JEB BUSH: A Small Business Snapshot on the Issues
By SBE Council at 20 July, 2015, 2:28 pm
Jeb Bush, former Republican governor of Florida (1999 to 2007), announced his candidacy for president on June 15, 2015. Where does Governor Bush stand on key small business issues?
UPDATED January 13, 2016
In his announcement speech, Bush declared, “We made Florida number one in job creation and number one in small business creation.” On his official campaign website, he refers to the current economy as the “zombie economy.” Bush notes the poor labor participation rate, the 6 million part-timers who want to work full-time, and other economic indicators to demonstrate that Americans are falling behind. Bush’s campaign website also reports on his track record during 8 years as Florida’s governor: 81,000 new small businesses, 13,000 fewer bureaucrats, #1 in nation for job creation, $19 billion in tax cuts, and 8 balanced budgets among other achievements.
Here’s a quick rundown on key issues:
HEALTH CARE REFORM
ObamaCare: Governor Bush’s opposition to ObamaCare has been clear, and he favors reforms that allow for more consumer control. On his campaign website, he declared that the Supreme Court decision on King vs. Burwell “is not the end of the fight against ObamaCare.”
According to a March 9, 2015, Politico.com report, “Bush called Obamacare a ‘monstrosity of consolidating power in Washington, D.C.,’ saying the law suppresses wages and adds uncertainty to investment. The former Florida governor labeled it the greatest job suppressor in the ‘so-called recovery.’” The report also noted that Bush “said he’d rather see a health system that is ‘consumer-directed’ and gives the patient a relationship with his or her health provider. ‘We restore [a patient-doctor relationship in the health system] by repealing — if possible at some point, I think that’s post presidency of Barack Obama — the Affordable Care Act, Obamacare,’ Bush said Friday at a fundraiser for Iowa Rep. David Young. ‘And replacing it with a model that is consumer directed, where consumers, where patients, have more choices, where they have more of a direct relationship; where the subsidies, if there were to be subsidies, are state administered; and if there are to be exchanges, they aren’t coercive exchanges; where there’s no employer mandate, employee mandate or requirements of services provided that are extraordinary; where people have more customized types of insurance based on their needs; and it’s more consumer-directed so that they’re more engaged in the decision-making, and they have more choices than what they have today.’”
Reforms: Bush also favors some kind of government catastrophic coverage program. Politico noted: “‘The effort by the state, by the government, ought to be to try to create catastrophic coverage, where there is relief for families in our country, where if you have a hardship that goes way beyond your means of paying for it, the government is there or an entity is there to help you deal with that,’ Bush said in Iowa last weekend. ‘The rest of it ought to be shifted back where individuals are empowered to make more decisions themselves.’” He also believes that there needs to be a conservative solution that works for patients with pre-existing conditions.
UPDATE: On October 15, Bush unveiled his health care reform plan to repeal and replace Obamacare. The plan repeals the employer mandate, the mandated benefit scheme and the individual mandate. Autonomy would be returned to the states, including the health exchanges (they could keep them or drop them). The plan provides tax credits to individuals (based on income) and doubles the contribution limits made to health savings accounts. There is medical liability reform. For small businesses the plan will “Enable small businesses to make tax-free contributions to their workers’ individual, portable health plans.” The plan retains the following Obamacare features: allows children to stay on policies up to 26 years of age, and guarantees coverage for people with pre-existing conditions. His plan caps the value of the deduction for “Cadillac type” plans, but not at Obamacare’s threshold. There is no provision for creating a national marketplace for coverage – that is, allowing for the purchase of coverage across state lines.
A sampling of SBE Council’s positions and views on Health Care Reform:
TAXES, TAX REFORM & SPENDING
Tax Relief: As governor of Florida, Bush had a solid record on tax relief. Throughout his time as governor, Florida continued to rank among the top 5 friendliest states toward entrepreneurship and small business on policy issues according to SBE Council’s “Small Business Policy Index.”
