Jeb Bush: Dad Was Wrong About Voodoo Economics

Another division in the Bush family emerges.
Photograph: Portland Press Herald

Jeb Bush defended Reaganomics on Tuesday, saying his father was wrong to criticize lower tax rates on income and capital gains during the 1980 presidential campaign. 

"There’s another example of Jeb having a disagreement with a family member I love a lot," Bush said, referring to himself, in an interview on Fox News. "He was wrong about that."

Bush, a former Florida governor, also indicated that he'll probably enter the presidential race, telling Fox's Neil Cavuto that there was "not much" that could dissuade him from running at this point. Bush hasn't announced a formal campaign as he's spent the past six months helping raise funds in unlimited amounts for his super-PAC. Once Bush is a candidate, he'll be subject to limits of $2,700 on campaign contributions, and will be prohibited from coordinating with the super-PAC that is expected to collect more than $100 million by the time its first finance report is due in July.

While Bush's family connections have helped him raise that money, the family's political legacy has proven harder to handle for the former governor. Last month, it took him a week to settle on an answer about the Iraq war authorized in 2003 by his brother, then-President George W. Bush. (He eventually said he wouldn't have authorized the invasion if he had known the intelligence was faulty.) On Tuesday, Bush quickly agreed when Cavuto said his father, former President George H.W. Bush was "proven wrong" about supply side economics.

Cavuto used that context to asked Bush whether, as president, he'd back "regressive tax cuts" to spur growth even if those cuts increased the deficit. Bush answered by pointing to $1.2 billion in federal "tax expenditures," the exemptions, deductions and other credits found the tax code provides for certain groups or specific activities.

"We have thousands of these critters," Bush said. "If you shifted that down and let people decide how they want to invest, the simplicity of our code would unleash hundreds of billions of dollars of investment. You don’t have to have a supply side beginning to have a supply side result. You can grow the economy, and you’ll generate revenue for government that pales by comparison to the most exotic forms of taxes that the left can offer up."

Bush said he wouldn't hesitate to campaign with his brother. George W. Bush told donors in Las Vegas earlier this his year that that he would stay off the campaign trail to help avoid criticisms of political dynasty.

"I'll use my brother, my sister, every relative, every person I can," Bush told Cavuto. "A campaign that is winning is inclusive for sure, and I love my brother." 

Bush, 62, spoke to Cavuto in Orlando, where he was among a group of Republicans seeking their party's presidential nomination (officially or not) who addressed Florida Governor Rick Scott's "Economic Growth Summit." 

Bush joked about an unusually large field of Republicans who have expressed interested in running for president this year, saying he's counted about 75 candidates. "There's going to be some elbows and knees under the boards," Bush said. "This isn't Tiddlywinks we're playing."

Bush declined to say whether Florida's March 15 primary was a must-win for him or Senator Marco Rubio, a fellow Miami resident who announced his own presidential campaign in April.

"If I become a candidate, my intention is to campaign everywhere and win," Bush told Cavuto. 


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