February 20, 2015


Jeb Bush's Record Offers Cover From the Right (BETH REINHARD, Feb. 18, 2015, WSJ)

When limits on gubernatorial power blocked his agenda, Mr. Bush set out to expand those powers. He gained sway over judicial appointments, state contracts, public schools, college admissions and budget appropriations, making him the most powerful governor in Florida history.

Mr. Bush's aggressive approach mostly riled Democrats at the time. But during the GOP primaries, it could cause additional unease among antiestablishment tea party Republicans.

President Barack Obama --and former President George W. Bush--have been accused of abusing executive authority to further their political agenda.

"He tried to bring all branches of government along, but frankly if he ran into a roadblock, he would look for other ways to get it done, and he wouldn't apologize for that," said Cory Tilley, who worked in Mr. Bush's administration. "He had a very aggressive agenda and he knew he had a finite period of time...He's not running for president to be told he can't do things."

Sally Bradshaw, Mr. Bush's first chief of staff and a top adviser to his would-be presidential campaign, said the former Florida governor was determined to fulfill his campaign promises. He wasn't on a "power trip," she said, but proved "an effective leader who develops a plan, pulls people together and then he moves."

Mr. Bush was the first Republican governor to win re-election in Florida, and he ushered in an era of GOP dominance of the nation's largest swing state.

While in office, Mr. Bush delivered $19 billion in tax cuts, vetoed $2 billion in lawmakers' pet projects and shrank the government payroll. He privatized many state services and pioneered a Medicaid overhaul that moved recipients into private managed-care networks. When the courts threw out his first-in-the-nation, taxpayer-funded school vouchers, he fought to preserve a smaller, privately financed program.

"We were looking at government programs across the board, and nothing was off limits to see if it could be done better," said Brian Yablonski, Mr. Bush's policy director during his first term. "He was willing to take on conservative reforms that no one else would touch at that time."

His opponents have to explain why they've never done anything on this host of issues he acted on.

Posted by at February 20, 2015 10:55 AM

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