Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush Tuesday described the growing economic chasm between rich and poor as "un-American" and called it the biggest "structural" problem facing the nation on Tuesday.
"Going forward, we have to deal with our longer structural problems. The biggest one, as far as I'm concerned, is that we're no longer socially mobile as a country," Bush said on MSNBC's "Morning Joe" program.
"You have people that are born poor and there's a higher and higher probability that they're going to stay poor. And you have people that are born rich and there's a greater probability that they'll stay rich.
"It's just so un-American," he added. "And yet none of the conversation and the debates are really about this. But upward mobility is the chance to solve a lot of problems. . ."
Bush, often mentioned as a possible Republican presidential candidate in 2016, said he worries that too many Americans "feel like life isn't fair to them, that they can't succeed."
Adding to the problem, he said, is the fact that the nation's education system no longer provides the tools to ensure that "every child has a chance to learn."
"If people don't have the skills to succeed, no matter how much they dream, if they don't have the skills to make those dreams come true it's not going to work," he said.
He added later that education reform must be made a top priority because there are still too many "pockets in this country of just illiteracy because we haven't had the same standards for them."
Bush, who was making the rounds at MSNBC promoting his new book, "Immigration Wars," was also asked about his apparent reversal on giving illegal immigrants a pathway to citizenship. He said again that while he supports a way to "legalization" short of citizenship, he would not be opposed to granting citizenship if it can be done without bypassing the long lines of those who are still trying to enter the U.S. legally.
"If you can craft that in law where you can have a path to citizenship where there isn’t an incentive for people to come illegally, I'm for it," he said. But he added, “I don’t see how you do it, but I’m not smart enough to figure out every aspect of a really complex law.”
Bush also said he thinks his fellow Republican, Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, deserves a lot of credit for the work he's doing on immigration.
Bush, the son and brother of former presidents, was also questioned about his view of Mitt Romney, who on Sunday expressed regret in a Fox News interview over his loss to President Barack Obama in the 2012 election.
"I wish Mitt Romney was president right now because I think we’d have someone who would be in the midst of trying to forge consensus," Bush said, describing him as a "good man" whose campaign, unfortunately, "wasn't the best."
"It just breaks my heart that he's not there. . . But he would have been a really fine president," he added.
Bush also offered high praise for another Republican often mentioned as well as a possible contender for the 2016 Republican presidential nomination.
"I love Chris Christie," Bush said, smiling broadly when he was asked what he thought about the recent snubbing of the New Jersey governor by the Conservative Political Action Conference.
"I love the guy," he added, suggesting that conservatives in the Republican Party may end up needing Christie more than he needs them.
"I think he's been an incredible leader and a role model for a lot of people about how to lead and how to govern," he said.
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