As noted in the Cato Institute’s Fiscal Policy Report Card on America’s Governors: 2006, “Jeb Bush leaves office with a well-deserved reputation as one of the most aggressive tax-cutting governors in the nation. He has proposed and signed into law a tax cut virtually every year of his tenure, ranging from cuts in property taxes to a phaseout of the intangibles tax—a levy on certain financial assets like stocks and bonds that makes Florida’s tax code hostile to capital formation. It is the strength of his tax cutting that has sustained his grade through the past eight years; he received an A on this report card for his first term.”
In his announcement speech, Bush declared his intention to implement tax reform: “Leaders have to think big, and we’ve got a tax code filled with small-time thinking and self-interested politics. What swarms of lobbyists have done, we can undo with a vastly simpler system – clearing out special favors for the few reducing rates for all.” Bush has not signed the tax pledge from Americans for Tax Reform.
UPDATE: On September 8, Bush released a tax reform plan. He said he would submit what he is calling the “Reform and Growth Act of 2017” to Congress as soon as he assumes office. The plan lowers marginal rates and has three tax brackets: 10%, 25% and 28%. The standard deduction would be generously increased. He would eliminate the personal AMT and the personal exemption phase-outs. Estate taxes are eliminated. Bush proposes to eliminate the state and local tax deduction, and cap the tax value of deductions at 2% of AGI for the mortgage interest rate deduction. Corporate taxes would be lowered to 20% and the corporate AMT eliminated. There would be full expensing for new investments, but interest paid would not be deductible. The top capital gains and dividends tax would be 20%. The plan maintains the R&D tax credit (which was strengthened for small business and made permanent with the signing of the omnibus package at year-end 2015.)
(The Tax Foundation has developed a tax plan comparison tool, which details the 2016 presidential tax reform proposals. The tool can be viewed here. For candidates that have detailed comprehensive proposals (like Bush), the Tax Foundation has also calculated the economic impact of the proposals, which can be viewed here.)
Spending: Bush points out that he vetoed 2,500 spending items as Governor. According to Cato, Bush faltered on the spending side of the budget equation in his second term, which ultimately caused his grade to drop to a “C” in 2006.
In his “Mount Washington” speech on July 20, Bush said: “I think we’ve learned by now that you can have a fast-expanding economy, or you can have a fast-expanding government, but you cannot have both. You have to choose, as I did when I was governor of the fourth-largest state.”
Bush outlined these specific reforms in his speech:
Balanced Budget Amendment: “To be clear, a properly-designed amendment must be a tool to limit government – not raise taxes.”
A Constitutionally Sound Line-Item Veto, to eliminate wasteful spending.
“Real-World Budgeting,” not baseline budgeting.
Freeze on federal hiring and reduce the federal bureaucracy 10 percent within four years.
A sampling of SBE Council’s positions and views on Taxes and Tax Reform:
REGULATION & REGULATORY REFORM
Government Overreach: In his announcement speech, Bush recognized the need to rein in federal overreach on regulation. He said, “What the IRS, EPA, and entire bureaucracy have done with overregulation, we can undo by act of Congress and order of the president. Federal regulation has gone far past the consent of the governed. It is time to start making rules for the rule-makers.”
On minimum wage, as noted, for example, from a report from The Hill, Bush argued that the federal government should not be imposing a minimum wage, instead leaving it to the states. According to the article, ““We need to leave it to the private sector,” he said when asked whether raising the minimum wage is a good idea… ‘I think state minimum wages are fine; the federal government shouldn’t be doing this.” … Bush argued the calls for raising the minimum wage are driven by positive poll numbers, but that doing so only looks good on the surface. He added that workers in lower-paying jobs could benefit in the short term from a raise in pay, but that businesses would eventually change practices to cut costs and ultimately fire those employees.”
