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“What’s The Price On Jeb Bush’s Integrity?”: Preaching Against The Corrupt Coziness Between Money Interests And Government Officials

If you are a presidential aspirant and you have to tell people that you are a person of integrity — there’s a very good chance that you are not.

And those odds at least quadruple if you have to hire a talking head to attest to your honor; how intriguing, then, that a spokeswoman for the Bush campaign was recently trotted out to tell us that, “Jeb’s record, both in office as Florida’s governor and in the private sector as a successful businessman, is one of integrity.” The testimonial from his paid mouthpiece was necessitated by the still-evolving news story that, after leaving the Florida governorship in 2007, he immediately cashed in on his name, state government knowledge, and contacts. Bush became a richly paid legislative consultant and board member to major corporations that had received lucrative benefits from Florida’s government while he was at the helm of it.

With cynical chutzpah, Jeb, the presidential wannabe, now campaigns as an ethics reformer, piously preaching against the corrupt coziness between money interests and government officials. But in the last eight years, Preacher Bush has pocketed at least $18 million in personal payment from his own quiet spins through the revolving door of government-corporate corruption. For example, Jeb was only out of government office for four months when he got a nice sinecure as a board member of the insurance giant, Tenet Healthcare (which just happened to run several of Florida’s private hospitals under Florida’s Medicare program). In 2006, Tenet was found to have cheated patients and taxpayers with more than a billion dollars in overcharges. To settle this malfeasance, the corporation paid only $7 million.

Meanwhile, Tenet has gushed in recent financial reports that it has “benefited greatly from Mr. Bush’s extensive background in government service, his perspectives on public policy and social issues.” In heartfelt gratitude, during the past eight years, this one corporation alone has put more than $2 million in Bush’s pocket.

The Tenet case clearly shows that Bush suffers from a total lack of integrity, but poor ‘ol Jeb seems to also have a terminal case of “Mitt Romney disease” — he just keeps blurting out asinine comments that reveal the fact that, in heart, soul, and political mindset, he is yet another “son of a Bush.”

His inner-bigotry against the poor, coupled with his cartoonish concept of the black community’s political motivation, was outed recently when he was asked how he planned to win the votes of African-Americans. “Our message is one of hope and aspiration,” he responded. Okay, Jeb, go positive, so far so good! But then the deep prejudice derived from his narrow upbringing as a child of privilege surfaced. His campaign message “isn’t one of division and get in line and we’ll take care of you with free stuff,” he asserted with a sneer. Then, to punctuate his little lecture on how to appeal to low-income black families, the multimillionaire heir to the Bush fortune said he would tell them: “You can achieve earned success.”

Yes, Jeb — instead of hard-hit people lining up to get what you call “free stuff” (like unemployment compensation and health care), thinks it better to challenge them to “earn” success. Tell them to have the same gumption you did — to be born to rich parents, to be welcomed as “legacy” applicants into the most prestigious schools, and to have their fathers open the doors for them to “achieve” financial and political success.

Yet the former “shoo-in” for the GOP presidential nomination can’t figure out why he’s running fifth in New Hampshire and fifth in Iowa, even after pouring millions into a month-long blitz of TV ads to goose up his appeal. Such shallowness, callousness, and condescension expose an ingrained contempt for all who don’t live in Bush’s elite zip code. No one but his fellow “one-percenters” wants someone like that in the White House.

 

By: Jim Hightower, The National Memo, November 4, 2015

November 5, 2015 Posted by | GOP Presidential Candidates, Jeb Bush, Lobbyists | , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

“Jeb Bush Didn’t Build That”: He Made His Money The Bush Way, By Trading On His Family Name

The article of the day is this detailed exploration of Jeb Bush’s complicated history in business by Robert O’Harrow and Tom Hamburger, which explores Bush’s talent for hooking up with people who turned out to be fraudsters and con artists and looks at how he became rich during the times when he wasn’t serving in public office. What does this history tell us about the kind of president Bush would be? We have to be careful about how we answer that question.

Bush likes to tout his experience in business as one of the reasons he’s well-qualified to be president, so the kind of experience he had is certainly worth examining. But as of yet, he hasn’t really shared the insights he gained about the economy that are unavailable to those who have not been so deeply involved in the world of commerce. And while it’s certainly interesting that he found his way to partner with multiple “dubious characters,” as the article describes them, there’s not much reason to believe that he was some kind of shady operator himself. But he did make his money the Bush way: by trading on his family name and the perception that because of who his father was (or later, because of who his brother was), he would have far-reaching influence that could help other people make money. For instance:

For a time, Bush also sat simultaneously on the boards of six corporations, including health industry giant Tenet Healthcare, earning as much as $3 million in fees and grants of stock, according to a Post analysis of financial documents. He also made more than 100 speeches at $50,000 or more per appearance, according to a New York Times report.

In June 2007, Bush signed on as an adviser to Lehman Brothers, the financial services giant. When Lehman was on the verge of collapse during the mortgage-meltdown crisis the next year, Richard S. Fuld Jr., Lehman’s beleaguered chief executive, asked Bush to use his cachet and reach out to Mexican billionaire Carlos Slim Helu, then the second-richest man in the world, the New York Times reported.

That effort failed. When the London-based Barclays bank bought Lehman’s North American operations, Bush moved to that firm as a senior financial consultant. He made $1 million a year, the Times said.

I’d be interested to hear the conservatives who are outraged by Hillary Clinton making millions in speaking fees explain how this kind of thing is completely different. After all, in both cases, people tossed large sums of money at the politician in question not because of his or her skills, but because of his or her identity. Again and again, companies found it in their interest to have Jeb Bush as a partner, consultant or board member, and it wasn’t for his technical expertise in their particular line of work. For instance, I’m pretty sure I know about as much about manufacturing prefabricated building panels for emergency housing as Bush did in 2007, i.e. nothing, but nobody’s offering to pay me $15,000 a month for “advice” on their prefabricated building panel business, as a company called InnoVida did for Bush.

That doesn’t make him a criminal. If a bunch of corporations wanted to put me on their boards, where I’d make millions for doing almost nothing, I might take them up on it, too. It’s only problematic if Bush thinks that experience has really taught him how the economy works.

I’ve long held that there are few more ridiculous characters in politics than the person who comes before the voters and says, “Vote for me, because I’m not a politician, I’m a businessman” (there are a couple of them running against Bush in the GOP primaries). It’s akin to someone saying, “I’m the person who can fix your leaky pipes, because I’m not a plumber, I’m a podiatrist.” Bush isn’t quite like those people, because he’s not offering his business experience as the sum total of his preparation for the presidency. But if he’s going to say that his business experience gives him a valuable perspective on matters economic that will produce different decisions than those other candidates make, let’s hear how.

As of yet, Bush hasn’t released a detailed economic plan. He has said that if he’s elected, he’ll have the economy growing at a consistent rate of 4 percent per year, which would make him far and away the most economically successful president in recent American history. In other words, at the moment his plan is essentially, “Elect me, and it’s puppies and rainbows for everyone.”

It’s possible that when he finally releases the details, Bush’s program will be so creative and transformative that it will blow everyone’s mind — and only a guy who had worked making deals for water pumps in Nigeria and real estate in Florida could have devised it. On the other hand, it might be pretty much what every other Republican advocates: cut taxes, cut regulations, await glorious new dawn of prosperity. I know which one I’m betting on.

 

By: Paul Waldman, Senior Writer, The American Prospect; Contributor, The Plum Line Blog, June 29, 2015

July 3, 2015 Posted by | Economic Policy, GOP Presidential Candidates, Jeb Bush | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

   

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