Several of the Republican presidential candidates addressed a Koch Freedom Partners event over the weekend. I caught a webcast of some of Ted Cruz and all of Jeb Bush being interviewed by Politico's Mike Allen.
I thought Mr. Bush was strongest in the sections of the appearance when he talked about the energy revolution and about health care.
The energy section came in response to a question about how to achieve 4 percent economic growth. Mr. Bush talked about how private property rights and private business had created the boom in hydraulic fracturing and horizontal drilling. He mentioned "George Mitchell," who I'm pretty sure he called "a Greek immigrant." In fact Mitchell was the son of a Greek immigrant. But it sets up a fine contrast between Washington insiders, who hear the name George Mitchell and think of the Senate Majority Leader, and middle American businessmen, who hear the name George Mitchell and think of the father of fracking. (Mr. Bush didn't draw that contrast, but he could.) Mr. Bush also talked about eliminating the oil export ban, expanding permitting for exploring and drilling on federal land, and expediting "LNG plant permitting." Mr. Bush — like all Bushes — has a tendency to avoid speaking in full sentences. And like Bob Dole (remember Landel Shakespeare?), he can sometimes speak in jargon interpretable only to a few, and impenetrable to everyone else. Why not say "liquefied natural gas" instead of LNG? But on the substance, it was a great answer.
The health care section came in response to a question about the Apple watch on Mr. Bush's wrist. Mr. Bush somehow pivoted to talk about how watches could be used for a consumer-driven health information technology system that rewards people for getting and staying healthy, along with an "FDA that's approving things at warp speed." Again, Mr. Bush didn't explain or spell out what the FDA was, but to leap from a question about the Apple watch to an answer about speeding FDA approval times was a pretty good indicator about the direction that Mr. Bush wanted to lead in.
Mr. Bush also offered some additional detail about his plans for tax reform. He said he would unveil in September proposals for lowering rates and eliminating deductions.
At the risk of sounding repetitive, Mr. Bush is weakest when he talks about immigration. This is ironic because he wrote a book about immigration, because he is married to an immigrant, and because he did well with the Hispanic vote in getting elected governor of Florida. But when Mr. Bush talks about ending the family-based immigration system that allows those already here to bring over adult parents and adult siblings in "chain migration," and instead moving to a system of economic-based immigration like Canada, he sounds like some Democrat touting the benefits of the Canadian single-payer health system. Even Mr. Bush caught himself when he started talking about stopping people from bringing grandma over, saying, "that sounds a little harsh." Ya think? If even Mr. Bush concedes it "sounds a little harsh," imagine how it is going to sound in a Democratic attack ad. And never mind the politics of it, even — do we really want an immigration system that forces a policy choice between family values and economic cost/benefits? It's a false dichotomy.