GARNER – This afternoon, Republican presidential candidate Jeb Bush presented his plan to revive the nation’s job market and simplify the tax code for businesses and families. Promising an economic environment that will generate 9 million new jobs, Bush said he would bring back some of the Reagan-era tax cuts and incentives for investment in American businesses.
“This plan will bring tax revenue and high-wage jobs back to America where they belong,” Bush said. “It’s Washington that is holding us back. Giving bureaucrats more power over the economy is only going to make it worse. The way we bring jobs back to America is to take power out of Washington, give it back to the American people. Through hard work, ingenuity, and know how, we will compete with the world and we will win. Secretary Clinton and Mr. Trump may not believe we can do it, but I do.”
Morris & Associates in Garner became the center of national media attention today for Bush’s speech. A manufacturer of commercial cooling equipment, the company employs more than 1,000 people, many of whom took the stage with him or leaned over railings around the plant to listen. Bush took the opportunity to talk about improving tax options for families and retirees. Pledging to submit to Congress and sign into law the Reform and Growth Act of 2017, Bush outlined his proposed tax code changes:
- Reduce the tax brackets from seven to three – 10, 25 and 28 percent
- Double the standard deduction, helping more low-income filers avoid federal income tax entirely
- eliminate the Alternative Minimum Tax
- eliminate the worker’s share of Social Security tax for seniors
- eliminate the inheritance tax
- eliminate the 3.8 percent savings tax
- expand and reform the Earned Income Tax Credit
- limit the amount of deductions for high earners, other than charitable contributions
- cut tax rates on capital gains to 20 percent
“I came to hear what he had to say as an undecided voter,” said Lee Teague, a consultant who has worked for Republican candidates. “Its a good plan, if you’re a conservative, you’re going to like it… I think that it’s stuff that should’ve been done a long time ago and I’m glad he’s willing to push it.”
Welders at the facility, who were serving as parking attendants for the day, said there were significantly more people on hand than they had planned for, but the crowd was well managed and receptive. In questions answered after his speech, Bush said he was against the Iran nuclear deal, and said the disagreement around it indicates President Obama’s refusal to work with those who disagree with him.
“I don’t believe that liberals have bad motives, I just think they’re wrong,” he said to applause. “We have to assume that people of good will can forge consensus. The 1986 Tax Act – which is the last big tax reform that took place – we saw enormous amounts of deductions eliminated, rates dropped in a way that created sustained economic growth, where more people had the chance to rise up… in that case it required bipartisan support.”
On hand for the speech were several Republican members of the N.C. House. Rep. Charles Jeter (R-Mecklenburg), co-chair of Bush’s state Steering Committee, says that he’s supporting the former Florida governor because of his track record in the Sunshine State.
“We have to look for a president who is experienced and ready to lead. Look what he did in Florida. This is a man who cut taxes every year that he was there and still added a net 1.3 million new jobs, all without an income tax,” said Jeter. “He’s talking about a tax plan where if you are a family of four earning less than $40,000, you’ll pay no federal income tax. So he’s talking about really helping our middle class.”
From Garner, Bush is expected to hit more states with the economic message, and then go onto Simi Valley, Calif. for the Republican Presidential Primary debate on September 16.
“When I go on that stage in California next week, there is no one that compares with me in my record of accomplishment as a conservative, reform-minded governor. I’m proud of that. But I also know we have to fix these things, we can’t just talk about it. We can’t pray on people’s angst and fears. We have to give them hope that we can fix these things. Restoring some civility to the process is not a sign of weakness. It’s a sign of strength and leadership.”
North Carolina is also on the itineraries of the other 16 presidential candidates as the primary nears. State legislation to bump up North Carolina’s presidential primary to March 15 passed the Senate earlier this year, but was sent back to committee by the House which says it is discussing amendments that would move all primaries to March, avoiding the cost and voter inconvenience of holding two separate voting days.
There are concerns that if all primaries are held on the same day as the high-profile Republican primary, advertising rates across the state could skyrocket and candidates for local races might get squeezed out of the limelight. Lawmakers say they are working on finding a balance between the cost of two primary dates and accessibility for smaller campaigns.
In the meantime, the state’s importance in the race is growing and Republican presidential candidates will likely be stumping across the state throughout this year, asking for North Carolina’s vote.