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Jeb Bush On Dysfunctional Politics

June 12, 2012

Yesterday, former Republican governor of Florida, Jeb Bush made some very refreshing comments. He abandoned the usual “our side is always right and their side is always wrong” meme and spoke his mind. He also called the current partisan climate “disturbing”. Amen.

“Back to my dad’s time and Ronald Reagan’s time – they got a lot of stuff done with a lot of bipartisan suport,” he said. Reagan “would be criticized for doing the things that he did.”

Bush cited, in particular, “the budget deal my dad did, with bipartisan support — at least for a while — that created the spending restraint of the ‘90s,” a reference to a move widely viewed now as a political disaster for Bush, breaking a pledge against tax increases and infuriating conservatives. It was, Bush said, “helpful in creating a climate of more sustainted economic growth.”

In Ronald Reagan’s first year as governor of California he cut spending and raised taxes in order to balance the budget. George Bush also acknowledged that sometimes tax hikes are necessary. Unfortunately, in today’s GOP you have to sign the Norquist Pledge if you want any chance of getting elected.

Currently, 236 of 242 Republican Congressmen and 40 of 47 Republican Senators have signed this pledge. It makes bipartisanship a little difficult when the overwhelming majority of Republicans have already sworn not to raise taxes or eliminate deductions.

Bush also had praise for Rep. Paul Ryan for proposing a budget and disdain for Democrats for refusing to engage it.

“It’s all about talking points rather than engagement,” he said of Congressional hearings on the Ryan budget, during one of which, he said, he was grilled by Florida Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, the DNC Chairwoman.

As conservatives have been correctly pointing out, the Democrats are also guilty of putting politics ahead of problem solving. Not a single Democrat in congress voted for Obama’s latest budget proposal and they have yet to make honest attempts at entitlement reform.

Of course the suggestion that the GOP has become too extreme for men of compromise – like Ronald Reagan and George Bush – has made Power Line very unhappy. Release the attack dogs…

There’s a certain amount of ingratitude here.   Reagan made the Bushes on the presidential level.  But for Reagan, neither George Bush would likely have made it to the Oval Office.  That’s probably a source of resentment for a justly prideful family.  And it underscores how the selection of George H.W. Bush as the running mate in 1980 was arguably Reagan’s biggest political mistake.

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From → Politics

4 Comments
  1. Lawman153 permalink

    It is ironic to hear a Bush lecture Conservatives on compromise, and I think he is re-writing history with regard to Reagan.

    First and foremost, the Bush family has been largely “anti-Reagan” for decades. It George Bush senior who accused Reagan of “Voodoo economics” in the 1980 campaign, and characterized Reagan as a conservative nut, at least up until the point of being nominated VP. When Bush was elected in 88, it was with the hope that he would continue the politics and policies of Reagan. He didn’t, and he lost. Interestingly enough, one big nail in the 88 Bush coffin was “compromise” on his “no new taxes” pledge, a fact Jeb acknowledges in his statement with regard to the “budget deal.” Frankly, Bush was used by the left, and they used his attempts at “compromise” against him to aid in his defeat.

    The recent recharacterization of Reagan as a “compromiser” is quite absurd, and anytime the media is carrying positive messages about Reagan, you can be sure it is probably not accurate. Reagan was one of the most uncompromising Presidents in history when it came to his core values and beliefs. If you recall, his notion of compromise with the Soviets was “we win, they lose.” The Jeb Bush RINO’s at the time were certain that Reagan’s “un-compromising” attitude would lead to war. They were wrong, and Reagan set in motion the defeat of the Soviet Union. Reagan ran as an unabashed conservative, much like the “tea party” today, and won in two landslides. In many ways, Reagan was the original “tea party conservative.” What happened to mushy compromisers like Bush 1, Dole and McCain? Defeat. Quite frankly, I think Jeb is off his rocker, and has no idea what the hell he is talking about.

    The most annoying thing about Jeb’s statement is that it provides cover for liberals to claim to be “for compromise” when nothing could be further from the truth. You rightly mention entitlement reform as one area where Democrats fail to compromise, but that is only one item in a large list. Did liberals “compromise” on ACA? No. Will they compromise on abortion, government spending, “climate change,” debt reduction, immigration, unions, the war on terror, gun control, the size of government, border protection, wealth redistribution or anything else? Absolutely not. If there is one thing that I admire about the left, it is they are completely and totally uncompromising in their will to “win” politically and advance their agenda, no matter how completely wrong they are. Mushy compromisers like McCain, Graham, Jeb Bush and others could learn a lot from liberals in that regard.

