Path 2

Monday, Jun 15 2015

MEMO: Jeb Bush Enters Phase Two

Jun 15, 2015

TO: Interested Parties
FROM: Jessica Mackler, President, American Bridge 21st Century
RE: Jeb Bush Enters Phase Two
DATE: June 15, 2015

Jeb Bush is launching Phase Two of his campaign today and is hoping to overcome what has been an underwhelming start. He’s still the same out-of-touch Republican who’s carrying over his brother’s policies and misrepresenting his record to squeeze it into something that passes for a 2016 winning message. Unfortunately for Jeb, he’s facing the same problems among conservatives in the GOP primary and independents in the general election – nobody thinks he should be president.

Maybe Jeb Bush’s campaign slogan should be “Right to Return” – return to his brother’s failed foreign policy and tax cuts for the wealthy.  He’s already returned to a spectacularly failed shock and awe strategy.  In the last week, Bush has demoted his campaign manager-in-waiting, reminded voters that he would publicly shame unwed mothers, “offered little to differentiate himself from Obama” on his trip to Europe, and sent conflicting signals about whether his super PAC will or won’t raise the $100 million he set as the goal in January. (Not to mention the goal was originally to raise $100 million by March.)

Now Jeb is starting his campaign trailing Lord Voldemort and in a virtual tie with Scott Walker, Marco Rubio, and Ben Carson. Here are a few reasons why he’s unlikely to break away from the pack:

1. Bush Didn’t Take His Own Advice to “Lose the Primary to Win the General”

Bush argued that a winning GOP candidate had to be willing to “lose the primary to win the general,” but he hasn’t taken his own advice. He was the first one to support Indiana’s religious discrimination law, then backtrack in front of Silicon Valley donors only to double down again on a business owner’s right to discriminate. He doesn’t believe in a constitutional right to marriage equality. He’s willing to cut Social Security benefits by raising the retirement age to 70 and called Paul Ryan’s plan to voucherize Medicare “fantastic.”

Last week, it surfaced that Bush supports publicly shaming single mothers, a boneheaded position he first discussed in his 1995 book. He had the chance to disavow his Scarlet Letter policy last week – and took the opportunity to double down on it. For someone who seemed so focused on the general election, Jeb Bush has managed to alienate moderates and women in ways that will make him unelectable.

2. Jeb W. Bush – Just Another Out-Of-Touch Republican

George W. Bush hit the nail on the head when he said his brother has a problem: “Me.” Jeb has proven there’s no sunlight between him, his brother, and his father – 19 of his 21 foreign policy advisors are from his father’s or brother’s foreign policy teams. His economic advisor was W’s tax cut architect.

Take a look at American Bridge’s video on Jeb’s bear hug of his brother — and his foreign policy:

George and Jeb: Foreign Policy Fools

3. Iraq

Remember when Jeb Bush said he would invade Iraq given what we know now? He fumbled through four days of bad press and unintelligible walk-backs from his answer to the ONE question he and his team should have expected, given his brother’s tangential association with the war. It was the largest sign (at the time) that Bush was not ready for prime time. Since then, he hasn’t gotten any better at answering softball questions about his record.

4. Bush Is Misleading About His Tax Cuts for the Wealthy

Take Jeb’s argument on taxes in Florida – rather than cut taxes by $19 billion, as he argues, Florida’s total tax burden actually increased under Bush. Property taxes grew so high that they caused a “near-revolt.”  Meanwhile, his tax cuts were primarily aimed at businesses and the wealthy. On top of it all, economists say tourism, population growth, and home buyers were larger drivers of economic growth than Jeb’s tax cuts.

Meanwhile, spending soared under Bush. Total spending ballooned by $21 billion – 45 percent – while the Florida general fund spending rose by $10 billion – 57 percent.  It’s hardly a good look for a  “conservative” candidate.

In hindsight, Jeb’s weeks are getting worse and worse, with a staff shakeup before his campaign is even launched and wildly setting egregious expectations for his super PAC to raise $100 million.

Time to see if Phase Two of Jeb’s do-or-die mission to convince Tea Party voters and the Koch brothers that he’s a “severely conservative” candidate will go more smoothly.


  • Property taxes under Bush grew considerably, causing a “near revolt” by local taxpayers. Bush’s budgets often relied on increasing Floridian’s property taxes. Under Bush, the total per-capita tax burden increased, while Bush’s tax cuts were aimed at and primarily benefitted corporations and the wealthy, not the middle class. Meanwhile, other factors besides tax cuts were larger drivers of economic growth, including tourism, population growth, and home buyers.
  • State spending rose significantly under Bush. Between 1999 and 2007 Florida general fund spending rose from $18 billion to $28 billion, while Total spending rose from $45 billion to $66 billion.
  • When Bush left office, Florida has one of the highest costs of doing business in the country.
  • The Koch backed Mercatus Center reported that economic freedoms decline in Florida between 2001 and 2007.
  • The Chamber of Commerce gave Florida a “D” when Bush left office in workforce readiness and academic achievement.

