Another Bush Is Running For President
Jeb Bush announced he is running for president today, surprising everyone who thought he already made that announcement six months ago. Nearly ten years after the end of his two terms as governor of Florida and after a major staff shakeup, Jeb has officially launched his campaign as an “inclusive” Republican. But despite his promises to “make opportunity common again,” Bush’s record as governor and his policy positions since suggest he is more likely to protect the opportunity of those who already have it. Bush’s tenure was marked by a decrease in access to higher education, access to the American dream, and access to justice —all critical to increased opportunity.
Ahead of Bush’s announcement, CAP action examined the impact of Bush’s policy positions and actions as governor and analyzed how they would impact the entire country. We found that the rhetoric we saw in his announcement speech today doesn’t match up with the reality of his leadership:
Rhetoric: “We stopped processing kids along as if we didn’t care – because we do care, and you don’t show that by counting out anyone’s child. You give them all a chance.”
Reality: As governor of Florida, Jeb Bush repealed affirmative action for public higher education institutions, and as a result African American enrollment at Florida universities decreased by 10.9 percent. Over the same time period, African American enrollment in public universities nationwide actually increased by 3.5 percent. If, instead of increasing, national black enrollment decreased at the same rate Florida’s did, it would mean 13.9 percent fewer black students in these universities in 2013 – a total of 85,726 fewer black students enrolled. That’s equivalent to all the African American students in all California public universities – five times over.
Rhetoric: “The next president of the United States will pass meaningful immigration reform.”
Reality: Bush has been so vocal an opponent of President Obama’s executive action on immigration that he compared the president to a “Latin American dictator.” A report from the Center for American Progress shows that President Obama’s actions to reform our immigration system would grow our economy by $230 billion over ten years. Bush’s home state of Florida would see nearly $10 billion in GDP growth and allow 230,000 immigrants to come out of the shadows, work and pay taxes.
Stand Your Ground:
Rhetoric: “…Every life matters and everyone has the right to rise.”
Reality: We can thank Jeb Bush for signing the first “Stand Your Ground” law in the nation. In 2012, a study by the Tampa Bay Times of Stand Your Ground cases in Florida found that people who invoke the law to justify a killing are more likely to be successful if the victim was black: 73% of perpetrators who killed a black victim faced no penalty versus 59% of perpetrators who killed a white victim. Since Bush passed the Stand Your Ground Law a defendant in Florida is 24 percent more likely to win a case if the victim were black than if the victim were white. Florida’s law paved the way for other states to adopt similar laws, which have contributed to an additional 600 homicides per year.
Rhetoric: Bush talks often about giving everyone the ability to rise up, lamenting that, “we’re moving to a world that is sticky in the ends, where it’s harder for people in poverty to move up and where the rich are doing really well and the middle is getting squeezed.”
Reality: Bush may say that everyone has the right to rise, but while governor he opposed a federal effort to expand paid sick leave, a policy that heavily impacts working women. Instead of opening the door to opportunity, Bush said these types of policies “are best left to businesses.” But passing paid leave would benefit the more than 40 million American workers that can’t take a single day off work to recover from an illness or take care of a family member without risking losing their jobs.
BOTTOM LINE: On these issues and many more, Jeb Bush is a divider, not a uniter. His announcement speech today was full of rhetoric promising to expand opportunity for hard working Americans, but Bush’s record paints a much different picture.
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