February 24, 2016
On Saturday, Jeb Bush dropped out of the presidential race. His tolerance for bigger government, his defense of his brother's policies, and his praise of Obama's expansion of the NSA surveillance program made him hard to stomach for many libertarians. And yet, I will admit that I am sorry to see him go.
Beyond the fact that he seemed like a nice guy totally uninterested in the campaigning aspect of becoming president, he went out of his way to be a policy and ideas guy. If you check his website, more than any other candidate he put out numerous and detailed policy plans to reform this and that. For instance, he put out a thoughtful tax plan with many desirable features. Better yet, like all the other candidates, his tax plan was far from being revenue neutral, a positive feature in my opinion.
However, what really set Bush apart is that he paired his tax reform plan with a detailed proposal to reform Social Security and Medicare. Take his Social Security plan. If the goal is to “preserve and protect” what I would argue is an unfair program by implementing reforms to make it solvent, it is a relatively good plan. Also, his Medicare plan had the rare feature of not kicking the can down the road, as most reform plans have done before, by implementing reforms that take effect sooner rather than later.
To his credit, Bush also took on the soporific issue of regulatory reform. While I thought his plan could have been bolder, he still deserves to be praised for putting out a realistic and significant plan. I am still waiting to see who else will tackle the very boring but incredibly needed discussion of overregulation in the detailed manner he did. He also proposed some ideas to reform government, put out an education reform plan, and penned a health care reform plan.
To be honest, I also admired his willingness to defend his position on immigration. Considering the current political environment on the issue, I thought he was brave to stick to his guns. I wish his position on cronyism demonstrated the same consistency.
Now, the Bushes (father and son) have been real disappointments to advocates of limited government (to say the least) when they were presidents, and there was little reasons to believe that this Bush would have been much different. However, while we will never know for sure, I suspect that without the Donald Trump phenomenon that hijacked this presidential campaign, Jeb Bush could have made this Republican primary a battle of ideas and policies.