Jeb Bush, son and brother of two former Presidents, is considering his own run for the Presidency in 2016. Will he make a good President? Will he be better than President Obama or any other challenger? I voted for President Obama once, back in 2008. And, as a business owner, I learned a hard lesson from this. The lesson has little to do with the man (I like President Obama personally). Instead it has to do with environment. Not the environment, but...environment.
It's easy to say that Jeb Bush would be better for business. His record as a two-term Governor of Florida is a pro-business one. He's a pro-growth, low taxes leader. During the eight year period he held office, he cut social programs from the budget and refused to raise taxes for education. According to his Wikipedia page, he reduced taxes by $19 billion, reduced the size of the state government by 6.6%, vetoed $2 billion in new spending and presided over Florida receiving its highest possible bond rating. In his first term he used the state's line item veto rules to cut almost $449 million from the budget, much of this coming from social programs.
He is the anti-Obama. In an article he wrote for NewsMax, a conservative website, Bush opposed the President's 2009 stimulus, supports fracking and "unleashing" domestic energy production, wants there to be legal immigration without rewarding lawbreakers, and abhors excessive government regulation and spending on entitlements. "If nothing else," he writes "We can't address deficits--projected as far as the eye can see--without having an honest conversation about the growth rates in entitlement programs. These programs, designed and promised to be self-sustaining, will completely overwhelm the rest of the government's budget responsibilities by the time today's youngest workers retire. Wherever possible, conservatives should propose, through waivers from federal law and through state law, alternatives to the steady march to government control of healthcare."
For him, it all starts with less taxes. Bush wants "a flatter tax code with lower rates and that has far fewer carve-outs, phase-outs, and special exemptions." He believes the "conservative movement must focus not only on lower taxes, but simpler taxes," and that "tax simplification a constant habit, just as we focus on earmarks."
All of this is music to a business person's ears. Lower taxes. Less government regulations. Simplification. Reduced entitlements. An attack on deficits. Not only that, but Jeb Bush, as a former Governor, business owner, investor and member of a political dynasty, would come into the job with much more managerial, governmental and business experience than the President ever had. But that's still not the reason why he would be a better for your business. Lincoln, Truman, and Kennedy arguably all had less experience than him and they turned out to be pretty good at their jobs. So what's the real reason why Jeb Bush would be better for your business than President Obama?
The current environment in Washington and in the country is not pro-business. It's pro-populist. The business man is evil. The "people" are the heroes. President Obama has presided over an enormous shift in attitudes over the past six years. Corporate America is bad. Wall Street is bad. Our banks and large corporations are bad. Companies that legally avoid taxes by keeping their money overseas are anti-American. Domestic energy needs to be reigned in. The wealthy are getting wealthier and the 99% are suffering. Since 2008 my clients who run good, profitable businesses that have enabled them to put money away for their kids' college educations, drive a nice car and live in a nice house have been made to feel like they are the enemy. They hold on to their cash more. They're averse to taking risks. I have watched them grow to despise the government as they are forced to pay more taxes and deal with more regulations and bureaucracy. All of this as they watch, with terror, our deficits and national debt grow and wonder when the bills are coming due, and who's going to pay.
That's the environment that business people have been living in for the past few years under President Obama. Jeb Bush may be equally as bad at compromising with his opponents. There may also be as much, if not more, gridlock in Washington under his Presidency. Some of his right-of-center opinions on immigration, social programs and education are certain to touch off bitter debates and rancor. He may very well be unpopular with minority groups in the country, lampooned by Jon Stewart and detested by unions and environmentalists. Like President Obama, he lacks foreign policy experience. He certainly would not be the perfect President. His opponents (including some of his potential Democrat opponents who I also like) may be better. But, as far as your business is concerned, he would be a good President. And it's only because the environment he would create would be one of pro-business. And that's an environment we haven't seen in a while.