  2. Michael permalink

    Ronald Reagan compromised with democrats and raised taxes several times. His tax cut in 1981 led to significant deficits, so he raised taxes in 1982, 1983 and 1984. Unfortunately, these increases weren’t enough to balance the budget so the deficit climbed throughout his presidency. The GOP cut taxes in 2001 and 2003 – to the lowest level in more than 60 years. We’ve had deficits ever since but I don’t hear a single person in the GOP admitting we need some tax hikes. In fact, they claim the cure to our economic woes are more tax cuts!!! Reagan and GHW Bush both saw the need for compromise and raised taxes. I agree that Bush lost in 1992 because of those tax hikes and that’s why today’s GOP refuses to compromise on that issue. They’ve put winning an election above the fiscal health of the US. You call it a strength, I call it stubborn and foolish. BTW, it wasn’t until after the tax hikes of GHW Bush and Bill Clinton that we finally saw budget surpluses in the late 90’s.

    And I disagree strongly that the democrats haven’t compromised. If fact, they have on almost every issue you raise!

    ACA – No public option. Individual mandate was a conservative idea.
    Spending – Bill Clinton’s spending increases were less than any modern president.
    Climate Change – The dems have done very little. No cap and trade, no carbon tax, etc.
    Debt reduction – The last time we had a surplus was Clinton’s administration.
    Unions – The GOP has gotten their way, union membership is the lowest since WWII.
    Wealth Redistribution – The rich are the richest they’ve been since the Depression.

    The fact you refer to people like McCain, Graham and Jeb Bush as “mushy compromisers” also supports the idea that the GOP has gotten more extreme in recent years.

  3. Lawman153 permalink

    I love that people claim that Reagan raised taxes. The top rate went from 70% to 28% during his Presidency. So whatever “increase” may have happened during that time was miniscule compared to the overall decrease. Additionally, many of the “increases” were eliminated deductions, not increases in overall rates.

    The problem we will always have is one side blames deficits on low taxes, the other blames deficits on too much spending. Smart people can legitimately argue the point, but I believe people should be able to keep what they earn, and government should be small. Small government needs less revenue.

    The left always wants to spend more and more and more money. Conservatives can define a minimum size of government they would find acceptable, but liberals are incapable of ever defining what amount of spending or taxation would ever be enough. The left has created an environment in which the government expands every year to the point that a decrease in the rate of growth is decried as a “cut,” which is beyond foolish. If you ask me, advocating automatic increases in government spending year after year, regardless of actual need, is putting politics before the fiscal health of the nation.

    I know you are much too intelligent to actually argue that the ACA was in anyway reached through compromise. Remember Democrats meeting behind locked doors? Remember how campaign promises to have televised debates, and have bills available for public comment for five days evaporated? Remember how C-SPAN was barred from meetings? Remember “we have to pass the bill to find out what’s in it?” Not only did Democrats refuse to “compromise” with Republicans, they refused to compromise with the American people. The word for that isn’t compromise, it is totalitarianism. Fortunately, in 2010 the American people showed the Democrats what they think of their brand of “compromise.”

    Bill Clinton’s spending was largely the effect of a Republican Congress, as was the surplus. You have conceded before that other factors primarily led to the surplus (tech boom, entitlement reform, etc.) rather than tax increases.

    People realize that much of the global warming hysteria is biased at best, and fraud at worst. The Democrats had their chance with a liberal Congress and Obama. They knew damn well it wouldn’t fly with the American people and certainly would have a negative effect on the recovery. There is no doubt in my mind that Reid and Pelosi would have brought it to the floor if they thought they had the votes, they didn’t. I would argue that the fact that cap and trade was never brought up for a vote is proof that the left is unwilling to compromise. They would rather have no bill, than anything other than their own bill.

    Private sector unions are going away because liberal fiscal, regulatory and environmental policies are driving their jobs overseas. That being said, other than Wisconsin, the public sector unions are doing fine. Too bad we can’t export their jobs overseas.

    Despite liberal’s best efforts, there will always be rich people and poor people. The fact that people are still able to be rich in this country is a feature, not a bug.

    I know it is a matter of perspective, but I would consider attempting to “spread the wealth around,” and intentionally making energy prices “skyrocket” to force your energy policy on an unwilling populace to be much more extreme than advocating limited government and defending the Constitution.

    • Michael permalink

      “The problem we will always have is one side blames deficits on low taxes, the other blames deficits on too much spending.”

      And moderates like me realize that both are true.

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