January 12, 2009

U.S. President George Bush said Monday President-elect Barack Obama hasn’t asked him to seek the second half of the funds designated for economic recovery.

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“I don’t intend to make the request” for $350 billion of the $700 billion package approved to help unfreeze credit markets unless Obama asks, Bush said in a wide-ranging, candid and final news conference of his presidency.

Bush said he and Obama, who takes over Jan. 20, have discussed the matter. “I told him that if he felt that he needed the $350 billion, I would be willing to ask for it — in other words, if he felt like it needed to happen on my watch,” Bush said.

Reflecting on the recession that is ending his tenure, Bush said, “I inherited a recession and I am leaving on a recession.”

“I readily concede I chucked aside my free-market principles when I was told … the situation we were facing could be worse than the Great Depression,” Bush said. “(But) we’ve taken extraordinary measures to deal with frozen credit markets (that) have helped thaw the credit market.”

He said he was pleased the financial markets have begun to move because of the $350 billion already spent and that he would be supportive of Obama’s administration working out a plan “that best suits him.”

His administration moved aggressively by taking actions “all aiming to prevent the financial system from cratering.”

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