While Jeb Bush frequently is touted as both a two-term governor and a successful businessman, his often dubious record as an entrepreneur and investor has been widely documented over the past three decades.
The 62-year-old scion of a powerful political family and now an announced candidate for the 2016 GOP presidential nomination was involved in a myriad business ventures dating back to the mid-1980s, The Washington Post noted on Monday in the latest media examination of Bush’s entrepreneurial exploits as he tried to amass his fortune.
Bush brokered numerous real estate deals in Miami, helped to arrange bank loans in Venezuela, marketed shoes in Panama, sought out Mexican investors for a building-materials company, advised transnational financial services firms — you name it. He also made a boatload of money by sitting on a handful of corporate boards. And ever since he left the Florida governor’s office in 2007, Bush — like Democrat Hillary Clinton — has raked in substantial income by giving speeches while also consulting and managing investments for others.
“Jeb Bush had a successful career in commercial real estate and business before serving as Florida’s governor,” Kristy Campbell, a spokeswoman for Bush, told the Post. “He has always operated with the highest level of integrity throughout his business career.”
And yet the Post’s lengthy review of Bush’s business career — culled from records, lawsuits, interviews and newspapers accounts dating back more than 30 years — reveals a picture of a young man on the make who “often benefited from his family connections and repeatedly put himself in situations that raised questions about his judgement and exposed him to reputational risks.”
Five of Bush’s former business associates have been convicted of crimes; one remains an international fugitive on fraud charges. Bush has disavowed any knowledge of the wrongdoing and conceded that some of the businessmen he met in Florida took advantage of his relative youth and naiveté.
One thing that comes through loud and clear in the Post report is that Jeb Bush had no compunction about trading on his family name in trying to make a buck.
Major case in point: In early 1989, seven weeks after his father, George H.W. Bush, took office as president, Jeb Bush took a trip to Nigeria with the executive of a Florida company called Moving Water Industries. Bush had just been hired to help market the firm’s water pumps.
With no less than a special escort from the U.S. ambassador to Nigeria, Bush and his new boss met with the nation’s political and religious leaders as part of the company’s effort to land a deal that would be worth $80 million.
“My father is the president of the United States, duly elected by people that have an interest in improving ties everywhere,” the young Bush told the group. “The fact that you have done this today is something I will report back to him very quickly when I get back to the United States.”
Just days after Bush returned to the U.S., his father sent the president of Nigeria a handwritten note thanking him for hosting his son. Not surprisingly, Moving Water Industries eventually landed the deals it was seeking, according to the Post.
At an event in Kentucky to discuss tax reform, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin insisted Monday that Congress will raise the debt ceiling by late next month, in time for the U.S. to avoid a default that could roil the global economy and markets.
The key quotes, per Roll Call:
McConnell: "There is zero chance — no chance — we won't raise the debt ceiling. No chance. America's not going to default. And we'll get the job done in conjunction with the secretary of the Treasury."
Mnuchin: “We’re going to get the debt ceiling passed. I think that everybody understands this is not a Republican issue, this is not a Democrat issue. We need to be able to pay our debts. This is about having a clean debt ceiling so that we can maintain the best credit, the reserve currency, and be focused on what we should be focusing on — so many other really important issues for the economy.”
Mnuchin reiterated his “strong preference” for a “clean” increase to the debt limit — one without other policy proposals or spending cuts attached to it — but some House conservatives continue to press for such cuts.
Bonus McConnell quote on what tax breaks might be eliminated in tax reform: “I think there are only two things that the American people think are actually in the Constitution: The charitable deduction and the home mortgage interest deduction. So, if you’re worried about those two, you can breathe easy. For all the rest of you, there’s no point in doing tax reform unless we look at all of these preferences, and carried interest would be among them.”
In an interview with USA Today, Secret Service Director Randolph "Tex" Alles said the agency is bumping up against federally mandated salary and overtime caps in executing its mission to protect the president and his family.
USA Today’s Kevin Johnson notes that 42 people in the Trump administration have Secret Service protection, including 18 of the president’s family members. Under President Obama, 31 people had such protection.
“The compensation crunch is so serious that the director has begun discussions with key lawmakers to raise the combined salary and overtime cap for agents, from $160,000 per year to $187,000 for at least the duration of Trump's first term,” Johnson reported.
In a statement, Alles said the agency has the funding it needs for the rest of the fiscal year, which runs through Sept. 30, but estimated that 1,100 employees run into statutory pay caps as a result of overtime work during this calendar year.
“This issue is not one that can be attributed to the current Administration’s protection requirements alone, but rather has been an ongoing issue for nearly a decade due to an overall increase in operational tempo," Alles said in the statement.
Despite all the thorny questions swirling around President Trump's nascent tax reform plan, 29 of 38 economists surveyed by Bloomberg in a monthly poll said they expect Congress to cut taxes by November of next year.
The hitch: The economists don’t expect the cuts will help the economy much. The median projection of a larger group of 71 economists is for 2018 growth of 2.3 percent, up only slightly from 2.1 percent this year — and by 2019, the economists see growth slipping back to 2 percent.