US President George W. Bush said in an interview Tuesday he was forced to sacrifice free market principles to save the economy from "collapse."
"I've abandoned free-market principles to save the free-market system," Bush told CNN television, saying he had made the decision "to make sure the economy doesn't collapse."
Bush's comments reflect an extraordinary departure from his longtime advocacy for an unfettered free market, as his administration has orchestrated unprecedented government intervention in the face of a dire financial crisis.
"I am sorry we're having to do it," Bush said.
But Bush said government action was necessary to ease the effects of the crisis, offering perhaps his most dire assessment yet of the country's economy.
"I feel a sense of obligation to my successor to make sure there is not a, you know, a huge economic crisis. Look, we're in a crisis now. I mean, this is -- we're in a huge recession, but I don't want to make it even worse."
At a G20 summit last month in Washington, Bush resisted some proposals for global financial regulation and argued free market principles still held true despite the global economic downturn.
And administration officials have also referred to the primacy of the free market when discussing a possible government bailout for the troubled US auto industry.
In the interview, Bush said that a "disorganized bankruptcy" of the carmakers could create "enormous" economic difficulties.
But the US president has yet to announce how his administration will proceed amid calls from Detroit automakers and Democrats for a bailout drawing on funds set aside for financial firms.
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