Norquist: Jeb Bush ‘foolish’ for saying Reagan was too moderate for today’s GOP


And we thought Bill Clinton and Newark Mayor Cory Booker were off message.

Jeb Bush is back in the news today for saying there’s no place in today’s radical Republican Party for former President Ronald Reagan, nor his own father, George H.W. Bush, who served as Reagan’s VP then was elected to succeed Reagan as president.

“They got a lot of things done with bipartisan support, but right now it’s just difficult to imagine,” Bush said in a round-table discussion with reporters and editors held by Bloomberg View here in New York.

“Ronald Reagan would have, based on his record of finding accommodation, finding some degree of common ground, similar to my dad, they would have had a hard time if you define the Republican Party — and I don’t — as having an orthodoxy that doesn’t allow for disagreement, doesn’t allow for finding some common ground.”

But no-new-taxes-ever pledge king Grover Norquist of who leads Americans For Tax Reform will have none of it.  

“That’s foolish,” Norquist told TPM in an interview. “It’s stup—it’s bizarre.”

But, of course, it’s not stup—or bizarre.  After massive tax cuts for the wealthy early in his presidency, Reagan raised taxes 11 times in subsequent legislative compromises with Congress.

And then there was the 1990 budget deal that Jeb’s father struck as president, which included tax increases in spite of his “read my lips, no new taxes” campaign pledge.

That deal angered many Republicans and is viewed as contributing to George Bush’s re-election loss in 1992, but Jeb Bush said “that created the spending restraint of the 1990s; more than anything else that was helpful in creating a climate for sustained economic growth.”

But here’s where Jeb Bush does say something truly bizarre: he blames the hyper-partisan state of affairs in Washington (and the GOP’s shift to the hard right) on Barack Obama.  Was he he was on vacation when all those high-profile Republicans vowed to deny him a second term:

Norquist: Jeb Bush 'foolish' for saying Reagan was too moderate for today's GOP