Bush vows to end DC gridlock
© Getty Images

Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush promised to break Washington gridlock in a sweeping domestic policy speech Monday meant to frame him as the only leader who could alleviate the nation's woes.

Promising a vision "on a scale we haven't seen since the Reagan years,” the GOP presidential candidate said he’d announce tax and regulatory reform proposals over the "coming months,” as well as changes to entitlement programs and a replacement for ObamaCare.

ADVERTISEMENT
"Should I win this election, you will not find me deferring to the settled ways of 'Mount Washington,' either," Bush said at Florida State University, chiding D.C. as out of touch with the needs and values of regular Americans.

"The overspending, the overreaching, the arrogance and the sheer incompetence in that city — these problems have been with us so long that they are sometimes accepted as facts of life. But a president should never accept them, and I will not."

Bush's expansive speech is his most specific economic policy road map since he announced his bid last month. From the start, his campaign has touted Bush as having the experience needed to turn the nation around and a conservative record that will resonate with both the GOP establishment and base.

Without specifically mentioning his main home-state rival, Sen. Marco RubioMarco Antonio RubioCongress — when considering women’s health, don’t forget about lung cancer Anti-Maduro Venezuelans not unlike anti-Castro Cubans of yore Tax reform postmortem reveals lethal dose of crony capitalism MORE (R-Fla.), he criticized lawmakers who don't show up to work when Congress is in session and called for a bill that would dock their pay when they skip a day.

"The reality is that Congress is in session for three days in a typical week anyway, so it’s not asking too much that every member be there and work on those days," he said.

"And if it’s an incentive they need, how about the one that pretty much every worker in America has in their job? You don’t show up, you don’t get paid for that time. "

Three sitting senators running for president — Rubio and Sens. Ted CruzRafael (Ted) Edward CruzTen dead after shooting at Texas high school Hillicon Valley: Lawmakers target Chinese tech giants | Dems move to save top cyber post | Trump gets a new CIA chief | Ryan delays election security briefing | Twitter CEO meets lawmakers For cable commentators, the 2016 GOP primary never ended MORE (Texas) and Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamSunday shows preview: Lawmakers weigh in after Texas school shooting Kim Jong Un surprises with savvy power plays Overnight Finance: Watchdog weighs probe into handling of Cohen bank records | Immigration fight threatens farm bill | House panel rebukes Trump on ZTE | Trump raises doubts about trade deal with China MORE (S.C.) — have been panned for missing votes during their campaigns, a common practice in previous election cycles as well. 

A recent vote analysis by The New York Times found the other two senators running for the White House — Sens. Rand PaulRandal (Rand) Howard PaulOvernight Defense: Senate confirms Haspel as CIA chief | Trump offers Kim 'protections' if he gives up nukes | Dem amendments target Trump military parade Hillicon Valley: Lawmakers target Chinese tech giants | Dems move to save top cyber post | Trump gets a new CIA chief | Ryan delays election security briefing | Twitter CEO meets lawmakers Overnight Finance: Watchdog weighs probe into handling of Cohen bank records | Immigration fight threatens farm bill | House panel rebukes Trump on ZTE | Trump raises doubts about trade deal with China MORE (R-Ky.) and Bernie SandersBernard (Bernie) SandersSunday shows preview: Lawmakers weigh in after Texas school shooting Voters Dems need aren't impressed by anti-waterboarding showboating Primary win gives resurgent left a new shot of adrenaline MORE (I-Vt.) — have only missed a few votes.

Bush criticized Washington for operating on autopilot, ticking off a slew of pitches meant to push back against what he characterized as a needless expansion of the federal footprint. Those included a balanced budget amendment, a line-item veto for the president and a federal hiring freeze that would bring on only one person for every three who leave the public sector.

"In the short of it, we’re going to turn off the automatic switch on discretionary spending increases and weigh budgets only on the merits," he said.

Bush also proposed clamping down on lobbyists, including greater transparency about which members of Congress they meet with and extending the ban on ex-lawmakers lobbying their former colleagues to six years.

He added that an "unproductive employee” of the government should be gone within weeks, not years, a veiled jab at a number of public workers in the Obama administration who have retained their positions years after public flaps.

"If the aim is to bring out the best in public servants and to improve morale across the federal workforce, then we have to get the incentives right. No more doling out raises across the board," he said.

"If we respect and recognize skill and dedication when we see them, then I promise you: We’ll see a lot more excellence in the ranks of the civil service — and we’ll attract new talent as well."

Bush has remained at the top of the GOP polls since he began floating his presidential bid, and part of his implicit pitch to voters is that he's the party's best chance at taking on Democratic front-runner Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonTrump Jr. met with Gulf adviser who offered help to win election: report Voters Dems need aren't impressed by anti-waterboarding showboating After year of investigation, Trump can rightly claim some vindication MORE's massive support network. By doing so, he has also attempted to frame himself as a Washington outsider, a fine line to walk for the son and brother of U.S. presidents.

What he didn't discuss on Monday was the latest controversy sparked by GOP presidential contender Donald TrumpDonald John TrumpThe Memo: Will Mueller play hardball with Trump? Mexican presidential candidate vows to fire back at Trump's 'offensive' tweets Elizabeth Warren urges grads to fight for 'what is decent' in current political climate MORE, which dominated headlines over the weekend. Bush immediately condemned Trump for saying that Sen. John McCainJohn Sidney McCainHow House Republicans scrambled the Russia probe The Hill's 12:30 Report The Hill's Morning Report - Sponsored by CVS Health - A pivotal day for House Republicans on immigration MORE (R-Ariz.) was not a war hero because he was captured during the Vietnam War, and his campaign released a new video Sunday panning Trump's "rhetoric of divisiveness."
 
But that's where it ended, and Bush steered clear of the topic during his domestic policy speech.

Instead, he accused Democrats of being the embodiment of the ills of Washington and attacked the Obama administration for missteps regarding the healthcare reform law's rollout, the Veterans Affairs Department, the IRS's handling of tax-exempt organizations, and the recent hack of the Office of Personnel Management.

"Name any excess or abuse in the federal government, and these past six years it has gotten worse," he said.  

"For anyone who wants to see a federal government even bigger, and even further removed from those it is supposed to serve, the other party will be offering that option," Bush added.

"As for me, I’m offering a different agenda altogether. It will not be my intention to preside over the establishment, but in every way I know to disrupt that establishment and make it accountable to the people."

 Updated at 12:29 p.m.