Jeb Bush: Entitlement System Will Collapse If We Don’t Act Now

Sunday, 31 Mar 2013 11:21 AM

By Jim Meyers and John Bachman

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Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush has written the cover story for the April edition of Newsmax magazine, offering an optimistic view of America’s future — and straight talk about its problems — with the resounding message: “Growth is the answer” to our nagging economic woes.

And the leading Republican sat down with Newsmax for a wide-ranging interview elaborating on a number of topics he discusses in his magazine feature, arguing that America can be great again if we open up the doors to economic opportunity.

Note: Get your copy of Jeb Bush’s Special Report “Growth Is the Answer” with our FREE Offer – Click Here Now

Bush, who served two terms as Florida’s governor, has earned a nationwide reputation for reform proposals in the fields of education and immigration. He is founder and chairman of the Foundation for Excellence in Education, author of the new book “The Immigration Wars: Forging an American Solution” — co-written with constitutional law expert Clint Bolick — and is considered a strong contender for the GOP presidential nomination in 2016.

Bush’s Newsmax magazine piece stresses the need for economic growth to deal with the nation’s debt and deficit problems.

In his exclusive interview with Newsmax TV, he was asked if growth alone will solve those problems.

Story continues below.



“If we grew at 2 percent more per year than what’s projected, which is anywhere from 1 to 1.5 percent per year in real terms, we would create a Germany in terms of incremental economic output in the 10th year,” he says. “And that Germany would be taxed at the current rate at least to the tune of about $1 trillion.

“There is no tax plan that could come close to [that].

“The president, almost every time he has a chance to speak, talks about the need for high growth, but his policies do the exact opposite. His policies have created the most tepid recovery in modern American history.

“The dual effect of high growth creating higher income that’s taxed by government at all levels, combined with lessening demands placed on government that occurs during economic prosperity, is a worthy objective.

“Right now we have this discussion of austerity versus government spending, when in fact what we ought to be doing is [determining] how we can invest in the private sector, creating investment opportunities and job creating opportunities that create the kind of growth that lessens government’s involvement in all this. That’s what’s missing and the president has a duty to outline specific proposals that will create economic growth. Up until now I don’t think he’s done it.”

Bush suggests that Republicans could be talking too much about the debt and deficit instead of growth.

“It’s a principled position to say that we have to live within our means, and over time you can do that and we should do that. But the fastest way to get to that is in combination with high growth. It’s also a winning political message to embrace the dynamic nature of our economy. It’s much better than just saying, ‘world coming to end. Memo to follow.’

“We should be much more hopeful and optimistic about the future of our country. If you just see the trends in the life science area and telecommunications and information technology, we’re living in the most wondrous time ever in human history, and globally the United States is a leader. We should be excited about the future and creating strategies to ensure that we create long-term, sustained economic growth.”

Reform should start with energy, immigration policy, regulations, the tax code, and education, Bush states.

“They’re the set of policy objectives that we should embrace, not all of which are ideological either. The sad thing is the dysfunction in Washington right now limits the ability even when there’s enough consensus to move forward.”

During the presidential campaign, Mitt Romney was criticized for not putting specifics on the table, particularly regarding entitlement cuts and taxes. But Bush believes lawmakers and candidates can get specific without getting bogged down in minutiae.

“First of all you have to inform. You can’t just assume that everybody has the facts,” he maintains.

“Most of the cuts we’re talking about are cuts in the growth of spending, not actual cuts, and there are people in Washington that have [offered] specific proposals, Paul Ryan being perhaps the most obvious one. He was Mitt Romney’s running mate and a courageous and inspired choice, and they did defend those so-called cuts for a while, then they kind of reverted back to trying to make the election about the president, exclusively a referendum on his job performance.

“. . . The lesson of 2012 is be bold, be specific, persuade, don’t follow polls, don’t be driven by what people’s feelings are here and now because those opinions can shift if you make a compelling case.”

But Bush does agree that the entitlement system is “unsustainable” and “no one argues that we can keep doing what we’re doing. So either we have it collapse or we change it to protect it.”

Among the changes he suggests are “raising the retirement age to reflect the life expectancy increase that’s been dramatic, means testing some of the entitlement programs over time. We have to reform healthcare underneath the entitlement system as well so that the cost curve is dealt with, which means we should move toward catastrophic coverage as the form of insurance and reward healthy lifestyle decisions and focus on prevention to lessen cost by improving healthcare outcomes.”

