Jeb Bush

Jeb Bush: Brother George Blew It on "Fiscal Restraint"

Former Florida governor criticizes his older brother's presidency on first Colbert show. But is GOP really party of "limited govt"?


Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, who's running for president, had this to say on the first-ever late-night show for Stephen Colbert:

"I think my brother didn't control the Republican Congress's spending," Jeb said, noting that when he himself was governor of Florida, he was such a fiscal conservative that his treasured nickname was Veto Corleone. "He should have brought the hammer down… Our brand is limited government. He didn't veto things. He didn't bring order and fiscal restraint."

Well, that's a start. Certainly, it's better than Jeb's muddled endorsement of the Iraq War (which, lest we forget, was a dumb war fought badly).

Jeb Bush was the second guest on Colbert's show, which got a rave review from Lloyd Grove of The Daily Beast. The former Comedy Central star's first guest? George Clooney, who must have thought he was stepping back on The Colbert Report set:

"We don't know each other," Colbert told Clooney, after noting that he wasn't invited to Clooney's wedding last year to international human rights lawyer Amal Alamuddin. "I don't know you, but I wanted to give you something," he added—handing over a robin's egg blue Tiffany box.

When the goateed, mustachioed Clooney opened the wedding gift, it turned out to be a silver paperweight engraved with the words, "I don't know you."

"You can pass that on to another celebrity that you don't know," Colbert suggested.

Read the whole thing.

To go back to Jeb: While I'm heartened to hear any politician claim that his party's "brand is limited government," the GOP has a long way to go before laying claim to such a description. Certainly, George W. Bush and the Republicans who controlled Congress through a chunk of his time in office were spendthrifts (spending increased about 50 percent in real dollars under Dubya).

But limited government isn't just about spending and in many ways, Bush and the GOP are in favor of expansive and invasive government. First and foremost, they are forever talking about bombing and invading and embroiling the U.S. in other countries via military intervention. With a few notable exceptions (Rand Paul, Thomas Massie, Justin Amash), they've got no problem having the state spy on us and put us in jail for doing drugs. George W. Bush gladly signed off on Sarbanes-Oxley, Medicare expansion, No Child Left Behind, and TARP, as did most of his fellow conservatives then in Congress. And of course nowadays, basically all the GOP presidential candidates are in favor of mandatory E-Verify, an anti-illegal-immigrant mechanism that will essentially mean all employment decisions must be cleared by the federal government. Cripes on steroids.

This is no small matter for the GOP to understand: Yes, limited government is about spending less, but it's also about regulating less—even and especially when it comes to the ways that individuals want to live their lives. If the GOP is really serious about limiting the size, scope, and spending of government at all levels, it would do well to dust off Leonard Read's old libertarian credo and pronounce that the party is in favor of "Anything that's peaceful."


NEXT: Hillary Clinton Is Sorry, Seattle Teachers on Strike, Paul and Cruz on Trump: A.M. Links

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  1. Yes, limited government is about spending less, but it’s also about regulating less?even and especially when it comes to the ways that individuals want to live their lives.

    How are people supposed to know how to live their lives without having to ask permission and obey orders from government?

    Stupid libertarians are like teenagers who don’t want to listen to their parents! When are they going to learn that we’re all children and government is our parent?

    1. Government is just another word for the crimes we commit together.

    2. I hear you. The Bush brothers want a police state for all non government people. Although, Jeb calls illegals that commit violent crimes, an act of love. We don’t need another law and order, and religious nut job member of the Bush family in the White House. The only bill that G.W. Bush vetoed was a bill to find cures for diseases through stem cell research. He claimed it was on religious grounds. He also gave us the Patriot Act and a law that allows federal prosecutors to go after anyone any time that they want. Because Bush, and the congress eliminated the statute of limitations on all federal crimes. Except, for cases involving government corruption by government employees. Those cases must be filed within the old five year time frame.

  2. It is still a mystery to me what this Jeb guy offers to anyone not a power suck up. He is ponderous vacuum with handlers. One of many.

    1. Wef,

      The only thing worse than another Bush or Clinton would be; Sanders, Biden, Elizabeth Warren, Chris Cristy.

  3. the Iraq War (which, lest we forget, was a dumb war fought badly)

    Ug. It was a dumb war fought well. The war was over in a couple of weeks.

    It was the occupation that was a clusterf*&k. They should have dusted off a few of the people who ran Germany and Japan under martial law but the Bush administration was too optomistic that the Iraqi people would take to Jeffersonian democracy automatically.

  4. Our brand is limited government.

    Yugo’s brand was “cars that make sense.” Yugo’s was closer to the truth.


  6. I remember having whichever “Ed” was head of the RNC in 2003 come to a Chamber meeting I attended. During Q&A I asked “When is the GOP going to actually show some fiscal restraint?”
    “Ed” said, “Well, 9-11 changed everything and we need to beef up spending to combat terrorism and we’ll get back to being fiscally responsible when that all works itself out.” Still waiting, “Ed.”

    1. Before 9/11, under Reagan, it was something else. A “heartfelt principle” that you always have an excuse for ignoring isn’t a heartfelt principle.

  7. “Well, 9-11 changed everything and we need to beef up spending to combat terrorism and we’ll get back to being fiscally responsible when that all works itself out.”

    So… NEVER.

  8. When Howard Dean accuses you of running the country on the Argentine model, it’s time to take a long, hard look in the mirror.

  9. The Republican Party has always been a fake on fiscal responsibility. Even Senator Phil Gramm, who positioned himself as the ultimate budget hawk, the self-proclaimed king of the anti-pork movement, still voted for the Superconducting Supercollider, a hugely expensive, wasteful science project whose measurements would have been meaningful to fewer than two hundred scientists in the whole world and had no practical applications at all, and whose construction and operation would have cost many billions of dollars and generated no valuable technological spinoffs. Why did he vote for this gigantic waste of precious Federal research dollars? Because the Federal government proposed building it in his state. Mr anti-pork didn’t even try to resist pork for himself.

  10. no thanks.

    don’t give a fuck.

  11. If anything, the Congress was following compassionate conservative W’s lead. The GOP establishment had been angsting once again about being perceived as too mean under Gingrich’s speakership.

  12. Show me a compassionate conservative and I’ll show you a big-government liberal who claims to oppose abortion.

  13. Ya know, Jeb actually presents the edge case where this:

    “We must do something, this is something, lets do this” makes sense.

    Left to their own devices, the Repub poobahs would give Jeb the nom. However, its looking more and more like W really was the smarter of the two, and Jeb would just be perfectly happy to let things keep going to hell in a handbasket. What an entitled crony status quo dipshit nonentity he is.

    So, we must do something other than elect Jeb. Trump is something, so lets elect Trump.

    Honest to god, not being snarky, in the big picture/long run I’m not at all sure that Trump wouldn’t be better for the country than Jeb.

    1. This was no smart one.
      I think it’s fetal alcohol syndrome.
      Look at Big Mama’s complexion.
      And 3 packs of ciggies a day.

  14. his party’s “brand is limited government”

    Just because a donkey has “100% GRADE-A BEEF” stamped on its ass, doesn’t mean it’s going to make a good steak.

  15. Republicans are really just democrats with bibles. When it comes to spending it’s not a matter of how much, just where will it be applied. Same with regulation, federal power, social/economic engineering. The very thought of limits on federal power is laughable to them both, the only divide between the two parties is how should federal omnipotence be applied.

    1. Your right, they are all pro police state, and do as they say, not as they do.

Please to post comments

Comments are closed.