Candidate Bush Joins Construction, Manufacturer Coalition on Teleforum

December 2nd, 2015 by Nick St. Denis

The construction and manufacturing industries had some one-on-one time with a presidential candidate recently.

A coalition of building sector associations participated in the second edition of a presidential teleforum series, as industry members spent more than a half hour hearing from former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush on his policies as they pertain to business and the economy.

The teleforum was hosted by the National Association of Manufacturers, Associated Builders and Contractors (ABC), the Associated General Contractors of America, BIPAC, the National Federation of Independent Business and the National Retail Federation. Thousands of members of the coalition listened in on the call, and a handful were able to pitch questions to Bush during the 45-minute forum.

A recurring theme in the call with Bush was “growth,” reflecting on his time as governor of Florida from 1999-2007. “We worked together in concert with business to create 1.3 million jobs over eight years, more than any other state for seven out of those eight years,” he said, adding that his state “led the nation in small business creation” those eight years.

One participant asked Bush about tax reform. He explained that his plan would simplify the tax code, with the top tax rate being 28 percent and a capital gains rate of 20 percent implemented. He also proposes the elimination of the estate tax, which he said is important for small businesses.

“The reality is, there are a lot of family-owned businesses that create a lot of prosperity for communities and, sadly, people have to sell their businesses when the founder passes away or one generation dies, as there’s not the liquidity to be able to keep the business afloat,” he said.

Bush repeatedly knocked the Democrats’ “top-down” approach of policy and regulation.

“The real challenge in America today is that the first rung of the ladder is harder and harder to get a hold of, and I think whatever our policies are, we have to restore economic mobility,” he said. “… All these top-down driven approaches of regulation, or raising the minimum wage, or higher taxes only stifle the ability of people to rise up.

“We have to defend our free enterprise system so that people who are in poverty can be lifted out—people at the bottom rung of the ladder have a chance to move up. If not, we’re going to have a society where if you’re born wealthy you say wealthy if you’re born poor you’re going to stay poor, and if you’re in the middle, you get perpetually squeezed.”

Another participant asked Bush how he would address deteriorating infrastructure. The former Florida governor said he would delegate more decision-making power to the states, much like other programs he proposes. He said there should be more regional planning and project development at the local and regional levels, and that state and federal monies would be used to help fund the projects that have been thoroughly vetted.

Regarding regulations, he repeated much of what Florida Sen. Marco Rubio said on the last teleforum, talking about shifting power back to the states and delegate environmental regulation authority to states as much as possible. Another common theme was the concept of a regulatory budget, “where there is an intellectually honest appraisal of the regulatory costs, so the people can make their own judgements about what the social benefits are and where the costs outweigh the social benefits.”

Regarding social spending, he said “a lot of the funding for many of these programs don’t have to be done in Washington. If you block granted Medicaid back to the states, you could get a far better insurance program with less fraud at a lower cost, save the federal taxpayers a lot of money, and provide better services for low income Americans,” He said. “But there are scores of those kinds of programs where I would trust a bottom-up approach rather than a top-down approach.”

Regarding healthcare, Bush said he would eliminate the federal exchange and replace the current system with voluntary exchanges on the state level with more “portable” insurance. He said the requirement would be a catastrophic coverage and that his proposed plan would “dramatically expand the number of people who can access health savings accounts, where we allow small business to support an individual’s healthcare insurance plan.” For employees not covered by a third-party or employer insurance, he said employers would be able to provide tax-free contributions to their plans.

Bush was also pressed on how he would help curb the growing national debt, to which he replied that “growing the economy at a faster rate will generate far more revenue than any exotic form of taxation that’s ever been suggested by any liberal on the national scene.” He said by simplifying the code, simplifying regulations and fixing entitlements programs, “you could quickly get toward a balanced budget.”

The coalition announced that Texas Sen. Ted Cruz will be next to speak. Other candidates still invited to speak with the groups are Dr. Ben Carson, Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Former HP CEO Carly Fiorina, Former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee, Ohio Gov. John Kasich, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Businessman Donald Trump.

To learn what Marco Rubio said, click here.

Tags: , ,

Leave Comment