Former President George W. Bush said Wednesday he has a "clear conscience" about recognizing the problems that led to the financial crisis and he blamed Congress for blocking attempts to address them.
Bush, who initially kept a low-profile after leaving the White House, has been doing a series of high-profile interviews to promote his newly released memoir, "Decision Points."
In a live interview with Matt Lauer on NBC's "Today" show, Bush said his administration did recognize a looming problem with Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac and that the mortgage giants "were making risky investments."
"And therefore I called for the regulation of those two entities but was thwarted at every turn by powerful forces in Capitol Hill," Bush said.
"No question the housing bubble was fueled by government policy and that is the result of people in Congress refusing to regulate Fannie and Freddie. So my conscience is clear when it came time to recognize an impending problem."
Bush in 2008 signed into law a sweeping rescue package in part aimed at stabilizing the two large mortgage finance companies and increasing oversight of them. His administration for years had advocated a smaller role for the firms, saying their management of trillions in assets placed too much risk on the U.S. financial system.
Bush joked that the tax cuts now being tackled on Capitol Hill would probably have a better chance of passing if they were not referred to by his name.
"It's too bad they call them the Bush tax cuts. They might have a better chance of being extended if they were the Lauer tax cuts," he said, using the interviewer's last name.
The former president said he does not plan to make a habit of staying in the limelight.
"After selling this book I'm heading back underground," Bush said.
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