Jeb Bush proposes 'simple, fair and clear' tax code

Posted September 9, 2015
Updated September 10, 2015

— Republican presidential candidate Jeb Bush called Wednesday for a lower corporate tax rate and immediate tax deductions for business investments.

The former Florida governor also wants to cut personal income tax brackets from seven to three – 28, 25 and 10 percent.

"We need to jump-start our economy, and we can do that by fixing our broken tax code. It’s a disaster. We all know it," Bush said during an appearance before a few hundred supporters at Morris & Associates in Garner.

The company, which makes industrial icing equipment, such as chillers for poultry processors, would be among the small businesses to benefit from the tax reform proposals, Bush said, calling them "simple, fair and clear" and saying they would help the U.S. economy grow faster.

"My plan for the entire economy will create a true revival of the private sector and 19 million new jobs," he said. "My plan will help those who live on their paychecks and who haven’t seen a raise in a while, and it means the American dream will be possible for millions who have forgotten what it looks like."

Bush wants to reduce the corporate income tax from 35 percent – among the highest in the world – to 20 percent and give businesses the chance to deduct new capital investments immediately.

Bush said 15 million people would not pay any tax under his plan. He proposes doubling the standard deduction, eliminating the marriage penalty, expanding the Earned Income Tax Credit and ending the estate tax and Alternative Minimum Tax.

He wants to cap various deductions used by the wealthy and what he calls Washington special interests and would end the employee's share of the Social Security tax on earnings for workers 67 and older.

"Of all the terrible things that can be said about our tax code – and I can think of a few – the worst is probably this: It punishes people for doing things we should encourage and rewards people for doing things that may not be so good," he said. "The current tax code makes it easier to borrow than to build. I believe it’s time we build for the future, not borrow from it."

Bush, who trails in the polls nationally and in early primary states, has offered up several policy proposals in recent weeks to combat the bombastic campaign of front-runner Donald Trump. The billionaire businessman has lambasted Bush with a flurry of personal attacks.

Without naming Trump, Bush called for more thoughtful policy debate on the campaign trail.

"We have to fix these things. We can't just talk about it. We can't appeal to people's angst and their fears. We have to give them hope that we can fix these things," he said. "So, restoring some degree of civility is not a sign of weakness; it's a sign of strength and leadership."

North Carolina State University political science professor Andy Taylor said that, with the crowded GOP field of candidates, Bush has got to find a way to stand out.

"In a field of 17, you need to start to have these kinds of positions that people can identify you clearly with," Taylor said. "Voters are looking for people outside the political mainstream, and this is obviously a problem for Jeb Bush because he is quintessential political establishment."

Melodie Parrish, a former Durham County Republican Party chairwoman, said she was excited by Bush's tone as well as his ideas.

"It's very civil and introduces a willingness to work with everyone," Parrish said.

Meanwhile, Democrats called the plan "more trickle-down Bush economics."

"Bush is embracing a disastrous economic agenda that benefits himself, and those like himself, while leaving the middle class out to dry," said Holly Shulman, a spokeswoman for the Democratic National Committee.


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  • Jim Hugs Sep 11, 2015
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    Hopefully they'll let me write a check. I'm tired of having to pay my taxes in quarter coins.

  • Mark Neill Sep 10, 2015
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    A no-brainer suggestion. Estate taxes affect essentially no one most of us have in our immediate circle of friends. It's something limited almost exclusively to the top 5%, that they've convinced the other 95% is important to them, too.

    As of last year, the estate tax doesn't exist for any inheritances of less than $5.34 MILLION dollars.

    If you're passing on $5.34 million dollars, you're not a "working class" person.

  • Mark Neill Sep 10, 2015
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    "...a lower corporate tax rate..."

    Sure. Right after corporations actually start paying anything resembling the actual tax rate. The largest income companies pay nothing close to the current rate.

    "...cut personal income tax brackets from seven to three – 28, 25 and 10 percent....My plan for the entire economy will create a true revival of the private sector and 19 million new jobs,"

    Ah, yes, cut the top tax rates, and the money the top 10% saves will magically sprinkle down on the working class like manna from heaven and improve everyone's lives. We've been doing that for the last 30 years. Just how long are we supposed to wait for these mythical job creators to start creating jobs with all the money they don't pay in taxes and instead ship overseas?

  • Matt Wood Sep 10, 2015
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    Please explain to anyone how a flat sales tax would add any new taxpayers to the pool, considering illegal immigrants pay sales and payroll taxes (depending on their employer) already??? How about we close the loopholes that allow multi-million dollar corporations to pay ZERO taxes, first!

  • Mannin Black Sep 10, 2015
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    Eliminate payroll and income tax all together and put a national sales tax in place. With so many people cheating the system already, there is no escaping the tax at the register. Even illegal immigrants would be paying up! With the tax pool being increased to everyone, maybe the sales tax rate can be significant lower than the current rates. Now, I am far from capable of providing any details on how such a plan would work and how much of an impact it would have the economy but I think it is worth taking a look at.

  • Peter Kerstetter Sep 10, 2015
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    My taxes are already complicated enough thanks to politicians who try to simplify them. Please don't make matters any worse.
    Want to stimulate the economy? Lower payroll taxes.

  • Walter Smirth Sep 10, 2015
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    More voodoo economics that punishes workers and rewards corporations and their multi-million incomes for CEOs. All this will do is reward American corporations to move their business overseas where they will pay slave wages. And their income isn't taxed. Bush is #1 of contributions and he is going to be a servant of those donors.

  • Jay Tanenbaum Sep 10, 2015
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    As good as that sounds in theory, a 10% sales tax rate on someone making $25,000 is not the same as a 10% sales tax rate on someone making $100,000. Unfortunately it will automatically make it harder for lower wage earners to save and just survive.

  • Charlie Watkins Sep 10, 2015
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    Bush's new plan has been around for ages and has been hashed and rehashed more times than hash browns.

    Does any candidate have any new ideas?

  • Terry Lightfoot Sep 9, 2015
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    10% for all purchases ? Simple - right? There's no way to predict future spending and the mix of purchases by consumers. So - when consumer spending retreats in lean times, forget Medicaid, Medicare, Social security...not all consumers have 401K plans.
    A Federal tax, you mean like VAT tax in Europe? Laughable - how do all American companies report sales to this magical Federal agency? For reporting purposes and collection, All American companies send their sales via EDI to a central government computer database? Are you kidding me? Ohh it's the IRS collecting the Fed tax...good luck with that one.
    People who propose a flat tax are the most simple minded people around. I asked a relative and she said she wanted a flat tax...then I said...well what about the tax benefits of all that rental property that you own and operate in Boone NC? And will depend on for your coming retirement? She said nothing cause she had no answer. Simpleton.