Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush (R) on Monday laid out his plan for how he’ll overhaul federal-government spending if he’s elected president.
In a speech on Monday in Florida, the Republican presidential candidate unveiled his plan for “disrupting” Washington by downsizing the federal government.
Bush’s plan takes aim at the federal budget. He proposes cutting the number of federal employees by at least 10% and radically overhauling the budget process to require a balanced budget, a controversial prescription popular with the conservative base.
“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,” Bush said.
Bush is calling his reform effort “Mount Washington,” a reference to “Mount Tallahassee,” the disparaging nickname given to Florida’s state government for being far removed and inaccessible to the people.
Here are the reforms that Bush outlined in his speech:
- Balanced budget amendment. Bush says that he will push for a constitutional amendment that would require the federal government to balance its budget every year. The idea has been gaining steam in conservative circles for some time, though it seems difficult to achieve considering opposition in blue states.
- Line-item veto. Bush supports a line-item veto like the one sponsored by Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wisconsin). According to The Washington Post, Ryan’s 2012 line-item veto bill proposed granting the president the ability to send budget items that he or she dislikes back to Congress for an amendment-free up or down vote. Proponents believe that this will allow the president to cut wasteful spending, while critics note that Ryan’s plan reduces the deficit, instead of allowing the money saved to go back into the pot. President Bill Clinton briefly enjoyed a line-item budget veto, but it was ruled unconstitutional by the Supreme Court.
- Federal employee hiring freeze. Bush says that he will institute a policy of hiring one employee for every three who leave when it comes to federal hiring, with the exception of national-security related jobs. Bush suggested that federal agencies shouldn’t replace many workers who retire — according to the governor, 10% of the federal workforce will retire within the next five years, and “not everyone who leaves has to be replaced.”
- Merit pay. Bush claims too many mediocre federal employees are being paid the same as exemplary employees. Though he didn’t delve too far into specifics on this point, the former Florida governor said that he’ll make it easier to fire bad federal employees.
- Dock congressional pay. Bush suggests that members of Congress who don’t show up for votes or committee hearings should have their pay docked. This could be seen as a slight dig at some of his primary rivals — Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Florida) has missed more votes than any other senator. Many members have to juggle intense fundraising schedules in addition to their official congressional duties. The Huffington Post reported in 2013 that Democratic freshmen members were advised to spend four hours a day fundraising.
- Budget procurement reform. Bush says that he supports a procurement reform plan by Sen. John McCain (R-Arizona). It would reduce the Secretary of Defence’s power to dictate military acquisitions, and would change defence contracts to reduce incentives for contractors to not meet deadlines, which results in cost overruns.
- Get rid of “baseline budgeting.” Bush would no longer measure spending cuts based on last year’s budget.
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