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Jeb Bush Says He Would Back Tax Increases to Cut Deficit

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June 1 (Bloomberg) -- Former Florida Governor Jeb Bush, in a break with his party, said he could support tax increases to help reduce the federal government’s budget deficit.

The brother of former President George W. Bush told a congressional panel in Washington today that he could back a theoretical deficit-reduction package that would include $1 in tax increases for every $10 in spending cuts.

“If you could bring to me a majority of people to say that we’re going to have $10 in spending cuts for $1 of revenue enhancement -- put me in, coach,” Bush told the House Budget Committee. “This will prove I’m not running for anything,” he said, prompting laughter from lawmakers and the audience.

“I appreciate your candor,” said Representative Lloyd Doggett, a Texas Democrat who had pressed Bush on the issue. Bush later told reporters, “I don’t think you shut down every option in order to find common ground.”

Committee Chairman Paul Ryan, a Wisconsin Republican, declined to comment on Bush’s remarks.

The 10-to-1 proposal was rejected by all of the Republican presidential candidates including the presumed nominee, former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney, in a debate last August on Fox News. Democrats say that shows Republicans are being unreasonable in the battle over how to reduce the deficit.

Lawmakers in Congress have fought over the deficit for more than a year in part because most Republicans have ruled out tax increases.

Grover Norquist

Bush said today that as governor he was repeatedly presented with, and rejected signing, an anti-tax pledge sponsored by Grover Norquist that most Republicans in Congress have taken.

Bush said that while he cut taxes every year he was governor, “I don’t believe you outsource your principles and convictions to people.” He said, “I respect Grover’s political involvement, he has every right to do it, but I never signed any pledge.”

The former Florida governor has previously said he wants to put to rest any talk of him becoming Romney’s running mate, and today he said he wouldn’t consider an invitation to join the Republican presidential ticket.

“Not in the cards for me -- nope -- I don’t know how many times I have to repeat this,” Bush told reporters.

To contact the reporter on this story: Brian Faler in Washington at +1- bfaler@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Jodi Schneider at jschneider50@bloomberg.net

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