Tax Shell Game 


Jeb Bush Touted His Economic Record In Florida; Said “I Cut Taxes To The Tune Of $19 Billion.” According to the Tampa Bay Times, “Faced with countless primary voters skeptical about his views on Common Core and immigration reform, Bush is touting his economic record in Florida. ‘I cut taxes to the tune of $19 billion. We reduced the state government workforce by 13,000, but we took on the entrenched interests in our state, whether it was the trial bar or the folks that were making a lot of money off our workers’ comp system. We reduced those costs and the net effect of this was we had 1.3 million net new jobs during my eight years,’ Bush told a crowd recently in New Hampshire.” [Tampa Bay Times, 5/3/15]


Total State-Local Tax Burden Rose Under Bush

Under Jeb Bush, The Total State And Local Tax Burden Of Floridians Rose From 8.8 To 9.2%.According to the Tax Foundation, Florida’s per capita combined state and local tax burden rose from 8.8% when Bush was elected in 1999, to a rate of 9.2% when Bush’s final budget expired in 2007 [Tax Foundation; Florida’s State and Local Tax Burden, 10/23/12]

Under Bush Property Tax Hikes Drove A “Near-Revolt”

2006: Property Taxes Drove A “Near-Revolt” Across Florida. According to a column by Robert Trigaux and published by the St. Petersburg Times,  “Within the first few weeks as governor, Bush proposed the largest tax cut in state history to reduce property taxes, cut an unpopular tax on stocks and bonds, and give residents a $50 rebate on utility bills, among other measures. The cuts were aimed at saving the average homeowner about $100. How positively quaint that seems now. Property taxes are now driving a near-revolt across the state. Out-of-control property insurance is ravaging consumer budgets so that the ‘average’ homeowner could probably burn through $100 in insurance premiums in the time it takes to read this column.” [St. Petersburg Times – Robert Trigaux Column, 12/4/06]

Property Taxes Grew Faster Than Personal Income And Inflation. According to the Miami Herald, “Property taxes. While Bush gained a reputation as a fierce tax-cutter, he and the GOP-controlled Legislature relied on growth in property values to pay for public schools. Property taxes have grown faster than personal income and inflation, according to information that Bush’s office presented to a tax reform committee the governor set up this past summer to make recommendations on what should be done.” [Miami Herald, 12/17/06]

Steve Bousquet Column: “One Of The Lasting Contradictions Of Bush’s Record Is That He Cut State Taxes By More Than $19 Billion…But As He Exits, Many Floridians Feel Overwhelmed By The Crushing Weight Of Local Property Taxes.” According to a column by Steve Bousquet and published by the St. Petersburg Times, “One of the lasting contradictions of Bush’s record is that he cut state taxes by more than $19-billion, far more than any governor in the state’s history, but as he exits, many Floridians feel overwhelmed by the crushing weight of local property taxes. Bush faults cities and counties for being unwilling to control spending, but local officials say they have been forced to pick up the slack left by Bush and his fellow tax-cutters in Tallahassee, especially on education, where the state’s contribution to local school funding has shrunk.” [St. Petersburg Times – Steve Bousquet Column, 12/29/06]

Under Jeb Bush, The Local Tax Burden Grew Considerably. According to the Tampa Bay Times, “Bush never appreciated it when reporters pointed out how the education budgets he and fellow Republicans put together often relied on increasing Floridians’ property tax bills. Unbeknownst to most Florida homeowners, a sizeable chunk of their property tax bills — at least a quarter of it in many cases — is dictated by the state Legislature. It is known as the ‘Required Local Effort,’ and under Gov. Bush that local tax burden grew considerably. Even as the actual tax rate decreased some years, people paid more for required local effort because their property values increased. When your governor embraces sending you a higher tax bill, is that a tax increase?” [Tampa Bay Times, 5/1/15]


Economists Said Economic Growth Was Due To Other Factors

Jeb Bush boasted that his conservative revolution had led to a $5 billion plus surplus in state revenue and an unemployment rate of 3 percent; Economists credited population growth, home buyers, and tourism for the robust economy. According to a column by David Colburn, “Beyond such political and structural developments, Bush enjoyed eight years of prosperity during which he was able to reduce taxes without disrupting state services. Bush boasted that his conservative revolution had led to a $5 billion plus surplus in state revenue and an unemployment rate of 3 percent. Economists, however, credited population growth, home buyers and tourism for the robust economy.” [Orlando Sentinel – David Colburn Column, 12/10/06]

Job Growth Under Jeb Bush Was Lower Than The Previous Five Governors

Strong Job Growth In Florida During Jeb Bush’s Tenure Was Lower Than That Of The Previous Five Governors. According to the Miami Herald, “A strong state and national economy fattened Florida’s budget by 45 percent — from $49 billion when he took office to more than $71 billion this year. Bush credited his tax cuts for strong job growth, although the rate was the lowest of Florida’s past five governors.” [Miami Herald, 12/17/06]


