Pelosi: Bush is 'the gift that keeps on giving'

Former President George W. Bush is "the gift that keeps on giving" to Democrats, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (Calif.) said Thursday.

Pelosi said Bush, the Republican president against whom many Democrats have run this fall despite his having left office in early 2009, had validated Democrats' concerns by saying he regretted not accomplishing Social Security reform during his time in office.

"He gave us a gift then, and he's the gift that keeps on giving," Pelosi said on MSNBC. "He's giving us a gift now, because he's proving a point, that's what he intended to do."

Bush had sought to push through legislation after he won reelection in 2004 that would have partially privatized Social Security by giving young workers the ability to invest some of their retirement savings. Backlash against that plan, combined with other political problems facing Bush, contributed to Democrats winning back the House and Senate in the 2006 midterm elections.

The former GOP president has been a frequent punching bag for Democrats and President Obama on the campaign trail. Democrats accuse Republican candidates of wanting to revive Bush-era policies, which by implication includes an effort to privatize or curtail Social Security. Pelosi's comments on Thursday underscore the extent to which Democrats have relied on the attacks for political traction.

Bush has been steadily re-emerging from a largely low-key post presidency. His book, "Decision Points," is set for release the Tuesday after Election Day. Bush has also made several public speeches, including an appearance earlier this year in Michigan, where he said that not having been able to reform Social Security was one of his biggest regrets. 

"I thank the president for validating the point that we made during the campaign," Pelosi said.