No Room For Reagan: Jeb Bush Questions Republican Party's Shift

   on June 11 2012 2:29 PM
Jeb Bush
Jeb Bush Reuters

The modern Republican Party has become so hostile to compromise that it would reject past standard-bearers like Ronald Reagan and George Bush, former Florida governor Jeb Bush said today.

Speaking to reporters and editors at Bloomberg LP's Manhattan headquarters, Bush said his father, George H.W., and Reagan -- often cited as the ideological lodestar of modern Republicans -- would have repudiated an orthodoxy that doesn't allow for disagreement. 

Back to my dad's time and Ronald Reagan's time -- they got a lot of stuff done with a lot of bipartisan suport, Bush said, calling the dysfunction underlying the current political landscape disturbing.

Both Reagan and the first President Bush embraced measures that would have been anathema to the Republican Party of today. Reagan presided over tax increases and raised the nation's debt limit multiple times, a formerly routine procedure that the current Republican-controlled House of Representatives has transformed into a bitter clash with President Obama. President George H.W. Bush's decision to break a campaign promise and raise taxes proved to be his undoing, but Jeb stood behind it.

The budget deal my dad did, with bipartisan support -- at least for a while -- that created the spending restraint of the '90s, Bush said, adding that the move was helpful in creating a climate of more sustained economic growth.

The critique was all the more significant coming from Bush, the scion of a prominent Republican family that has produced two presidents. Jeb was rumored to be mulling a run in 2012 (he recently said that he missed his chance by not joining the fray) and his name surfaces often in speculation about Romney's potential running mate.

Still, the former Florida governor did not restrict his criticism to his own party. He also assailed President Obama for pursuing a partisan agenda that fomented much of the strife in Washington.

His first year could have been a year of enormous accomplishment had he focused on things where there was more common ground, Bush said.

Bush also suggested that Romney had put himself in somewhat of a box by aligning himself with the Republican Party's enforcement-first immigration hard-liners. He suggested that Romney pursue a broader approach to immigration, evoking an earlier era when mainstream Republicans espoused immigration views that would likely be denounced today as pushes for amnesty.

I do feel a little out of step with my party on this, Bush said.

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