Sun-Sentinel: Jeb Bush Pushed For Tax Cuts That “Chiefly Benefited Business And The Wealthy.” According to the Sun-Sentinel, “A policy wonk, Bush pursued an agenda so frenetic that even his efficiency czar resigned in protest. ‘I’ve always felt, if you can do something today, why wait? It’s just my nature,’ said Bush, 53, who grew grayer and slightly stouter in Tallahassee, but never slackened his pace, even during his final days. He championed tax cuts that chiefly benefited business and the wealthy, trimmed the state payroll, stripped job protection from thousands of mid-level civil servants, gained more power over the judiciary, exploited his Washington connections to prevent the closing of military bases and launched the nation’s first statewide private school voucher program.” [Sun-Sentinel, 12/31/06]

Carl Hiaasen Column: Jeb Bush Pushed Tax Breaks Which Mainly “Benefitted Corporations And The Welll-To-Do.” According to a column by Carl Hiassen and published by the Miami Herald, “In Tallahassee they talk of the Bush legacy as an historic shift in power from the Legislature to the governor’s office; of the more than 250 judges that he appointed; of the overhaul of the state’s university system, now run by political appointees instead of by an independent Board of Regents; of $19 billion in tax cuts. The rest of Florida won’t remember Bush for his policy initiatives or power-building, abstractions to ordinary folks. Same goes for the tax breaks, which chiefly benefited corporations and the well-to-do. The image of Jeb that will remain in the public consciousness is of a sober, steady presence during all those hurricanes that mauled the state during his tenure.” [Miami Herald, 1/7/07]

St. Petersburg Times: Tax Burden Was “Lightened Only For The Wealthiest, Who Were Taxed The Least To Begin With.” According to an editorial published by the St. Petersburg Times, “In his inaugural address four years ago, Gov. Jeb Bush complained about the ‘crushing weight’ of Florida taxes. He has prided himself on cutting taxes every session since then. But for most Floridians, the state and local tax burden has become heavier still. It has been lightened only for the wealthiest, who were taxed the least to begin with.” [Editorial – St. Petersburg Times, 1/12/03]

Orlando Sentinel: During Eight Years Under Bush, The Legislature Approved A Cumulative $19 Billion In Tax Cuts That Mostly Helped Wealthier Floridians And Corporations. According to the Orlando Sentinel, “During eight years under former Gov. Jeb Bush, the Legislature approved a cumulative $19 billion in tax cuts that mostly helped wealthier Floridians and corporations.” [Orlando Sentinel, 3/2/08]

Spending Went Up Under Bush’s Leadership

CATO: Bush “Let Spending Rise Quickly Toward The End Of His Tenure” And “Jeb Was Good On Taxes, But Apparently Not So Good On Spending.” According to the CATO Institute, “The basic story from the Cato reports is that Jeb Bush was a prolific tax cutter, but he let spending rise quickly toward the end of his tenure. Like George W. Bush, Jeb was good on taxes, but apparently not so good on spending. Jeb Bush was in office from 1999 to 2007. Florida general fund spending increased from $18.0 billion to $28.2 billion during those eight years, or 57 percent. Total state spending increased from $45.6 billion to $66.1 billion, or 45 percent. (This is NASBO data from here and here). Over those eight years, Florida’s population grew 16 percent and the CPI, which measures inflation, grew 24 percent.” [CATO Institute, 4/9/14]

  • 1999-2007: Florida General Fund Spending Rose From $18 Billion To $28 Billion.  [National Association Of State Budget Officers, 1999-2007]
  • 1999-2007: Total Florida Spending Rose From $45 billion to $66 billion [National Association Of State Budget Officers,1999-2007]

Under Bush, Florida Lagged Compared To The Rest Of The Nation


2007: CNBC Ranked Florida’s Cost Of Business As 8th Highest In The Nation. [CNBC Top States 2007, Accessed 4/14/15]


2000: Florida Ranked 31st In Per Capita Personal Income Growth. [Bureau Of Economic Analysis, Accessed 4/15/2015]

2007: Florida Ranked 46th In The Nation In Per Capita Personal Income Growth. [Bureau Of Economic Analysis, Accessed  4/15/2015]


2001: Mercatus Center Ranked Florida 13th In The Nation In Overall Economic And Personal Freedom And 6th In Fiscal Freedom. [Mercatus Center, 2013]

2007:  Mercatus Center Ranked Florida 20th In The Nation In Overall Economic And Personal Freedoms And 10th In Fiscal Freedom. [Mercatus Center, 2013]


2007: U.S. Chamber Of Commerce Gave Florida A “D” For “Postsecondary And Workforce Readiness.”According to the U.S. Chamber Of Commerce, “Florida earns a poor grade in this category. Only 58% of its 9th grade students receive a diploma within four years compared with the national average of 70%.” [U.S. Chamber Of Commerce Report Card, 2007]

2007: U.S. Chamber Of Commerce Gave Florida A “D” For “Academic Achievement.” According to the U.S. Chamber Of Commerce, “Student performance in Florida is lower than average. Eighth graders stand 4 percentage points below the national average in the percentage at or above the proficient level on the NAEP reading exam.” [U.S. Chamber Of Commerce Report Card, 2007]

Published: Jun 15, 2015

Jump to Content