Jeb Bush has announced the formation of his new political action committee, the Right to Rise PAC, with a "What We Believe" statement. First sentence:
We believe passionately that the Right to Rise -- to move up the income ladder based on merit, hard work and earned success -- is the central moral promise of American economic life.So, what flavor notes are you picking up from that first sip? If you said "Paul Ryan, Mitt Romney, and the American Enterprise Institute," congratulations, you won.
As National Journal notes, Jeb got the phrase "right to rise" from a Paul Ryan speech:
Jeb Bush has borrowed the slogan underpinning his new political action committee -- the Right to Rise PAC -- from Rep. Paul Ryan, one of his potential 2016 presidential rivals, who first used the phrase to describe GOP ideas of growth and opportunity back in 2011.Ryan's speech (transcript here) is primarily a denunciation of "class warfare," which Ryan blames on Democrats' willingness to "exploit fear and envy" by floating such dastardly proposals as an increase in the capital gains tax. Jeb, in today's PAC statement, makes reference to "the broad middle class," but it's clear from the Wall Street Journal op-ed he wrote in the aftermath of Ryan's speech that what really motivates him is protecting our poor, suffering corporations from the horrors of regulation:
"Here in America -- unlike most places on Earth -- all citizens have the right to rise," Ryan declared in his speech at the Heritage Foundation in late 2011.
Bush was enamored almost immediately. "Congressman Paul Ryan recently coined a smart phrase to describe the core concept of economic freedom: 'The right to rise,'" Bush wrote in the opinion pages of The Wall Street Journal a couple of months later.
We talk about the right to free speech, the right to bear arms, the right to assembly. The right to rise doesn't seem like something we should have to protect.Yeah, this guy is going to be such a refreshing change from Mitt Romney if he's nominated.
But we do. We have to make it easier for people to do the things that allow them to rise. We have to let them compete. We need to let people fight for business. We need to let people take risks. We need to let people fail. We need to let people suffer the consequences of bad decisions. And we need to let people enjoy the fruits of good decisions, even good luck.
That is what economic freedom looks like....
Increasingly, we have let our elected officials abridge our own economic freedoms through the annual passage of thousands of laws and their associated regulations. We see human tragedy and we demand a regulation to prevent it. We see a criminal fraud and we demand more laws. We see an industry dying and we demand it be saved. Each time, we demand "Do something ... anything."
... Woe to the elected leader who fails to deliver a multipoint plan for economic success, driven by specific government action. "Trust in the dynamism of the market" is not a phrase in today's political lexicon.
Have we lost faith in the free-market system of entrepreneurial capitalism? Are we no longer willing to place our trust in the creative chaos unleashed by millions of people pursuing their own best economic interests?
And speaking of Romney, notice the reference to "merit" in Jeb's PAC statement. Mitt's a big fan of "merit," too. Here's Mitt using the word "merit" three times in six sentences in his 2012 Iowa caucus speech:
The president has a different view. Instead of seeing a merit society, an opportunity society, I think he takes his inspiration from the social welfare states of Europe. He wants to make us an entitlement society where government takes from some to give to others. The only people who do well in that setting are the people in the government who do the taking from one to give to the others.Always a pleasure to hear the sons of George Romney and George H.W. Bush invoking the glories of the meritocracy.
The right course for America is to remain a merit society, an opportunity nation.
The right course for America economically, personally, morally is for America to restore the principles that made us the shining city on the hill, our conviction that freedom is a gift of God, our recognition that America as a merit society where people, based upon their education, their -- their hard work, their risk-taking, their dreams can lift themselves and lift people around them and lift our entire nation.
Jeb, in his PAC statement, invokes "earned success." This is a favorite phrase of Arthur Brooks, president of the American Enterprise Institute. Here's a May 2012 Breitbart article about Brooks:
... Brooks said that Romney — and other Republicans running for office this cycle -- needed to couch all of the economic arguments they make in “the morality of the free market system, that everybody -- rich or poor -- deserves earned success.”Here's Brooks in October 2012, defending Romney's "47%" remarks in a Wall Street Journal op-ed:
[Romney] can counter that the Obama administration has proved itself more adroit at excuse-making and blame-shifting than creating opportunity, and that the administration seems ideologically incapable of pursuing the policies that fulfill the moral promise of earned success for all Americans.Here's a 2014 article by "AEI Scholar" James Pethokoukis:
What I know of Paul Ryan is this: Born in 1970, he was old enough to see and understand the amazing reversal of fortune that happened in the 1980s and 1990s when free enterprise and earned success was again valued and respected in America.As I've said, Jeb's PAC speech does go on to invoke the middle class. It claims an interest in outreach to all demographic groups. It invokes energy and education and defense. But I keep getting stuck on "earned success" and "merit," and on this:
We will celebrate success and risk-taking, protect liberty, cherish free enterprise....("Celebrate success"? That's what Mitt Romney said in his 2102 convention speech: “In America we celebrate success, we don’t apologize for success.”)
It's the same old thing from the GOP: entrepreneurs good, workers bad. Every CEO is better than every employee.
At this point, I'm actually hoping that we get another White House run from Rick Santorum. I don't agree with Santorum on much, but I like what he said (after the fact, unfortunately) in 2013 about the Romney campaign:
Rick Santorum ripped Mitt Romney’s campaign Thursday for mishandling President Barack Obama’s “you didn’t build that” gaffe last summer.Lesson not learned -- by Jeb, at least.
The former Pennsylvania senator recalled all the business owners who spoke at the Republican National Convention.
“One after another, they talked about the business they had built. But not a single -- not a single -- factory worker went out there,” Santorum told a few hundred conservative activists at an “after-hours session” of the Faith & Freedom Coalition conference in Washington. “Not a single janitor, waitress or person who worked in that company! We didn’t care about them. You know what? They built that company too! And we should have had them on that stage." ...
“When all you do is talk to people who are owners, talk to folks who are Type A’s who want to succeed economically, we’re talking to a very small group of people,” he said. “No wonder they don’t think we care about them. No wonder they don’t think we understand them. Folks, if we’re going to win, you just need to think about who you talk to in your life.”
... Santorum insisted that Republicans must “talk to the folks who are worried about the next paycheck,” not the CEOs.
“Our leaders don’t accurately reflect who we are,” he said. “They reflect the interest groups around here who are lobbying for an advantage. Everyone who is up here is wanting an edge for their company or their industry. We’ve got to get away from that.”