MIAMI (CBSMiami) – Former Florida governor Jeb Bush has driven a wedge between hard-core conservatives and their icon, former President Ronald Reagan.
Over the weekend, Bush said that both Reagan and his father George H.W. Bush would have struggled to even win the party’s nomination based on the hard-line stance of many in the Republican Party.
“Ronald Reagan would have, based on his record of finding accommodation, finding some degree of common ground, as would my dad – they would have a hard time if you define the Republican party – and I don’t – as having an orthodoxy that doesn’t allow for disagreement, doesn’t allow for finding some common ground,” Jeb Bush told reporters, according to buzzfeed.com.
“Back to my dad’s time and Ronald Reagan’s time – they go a lot of stuff done with a lot of bipartisan support,” Bush said.
He continued saying Reagan would have been criticized for striking moderate deals with Democrats.
History backs up Jeb Bush’s point. Reagan raised taxes numerous times in exchange for spending cuts. Overall, according to Reagan adviser Bruce Bartlett, Reagan increased taxes by $132.7 billion through 1988. Bartlett said that would equate to a $367 billion tax hike in current money.
Jeb called the current partisan climate “disturbing,” according to buzzfeed.com.
Bush blamed President Obama for much of the conflict saying Obama ran a political calculation to run a hard-line partisan White House. On the other hand, Republicans were holding meetings in Washington the night of the inauguration in 2004 to plan how to derail any and all policies of the Obama Administration.
Not surprisingly, the man credited with driving much of the current Republican Party’s orthodoxy on taxes, Grover Norquist, criticized Bush. Norquist crafted a pledge to never increase taxes for any reason that current-day Republicans sign or have trouble getting support from national Republicans.
“That’s foolish,” Norquist told the website TalkingPointsMemo.com about Bush’s comments. “It’s sup-it’s bizarre.”
Norquist continued to TalkingPointsMemo.com, “There’s a guy (Jeb) who watched his father throw away his presidency on a 2:1 [ratio of spending cuts to tax increases] promise. And he thinks he’s sophisticated by saying that he’d take a 10:1 promise. He doesn’t understand — he’s just agreed to walk down the same alley his dad did with the same gang. And he thinks he’s smart. You walk down that alley, you don’t come out. You certainly don’t come out with 2:1 or 10:1.”
The Bush comments are part of a small, but growing schism of Republicans who are starting to break with Norquist’s hard-line orthodoxy on taxes. Whether more Republicans start to break, or Norquist’s anti-tax increase orthodoxy continues to rule the Republican Party is yet to be determined.