concentrate border patrol officers and resources at known border-crossing points. I believe it is far more compassionate to turn away people at the border than to attempt to find and arrest them once they are living in our country illegally.
Source: “A Charge to Keep”, p.237. Dec 9, 1999

On Health Care: Strengthen Medicare through choice and other options

Medicare should be strengthened by providing more choice and more private sector alternatives for the elderly, including plans that offer coverage for prescription drugs. I support medical savings accounts and patient protections in federal health care plans similar to the ones I signed in Texas. I would not, however, support allowing the federal government to supersede the health reforms already enacted by states such as mine.
Source: “A Charge to Keep”, p.238 Dec 9, 1999

On Social Security: Give Americans more freedom to manage their social security

Social Security is a solemn commitment, and we must preserve its guarantee.. Social Security money should only go to Social Security, not to other programs, and Social Security taxes should not be increased. I oppose government investment of Social Security funds in private stocks or bonds and believe we should trust individual Americans by giving them the option of placing part of their Social Security contributions into personal retirement accounts.
Source: “A Charge to Keep”, p.238-239 Dec 9, 1999

On Foreign Policy: America should speak loudly and carry a big stick

Peace is not ordained, it is earned. Building a durable peace requires strong alliances, expanding trade and confident diplomacy. It requires tough realism in our dealings with China and Russia. It requires firmness with regimes like North Korea and Iraq, regimes that hate our values and resent our success. And the foundation of our peace is a strong, capable, and modern American military.
Source: “A Charge to Keep”, p.239 Dec 9, 1999

On Homeland Security: Increase spending on military pay plus R&D

I support increased pay and better benefits and training for our citizen soldiers. Rebuilding America’s homeland defenses is an urgent priority. I support deploying antiballistic missile systems to guard against attack and blackmail. And America should modernize its military capability. by investing in research and development to make our military more suited to the needs of the twenty-first century.
Source: “A Charge to Keep”, p.239-240 Dec 9, 1999

On Foreign Policy: America should act as the leader of the free world

The world seeks America’s leadership, looks for leadership from a country whose values are freedom and justice and equality. Ours should not be the paternalistic leadership of an arrogant big brother, but the inviting and welcoming leadership of a great & noble nation. We have a collective responsibility as citizens of the greatest & freest nation in the world. America must not retreat within its borders. Or greatest export is freedom, and we have a moral obligation to champion it throughout the world.
Source: “A Charge to Keep”, p.240 Dec 9, 1999

The above quotations are from A Charge To Keep: My Journey to the White House, by George W. Bush.
Click here for other excerpts from A Charge To Keep: My Journey to the White House, by George W. Bush.
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Page last updated: Apr 16, 2013