Ralph Benko and Jeb Bush’s 4 Percent Solution

Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush (photo credit: Gage Skidmore)
Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush (photo credit: Gage Skidmore)

Ralph Benko is a regular contributor to Forbes.com and a sometime contributor to The Pulse 2016.  Always insightful, Ralph has a nice piece in Forbes this week, “Rand Paul, Jeb Bush, Throw the 2016 Presidential Race Into Overdrive And Paul Krugman Protests.”

Having in mind Rand Paul’s unveiling of a bold, pro-growth tax plan, and Jeb Bush’s announcement of candidacy at which he promised to deliver four percent economic growth, Ralph takes note of the economic policy ferment on the Republican side – which is responsive to real concerns of real voters – and declares “the issue, at last, is joined. Conservative economic principles are an enormous electoral asset.”

Ralph, of course, is correct in his analysis, and there is actually some fear Paul Krugman’s brain is going to explode before the race is over, but I think he gives Jeb Bush too much credit.  In his announcing that there is no reason we can’t have four percent growth, Bush did not then go on to diagnose why the economy is so underperforming, nor did he outline policies which will deliver such robust growth.  He offered no narrative to woo the voters.

Bush is essentially saying “trust me to do the right thing, I’m the smartest guy in the room,” akin to Rick Perry saying at his announcement, “To those forgotten Americans drowning in personal debt, working harder for wages that don’t keep up with the rising cost of living … I hear you.  I hear you and I ‘m going to do something about it.”  Well, what exactly?  Wasn’t this essentially Romney’s pitch; “I’ll know good economic policy when I see it”?

Glenn Hubbard and Kevin Warsh – reputed to be Bush’s economic gurus – got slightly more specific their June 21 WSJ op-ed:

The underperformance of the economy in recent years should cause policy makers to revisit their failed prescriptions for higher economic growth. A fundamentally new set of economic policies should be enacted to give growth a chance.

Such as?

  • Fundamental tax reform that is directed at increasing the incentives for work and driving investment in productive assets;
  • Real regulatory reform that firmly and consistently recognizes, measures and balances economic benefits and costs;
  • Tax and regulatory reform can make the United States the preferred destination for work and investment.
  • Trade policies must continue to break down non-tariff barriers to open global markets.

And my personal favorite, “resetting long-run expectations of potential for every individual, household and business.”  What?

Ralph, I think Chris Christie and Marco Rubio deserve mention for their more substantive contributions to the debate.  But you are right: the issue is joined.  Ted Cruz, the ball’s in your court.

Steve Wagner is the founder and president of QEV Analytics, a Washington DC-based public opinion research firm.