According to a survey by American Commitment on whether the candidates support the “Regulations from the Executive in Need of Scrutiny Act” (REINS Act), Bush supports the legislation. (Endorsed by SBE Council, the REINS Act would make Congress vote up-or-down on every major rulemaking finalized by a federal government agency. The House passed the REINS Act on July 28.)
UPDATE: On September 22, Bush proposed a regulatory reform plan, of which key measures include: a regulatory freeze until his appointed agency head is put into place, a directive to withdraw “midnight regulations” that are in the pipeline, and establish a presidential level task force to drive his reform agenda. He would advance an Executive Order requiring agencies to adhere to a set principles including only regulating when the market is broken, cost-benefit analyses, transparency, sound and objective science, selecting the least costly regulatory alternative, state-based solutions rather than a one-size federal approach, and strictly adhering to the plain, ordinary meaning of constitutional and statutory limitations. The plan also includes establishing a “regulatory budget,” cleaning out old regulations, a retrospective review of new regulations, and making his nominees promise to “do no harm” on their regulatory initiatives. Bush’s plan would make regulators accountable to everyone rather than special interests, end “sue-and-settle,” allow robust congressional oversight consistent with the REINS Act, and work with the states on liscensing reform. His proposals also includes streamlining the permitting process at the federal level and reforming endless environmental litigation that is being used as a tactic for delay.
A sampling of SBE Council’s positions and views on Regulatory Reform:
Bush appears to be strong on U.S./North American production, and reluctant to impose heavy regulations. In a Denver Post report on a Bush speech in April on energy issues, it was noted: “Bush focused on the energy sector, which he called ‘the quickest jump-start for our sustained economic growth.’ Asked about the Keystone XL pipeline, Bush said he supports the project, adding that he sees it as part of North America energy security and good relations with Canada. ‘We’ve managed to destroy relations with Canada,’ Bush said. Bush called the development of horizontal drilling and fracking, which opened new oil and gas reserves, ‘a uniquely American experience based on American ingenuity, American technology, American private property rights.’” It also was pointed out: “Whatever one’s position on climate change, ‘hollowing out’ the country’s industrial sector to cut carbon emissions isn’t the answer, Bush said.”
UPDATE: On September 29, Bush released an energy plan that includes: lifting export restrictions on crude oil and natural gas, and approving the Keystone XL pipeline. In terms of regulations that are harming or threaten the energy industry, Bush addressed overregulation as a big negative for growth and the economy that can be addressed through his regulatory reform agenda unveiled on September 22. He has proposed repealing tax incentives for all energy sources, as would repeal the renewable fuel standard.
A sampling of SBE Council’s positions and views on Energy Policy:
Bush has made clear that he favors reducing barriers to international trade. The following was noted in a Washington Times report: “While critical of President Obama’s Russia policy, Mr. Bush told reporters in Berlin in a question-and-answer period that he supports giving the president the negotiating authority to swing major trade deals with Asia and the European Union.”
Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP): Bush is for TPP.
A sampling of SBE Council’s positions and views on Trade:
Bush has long been a pro-immigration Republican. His position was summed up in a report from PBS.org: “In May on CBS’ Face the Nation, Bush laid out his position on immigration: establish a provisional, legal status for those in the country illegally but do not offer them a path to citizenship. Two years earlier, in 2013, Bush supported the path to citizenship contained in the Senate-passed immigration bill. Bush, whose wife is a naturalized immigrant, told the Club for Growth in February that to gain legal status, undocumented immigrants should pay fines, file taxes and learn English. In addition, the former governor has said he wants to decrease the number of people allowed to immigrate to the U.S. because of family relationships and increase the number based on their skills.”
A sampling of SBE Council’s positions and views on Immigration and Reform:
Sources: Jeb2016.com, Politico.com, The Washington Post, The Washington Times, PBS.org, Announcement speech on Politico.com, The Washington Times on trade, Denver Post, Cato Fiscal Policy Report Card on America’s Governors: 2006, Mount Washington speech (July 20).
SBE Council will update this profile as warranted.