Bush favors eliminating tax loopholes and reducing taxes to the lowest possible rates

“If you eliminate as many of the deductions as possible, you would create a boom of economic activity. You would lessen compliance costs. Right now, whether it’s a small business guy or a private person, people pay an arm and a leg for just the simple compliance costs. Now, you have to pay a lot of money because our code’s way too complex. My personal belief is the simpler the code, the better it is.”

Asked if he would be willing to give up the mortgage interest deduction if tax rates are lowered, Bush responds: “I would. To me, the better way of doing this would be to say, all of the tax code expires” and must be rebuilt from the ground up.

“That would be a better approach because people could see the benefits of a simpler code and the empowering nature of that. People could keep more of their own money, make decisions for themselves, and not effectively get in line to get their version of some tax expenditure or tax credit. [We would] lower the rates significantly and create a burst of economic activity for our country.”

In his Newsmax magazine article, Bush never once mentions President Obama or the Democrats.

He tells Newsmax TV that other Republicans could be too focused on talking about what the opposition is doing instead of what they have to offer.

“We’ve gotten a little far removed from where we once were not that long ago, which is the party of reform, the party of new thinking, the party of ideas, the party that embraces the future.

“There’s a reason why in my recent speeches and the Newsmax article that I didn’t mention the president. The president’s record on economic policy is a failed one, but we’re not going to win the day unless we have a compelling alternative and that’s where the focus needs to be.

“In Washington, particularly, the loyal opposition has a job to be the opposition. But you can’t stop there. You have to oppose in a principled, civil way but you also have to offer alternatives.

“There are a lot of reasons why the election turned out the way it did. All I know for sure is that I wish Mitt Romney was president right now because he’d be a practical person trying to forge common-sense solutions to these big, dysfunctional challenges we face.”

On education, Bush writes in his magazine cover story about the need to increase the choices that are available to parents and students.

To do that, he tells Newsmax we need to “change laws. We have 50 states that are the governance model or the catalyst for how governance operates. We have 13,000 government-run monopolies, heavily unionized. And in that kind of setting, it should not be a surprise that the economic interests of the adults is really a dominant part of education life in America today.

“We have a third of our kids that don’t make it through the system, even though we spend more per student than any country in the world. And a lot of students could be doing college-level work by the time they’ve graduated from high school but in effect they’re held back because we’ve got this adult-centered homogenized learning model.

“What the Foundation for Excellence in Education is trying to do is to help policymakers in our 50 states open up their laws to allow more innovation to take place.

“We’re putting too much emphasis on the college experience. The country’s moving towards fewer standards that require critical thinking skills both for going to college as well as for being able to get a job in some technical skill or career-oriented avocation. So the skills necessary for both paths need to be higher.”

Bush in his magazine article cites the need to strengthen family values as a way to boost our economy.

“It’s really important to recognize that family life in America has changed pretty dramatically,” he tells Newsmax TV.

“For the first time in American history there are fewer married women than unmarried women in the age cohort that’s measured. We’ve had dramatic increases in out-of-wedlock birth rates. Every study that I’ve seen suggests that if a young woman doesn’t have a child before she’s married and she can defer marriage [until] she’s 25 and can graduate from high school, the chance of her living in poverty is dramatically reduced, and similarly with men.

“If we get that right then we can have a chance of creating economy prosperity over the long haul. If we don’t get it right, it really does change who we are as a nation and it creates enormous strains.“

Bush also says there is an “inverse relationship” between liberty and the size and scope of government, and agrees with Sen. Rand Paul that the Republican Party needs to embrace more libertarian ideas.

He also talks at length about the immigration policies espoused in his controversial new book.

And he ends his Newsmax interview on an optimistic note, stating that “I just have total confidence that a dynamic world will yield benefits that we can’t even imagine.

“If you believe like I do that the world is abundant with possibilities, then we need to make sure we build capacity so that everybody is successful or can be successful in the pursuit of their dreams — not the dreams of someone from government, but their own dreams.”

Note: Get your copy of Jeb Bush’s Special Report “Growth Is the Answer” with our FREE Offer – Click Here Now

Related: Jeb Bush Argues for New Immigration Policy









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