Jeb Bush- Tampa, Florida Speech: Analysis

On November 2, 2015, former Republican presidential candidate Jeb Bush held a rally in Tampa, Florida, to kick off his “Jeb Can Fix It” Tour.  Bush returned to the state of Florida, where he served as governor from 1999-2007, and took the stage to talk about many issues that he was determined to tackle if he ever became president and how he would reverse many of the decisions that President Obama has made during his time in office.


One of the first issues that Bush talks about is the lack of jobs and its contribution to rising levels of poverty. Bush states that “one in ten able- bodied Americans cannot find full- time work,” or ten percent. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, however, the current rate holds at about five percent, and has not been close to ten percent since 2010 and 2011. The numbers back then averaged at about 9.5-9.9%.

The unemployment rate has been on the decline since 2011. (Courtesy: Bureau of Labor Statistics)

The unemployment rate has been on the decline since 2011. (Courtesy: Bureau of Labor Statistics)

Bush promptly follows this statistic with another, saying that “one in seven Americans live in poverty.” Unlike the previous one, this statistic is accurate. Feeding America states that in 2014, the poverty rate was 14.8%, which is around one out seven Americans.

After this, Bush says that “one in five children are on food stamps” which is also correct, based on numbers from the Census Bureau. In 2014, it was reported that about 16 million children received food stamp assistance. The amount nearly doubled from 2007, when it was reported that roughly 9 million children received food stamps.

The Economy

Bush then shifts his speech to Obama and talks specifically about the president’s so- called hand in raising taxes and raising the national debt. First, Bush starts of by saying that “Barack Obama has given us $2 trillion of new taxes…” This statement is referring to ObamaCare and how this new health care law will have an effect on raising taxes. Bush’s statement is over exaggerated, according to Politifact. The website states that ObamaCare is expected to bring a little more than $1 trillion in a span of ten years.

Bush also mentions that Obama “managed to grow the national debt by$8 trillion.” Technically, this statement is correct. According to the Washington Post, the debt stood at $10.6 trillion when Obama took office in January of 2009,  As of January 2015, the debt was at $18 trillion. By simple math, Bush is correct. However, due to the already existing fragile state of the economy during the time Obama took office, the blame is not all on Obama’s shoulders.

This chart shows the growth of the national debt, which increased dramatically as soon as Obama took office. This increase can be traced back to the actions of George W. Bush's presidency. (Washington Post Courtesy)

This chart shows the growth of the national debt, which increased dramatically as soon as Obama took office. This increase can be traced back to the actions of George W. Bush’s presidency. (Washington Post Courtesy)

Foreign Affairs

Continuing his criticism on Obama, Bush shifts his speech to Obama’s way of handling foreign affairs, specifically on the Iran Deal that was made official earlier this year. Bush is vocally against the deal, saying that it “gives legitimacy to Tehran and does nothing to curb Iran’s nuclear ambitions.”

However, the Iran Deal is Obama’s way of ensuring that Iran does not get its hands on a nuclear weapon. According to an article released by the White House, the deal includes sanctions that will limit Iran’s resources to make a bomb and elongate the time it takes to acquire these resources.

The Iran Deal's effect is generally explained. (White House Courtesy)

The Iran Deal’s effect is generally explained. (White House Courtesy)

Whether the Iran Deal will be successful or not can only be told in time, but Bush’s statement on Obama not doing anything to curb Iran’s nuclear ambitions is not very accurate.

Military Spending

Bush says that under the Obama administration, there were “historic cuts to our military.” According to Politifact, military spending (which includes spending on the Pentagon) actually increased in 2010 and 2011, but has declined for four years after that with a cumulative drop of 15%.

These drops were the result of Obama pulling troops from Afghanistan and Iraq and the sequestration, which refers to the automatic cuts that can potentially be made to military and non- military spending if a bipartisan deal was not reached. Negotiations fell through at first, and the cuts went into effect. However, a deal was eventually made and spending increased six percent.

Compared to his predecessors, Obama did not have to deal with a major war on his hands, thus finding no reason to spend so much on military spending. When it comes down to it, Bush is correct that bigger cuts were made, but the context of Obama’s presidency looked different than those in the past.

Bush’s Impact on Florida

Like his other speeches, Bush seems to always revisit his accomplishments as the mayor of Florida in order to show his potential. One such accomplishment that he usually mentions and that he said at this rally is that Florida “led the nation in small business and job creation.”

Indeed, many jobs were created during 1999-2007, but in an article by the Washington Post, much of these jobs were “low paid service industry jobs” with no health insurance. If one measures it by job creation during Bush’s mayor term, Florida still fell short of first place, instead placing fifth. Nevada led the pact in that category, with a 34.6% gain compared to Florida’s 19.8%. When it comes to total jobs counts, Florida still placed second behind California, with only 1.33 million jobs created as opposed to California’s 1.48 million jobs.

For the most part, Jeb Bush seemed to over exaggerate much of his claims, but a few of them were accurate to a fault. Bush has since dropped out of the presidential race after he failed to gain a large support group compared to his opponents.


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