Republican Presidential candidate Jeb Bush unveiled his economic plan Wednesday at a Garner manufacturing facility he described as the kind of business that would benefit from his policies.
Speaking from a cavernous shop room, Bush laid out his plan for lower corporate taxes and a simplified tax code that would let ordinary citizens fill out their own tax forms.
When asked if his plan will benefit the wealthy, as critics have alleged, Bush said that under his leadership about 15 million families would pay zero income tax, and top earners would bear a greater tax burden than the middle class.
“This plan moves money out of the hands of the politicians in Washington, and gives it back to hard-working Americans like you who will use the money they save for their own priorities, not the government’s,” he said. “The argument from the Left is that you’re taking money away from the government, but if you create a stifling effect, the effect is that people won’t work.”
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The centerpiece of Bush’s plan would cut the corporate tax rate to 20 percent from 35 percent. Bush called the current corporate tax rate the highest in the world, although many U.S. businesses reduce their rate below Bush’s proposed 20 percent through a variety of exemptions.
Bush also introduced his plan in an op-ed piece in Wednesday’s The Wall Street Journal. If approved by Congress, the plan also would slash the personal income tax from a top bracket of 39.6 percent to 28 percent.
A former governor of Florida, Bush is also the brother and son of two past Republican U.S. Presidents. He is making a campaign swing through North Carolina, a state closely contested in past White House races and where Bush already has a presidential campaign team in place.
A jacket-less Bush made his stump speech before about 300 people seated on folding chairs on a concrete floor at Morris & Associates, an industrial equipment maker about eight miles south of Raleigh. The 117-employee company makes chilling equipment and industrial ice makers for food preparation and other industries globally.
Peppering his speech with references to former President Ronald Reagan, Bush said his plan would allow businesses to fully and immediately deduct capital investments in new equipment, such as the steel machinery surrounding the GOP candidate on the Morris & Associates manufacturing floor.
After Bush’s stump speech, the company’s vice president of operations, Ron Correia, said it now takes seven years to fully depreciate investments in equipment, and an immediate deduction would be welcome. Correia said he found Bush’s speech noteworthy for its absence of fiery denunciations, noting that Bush said liberals are mistaken but not malevolent.
“I definitely liked that he was talking ideas and not attacking people,” Correia said.
Morris & Associates CEO Bill Morris III said he met Bush at a fundraiser in Wilmington and agreed to host the campaign appearance in part because he regards Bush as a serious contender for the White House. Bush is trying to stand out in a crowded GOP field that includes U.S. Senator Ted Cruz, U.S. Senator Marco Rubio, real estate mogul Donald Trump, retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson and Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker, among others.
Bush’s plan would end the practice of taxing U.S. businesses abroad, a policy long sought by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and many top corporate executives. It would also eliminate many corporate and personal tax exemptions, while nearly doubling the standard deduction and doubling the deduction for charitable contributions.
The race for the Republican nomination for president has been upended in recent months by Trump’s surprising rise in the polls against established politicians. Last month, Trump went on the offensive against wealthy hedge fund managers who pay lower taxes on investment profits than some people pay on income tax. On Wednesday, Bush struck a similar populist note in his appeal to simplify the tax code.
“The new normal is a comfortable ride for affluent people living on their portfolios,” Bush said.
“My plan will help those who live on their paychecks and who haven’t seen a raise in a while,” he said. “And it means the American dream will be possible for millions who have forgotten what it looks like.”