MOUNT PLEASANT, S.C. -- Jeb Bush said here Thursday night that Republicans can win more African American voters by emphasizing a positive message that does not involve promising "free stuff" ...Establishment Republicans are afraid that Donald Trump and Ben Carson are alienating large percentages of an increasingly diverse American public? They think Jeb is the ticket to winning enough non-white voters to get the GOP back into the White House? Please proceed, folks.
"Look around this room," a man told Bush, who spoke to a mostly white crowd. "How many black faces do you see? How are you going to include them and get them to vote for you?" asked the man, who was white....
"Our message is one of hope and aspiration," he said at the East Cooper Republican Women’s Club annual Shrimp Dinner. "It isn't one of division and get in line and we'll take care of you with free stuff. Our message is one that is uplifting -- that says you can achieve earned success."
Savor the many ways that this is insulting to black people. It isn't just portraying blacks as parasites out to get "free stuff" -- it's asserting that those who acknowledge ongoing racial troubles in America are themselves the cause of "division"; it's portraying blacks as sheep who "get in line" when goodies are dangled before their eyes; and it's charging anyone who recognizes the necessity of a social safety net with rejecting the possibility of "achiev[ing] earned success" (because, apparently, if you believe that anyone needs help in America, by definition you believe that everyone is incapable of "earned success").
There's nothing extraordinary about this statement, of course. This is how every Republican in America talks about race. In fact, while I expect Jeb to walk this back, I suspect that his best move, if he wants to win the Republican nomination, would be to own it and double down. GOP voters will definitely give him second look if he reaffirms his belief that blacks on public assistance are leeches who've had the initiative knocked out of them by evil liberalism.
And, of course:
It's always the guys born on 3rd base talking about black people lining up for free stuff. https://t.co/d0MelBqsSK— John Legend (@johnlegend) September 25, 2015
Yeah, those guys do get a lot of taxpayer-funded free stuff, don't they?
And all this comes as Bush, in an interview with CNBC's John Harwood, defends a budget plan in which, as Jonathan Chait notes, "53 percent of the benefit of Bush’s tax cuts would accrue to the richest one percent, who earn about 21 percent of the national income." Bush's campaign slogan is "Right to Rise" -- and as Chait notes, Bush can't answer Harwood's question about how one particular Bush tax cut squares with that:
Harwood also asks, “How does eliminating the estate tax help anybody's right to rise? That tax only applies to people who have made it big time -- they've risen.” Bush’s reply is pretty amazing:Maybe it's the rich donors to Bush's campaign who are lining up for "free stuff" -- or at least a big return on investment.
Well, they're dead. If they've lived a good life, outside the money they've made, they're up in heaven looking down on us ...... And there is your most honest Bush answer of the interview. Giving a huge tax break to people who have inherited an estate exceeding $10 million (the current tax-free exemption level) has so little to do with the “Right to Rise” that Bush can’t even come up with a rationale. He just explains that he thinks they should be able to keep their entire inheritance tax-free because that is his idea of fairness.
What we've suggested is that a family asset doesn't get taken away. When someone does sell the asset -- the next generation -- they're paying on the full amount of the appreciation. That's the compromise position. And that allows for second-generation businesses to continue to flourish. People have earned this through good fortune and a lot of hard work and taking risks. I don't think you should take that away from families.