Jeb Bush on Social Security

Republican FL Governor; V.P. prospect


Means-testing: wealthiest shouldn't receive same benefits

BUSH: You have to reform Social Security, and the simple way to do it is to make sure that the wealthiest don't receive the same benefits as people that are lower-income. And make sure you enhance savings in the private market: the idea of 401(k)'s. I have a small business that I set up. It took an arm and a leg to be able to set up a 401(k). Because of all the federal mandates and federal laws, it was too expensive. We need to incent private savings and make sure that Social Security is protected for those that have it.

HUCKABEE: When I hear people talking about means testing, let's just remember it means that the government decides whether or not I deserve it. If a person lives in a seven-room house, does the government get to say you don't need seven rooms, we're going to take two of them away? Folks, the government has no business stealing even more from the people who have paid this in. I just want to remind you: People paid their money; they expect to have it.

Source: GOP `Your Money/Your Vote` 2015 CNBC 1st-tier debate , Oct 28, 2015

Allow diverting over 10% to private savings accounts

While his brother, former President George W. Bush, pursued a controversial plan to privatize Social Security, Jeb Bush said in August that he doesn't plan to take a similar path. "It would have made sense back then, now we're way beyond that," Bush said

Earlier this year, Bush took heat from critics after saying that he wants "to phase out this program for others and move to a new system that allows them to have something." After Democrats pounced, accusing the candidate of wanting to destroy entitlements, Bush pushed back, saying he wanted to "reform" the program, not eliminate it.

To help increase retirement savings plans, Bush would encourage "starter 401(k) plans" for small business employees. He also favors the idea of letting small bu

Source: CNN 2015 coverage of 2016 presidential hopefuls , Oct 27, 2015

Next president should try again for privatization

Jeb Bush thinks the next president will need to privatize Social Security, while acknowledging that his brother attempted to do so and failed. Bush has previously said he would support raising the retirement age to get Social Security benefits, a common position among Republicans. And he backed a partial privatization that House Republicans have proposed that would allow people to choose private accounts.

Bush acknowledged that when his brother President George W. Bush attempted to privatize Social Security in 2005, he met great bipartisan resistance. "My brother tried, got totally wiped out," Bush said. "Republicans and Democrats wanted nothing to do with it. The next president is going to have to try again."

Bush also said Social Security shouldn't be called an entitlement: "It's a supplemental retirement system that's not actuarially sound, how about that. Medicaid and Medicare are entitlements, and they are growing at a far faster rate than anything else in government."

Source: International Business Times on 2016 presidential hopefuls , Jun 16, 2015

Push back the retirement age to 68 or 70

Jeb Bush wants to push back the retirement age for Social Security by as many as five years. Instead of allowing Americans to collect full benefits at age 65, Bush suggested that it should be pushed back to 68 or 70: "I think it needs to be phased in over an extended period of time," he said on CBS's "Face the Nation."

"We need to look over the horizon and begin to phase in, over an extended period of time, going from 65 to 68 or 70," he added. "And that, by itself, will help sustain the retirement system for anybody under the age of 40."

At the same time, Bush said that he would be open to cutting back benefits for wealthy people and their beneficiaries, a reform proposal known as means testing. "I think it ought to be considered, for sure," Bush said.

GOP lawmakers have repeatedly talked about trying to raise the retirement age and restructure the benefit program in order to make the program more sustainable. So far, however, grand entitlement reform has remained elusive.

Source: The Hill weblog 2015 coverage of 2016 presidential hopefuls , May 31, 2015

Wrong to scare seniors about not protecting Social Security

A statement from former Florida governor Jeb Bush on Charlie Crist's dishonest Social Security attack on Marco Rubio:

"Charlie Crist should be ashamed of his false attack against Marco Rubio on Social Security. Charlie Crist is purposely trying to scare seniors in order to win votes. "The fact is, Marco Rubio will protect Social Security. His own mother relies on Social Security and he has repeatedly stated that he would not support or propose any benefit reductions for current retirees or people who are close to retirement."

"Charlie Crist used to believe that scaring seniors to win votes was wrong. I know this first-hand because in 1995 he spoke out forcefully in my defense when the very same kind of false attacks were made against me. It is sad that he has become so enamored with winning political office that he has abandoned the very principles that steered him into public service in the first place. I am disappointed, but can't say I am surprised."

Source: John McCormack, The Weekly Standard, "Jeb Rips Crist" , Oct 5, 2010

Privatization became administration's fundamental philosophy

The governor sought to extend the use of privatization, and adopted the theory as the fundamental philosophical principle of his administration. He declared, "I would look at any outsource opportunity."

The governor was extraordinarily successful in achieving his legislative goals regarding privatization: Florida hired private sector companies to administer programs that other states had also privatized: managing state prisons, collecting fees on the state's tollways, and cleaning state buildings. But Bush expanded privatization into uncharted territory and contracted out state personnel services (payroll, benefits, training, recruitment, etc.), the management of Medicaid billing.

Like other officials throughout the nation, Bush argued that he was privatizing Florida state government in order to bring about cost savings and efficiency. However, the speed and manner in which he initiated and carried out his plans led some to suggest that political philosophy was the driving force.

Source: Aggressive Conservatism in Florida, by Robert Crew, p.116-7 , Dec 11, 2009

Social service benefits via private & faith-based companies

The Bush social services reform program [was] designed, in large part, to enable private companies, nonprofit organizations and faith-based organizations to provide services that had traditionally been provided by the state: economic benefits to low-income citizens, protective services to children at risk of harm, community services to people who suffered from developmental disabilities, and medical services to poor citizens.

The larger issue regarding the faith-based initiative was that virtually no effort was made to evaluate the activities of the organizations that received public money or to compare their costs and quality of service with those of other service providers. Analysis was impossible and as a consequence the state knows very little about the relative advantages and disadvantages of using faith-based organizations to deliver public services.

Source: Aggressive Conservatism in Florida, by Robert Crew, p.144-6 , Dec 11, 2009

1994 opponent falsely accused Jeb of cutting Social Security

In 1994, my brothers George W and Jeb officially announced they would run for governors in Texas and Florida, respectively. Each would face tough, popular incumbents--Governor Ann Richards for George, and Governor Lawton Chiles for Jeb.

Jeb ran a positive campaign on the issues--namely, law enforcement, education, and welfare reform--and was locked in a tight race coming down to the stretch. Then an automated phone call claiming to be from the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP)--but really originating from the Chiles campaign--went out to 750,000 senior citizens in Florida claiming, falsely, that if elected, Jeb would cut their Social Security payments.

On election day, George won by a comfortable margin with 53.5%, but Jeb lost by 64,000 votes--the closest gubernatorial election in Florida history.

Source: My Father, My President, by Doro Koch Bush, p.449-451 , Oct 6, 2006

Maintain long-term solvency of Social Security and Medicare.

Bush adopted the National Governors Association position paper:

The Issue

With the first federal budget surplus in a generation and estimates of non-Social Security surpluses ranging from $750 billion to $1.9 trillion over the next decade, the issue is whether Congress and the President will agree to dedicate a portion of the projected surplus to tax cuts and, if so, what the impacts on states might be.

NGAís Position

NGA opposes reductions from current discretionary spending levels or changes that could risk the long-term solvency of the nationís Social Security and Medicare systems. NGA supports provisions to ensure reduced barriers to state and local capital finance through tax-exempt bonds and to ensure maximum flexibility in setting and maintaining state retirement plans and programs.
Source: National Governors Association "Issues / Positions" 01-NGA16 on Aug 1, 2001

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Page last updated: Aug 18, 2016