As Jeb Bush officially announces his presidential bid today, the rest of the country is still recovering from the last President Bush. George W. Bush's eight years in office ended in the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression. Even after 63 straight months of private sector job growth under President Obama, we're still digging out of that hole.
But, like most Republicans, Jeb Bush supports a return to the same, failed trickle-down economic policies that leave so many Americans behind. As Governor of Florida, Bush's tax policies favored the rich and wealthy corporations at the expense of the middle class. He stood by his brother's proposal to privatize Social Security and endorsed the Ryan budget that would end Medicare as we know it, policies that would shred the social safety net on which so many Florida seniors rely. While Democrats are fighting to increase the minimum wage, Jeb Bush said it should be left to the private sector.
Since he left the governor's office, Jeb Bush has been involved in several problematic business deals, creating a multi-million dollar fund that operates like an offshore tax haven and sitting on the board of a company that was found to have defrauded investors out of millions of dollars. And Jeb's managed to leverage his family name to reap profits for himself, cashing in on Wall Street while many Americans were hit by the financial crisis.
By now, American voters shouldn't be surprised by Jeb Bush's callous disregard for the middle class. We already know what to expect from a Bush economy. But those of us from Florida who know him best have an even greater understanding of the depth of Bush's contempt for anyone whose views and priorities don't align with his own.
Just look what we've learned from his book, Profiles in Character - there aren't many politicians out there whose policy prescriptions invoke The Scarlet Letter to justify shaming single mothers. Bush has also said that women who make use of government assistance programs "should be able to get their life together and find a husband." His rhetoric and policies for the LGBT community, Latinos, and people of color are equally offensive and out of step with the American people.
In Florida, we witnessed firsthand the consequences of putting in power someone who thinks he is always right, and everyone else who disagrees with him is wrong. That Bush mentality put him at odds with the legislature, the courts, and the voters of Florida. It has hurt our state and our people.
On the campaign trail, the Bush way of doing business as Florida's governor has been reduced to a joke in his stump speech. Bush frequently mentions on the campaign trail that some people called him "Veto Corleone."
And so, "Veto" now wants to get into the top echelon of the family business. But there's another name legislators on both sides of the aisle saw fitting that I think better describes his time as Florida's governor: King Jeb.
Take education, supposedly one of Bush's signature issues. Jeb Bush has long attacked classroom size reductions, a position that put him in direct conflict with the majority of Florida voters who dealt him a crushing defeat at the ballot box when they adopted a constitutional amendment limiting class sizes in primary and secondary schools.
Bush's fiscal irresponsibility proved costly for the state of Florida. When Bush promised Scripps Research Institute a $310 million incentive package to lure the company to Florida, he claimed the deal would create 50,000 jobs in Florida by attracting other biotech companies- but exempted the incentives from open government accountability measures. Twelve years, and $1.3 billion in state, city, and county funding later, the data shows just 1,365 jobs - created at a cost of about $1 million each for taxpayers.
King Jeb only looks out for himself and people like him. He never has, and never will, fight for middle class families. And even though Americans already know what a Bush presidency will mean for them, Jeb Bush still plans to run for President in 2016.
Trust the people of Florida who know him best: Jeb Bush's misplaced priorities and divisiveness are wrong for America.
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