Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, a potential 2016 presidential candidate, said the Obama administration should not be negotiating with Iran at all, calling the framework for a nuclear agreement “horrific.”
Bush also said the U.S. has to fix its broken immigration system to grow the economy.
“This is not in the national security interest of our country for all sorts of reasons. So, this is democracy at work. The option I think is no congressional oversight at all, no congressional engagement at all, which would be worse than having some engagement. I think Republicans need to be on record opposing whatever happens if there is to be an agreement and doing it in a principled way that sets the stage for what the next president can do as it relates to changing whatever the outcome is,” he said at the National Review’s Ideas Summit in Washington.
“The reason why this is a bad deal is Iran hasn’t recognized Israel and its right to be a Jewish state. Iran has destabilized the region that we’re now engaged in. Iran has missile capability to take their weaponry far into the region,” he said. “Iran is building a defense weapons capability that is apparently as good as what we have, the Russians’ top-notch technology and we’re going to give up the leverage that we have if they have that defense system and the other leverage of sanctions, and so the net result of this is you’re likely to have proliferation in the region.”
Bush said the nuclear agreement would likely result in an “emboldened Iran, not a humble Iran,” which would threaten Israel.
“So I think this is a horrific deal. I can’t conjecture on what happens, but it looks as though as the negotiations unfold we’re pulling back, making more and more concessions, Iran is not making any and maybe they overstepped their bounds. Perhaps there’s not going to be an agreement at all because they don’t really need one, if you think about it. They can get almost anything they want without it,” he said.
“I think the better way of looking at this is we shouldn’t be negotiating at all. We shouldn’t have started unless we were sincere about maintaining the objectives when the president started, and today he’s abandoned those,” Bush added.
Vice President Joe Biden recently stressed the importance of reaching an agreement with Iran.
“We know the cost of not negotiating. Midway through the last administration, the U.S. government refused to directly engage. It insisted at the same time that Iran dismantle its entire program. The result – by the time President Bush left office, Iran had dramatically advanced its movement toward the ability to acquire a nuclear weapon,” Biden said. “We’ve taken a different approach, combining unprecedented pressure and direct diplomacy to find an enduring solution. Negotiations began and have come a long way.”
Bush also commented on the riots in Baltimore during the discussion, which was moderated by National Review editor Rich Lowry.
“It’s important to reflect on the fact that a young man died and that’s a tragedy for his family and this is not just a statistic. This is a person who died. Secondly, there were a lot of people who lost their livelihoods because of this and I think we need to be respectful of private property. And I think in the beginning, allowing the riots to kind of happen, was disturbing. You can’t just push over that and go to the grand societal problems,” Bush said. “I do think that public safety is the first priority for any city or any government jurisdiction. In this case, there are a lot of people who are going to suffer because of what happened and hopefully order is going to be restored.”
He said the Baltimore Orioles sent the wrong signal by closing the stadium to the public.
“I think we need to recognize that life doesn’t just get paralyzed when these tragedies occur. You can’t allow that to happen because it actually might create more of them,” he said. “I do think the tendency, particularly on the left, is to create a set of reasons why this happens.”
Bush said President Obama’s reaction to the situation started well when he mentioned the decline of families in urban core America.
“I think that is absolutely true, but there’s much broader issues that go along with this,” he said.
Bush argued that conservatives have a better approach to dealing with poverty.
“His [Obama’s] approach is to say conservatives haven’t offered up enough money to give me to be able to create programs to let people be successful. Well, at what point – do we go past $10 trillion? A trillion a year? At what point do you have to conclude that the top-down-driven poverty programs have failed?” he said. “We need to be engaged in this debate as conservatives and say that there’s a bottom-up approach and it starts with building capacity so people can achieve earned success.”
Bush was straightforward about his opposition to signing the no-tax-increases pledge.
“I cut taxes every year, $19 billion, no one comes close to that record of tax cuts,” he said. “I don’t have to be told how important that is; I did it. I think that’s a better approach.”
Lowry asked Bush if he agreed with Gov. Scott Walker (R-Wis.), who said his No. 1 priority is protecting American workers and their wages as part of immigration reform.
“I don’t think it’s a zero sum game. I think if we start thinking it’s a zero sum game, we’re going to play the game that Barack Obama plays oh so well. It’s the wrong approach. We have 3-5 million jobs unfilled that require skills in America today. Think of had we fixed our immigration reform in a way that I would propose it, how much extra job growth and investment would have happened in our country that would have provided opportunities for higher wages for people struggling near or at the bottom or people in the middle,” Bush said.
“This is not a zero sum game. If you want to grow at 4 percent per year instead of 2 percent per year, you need more young dynamic people outside of our economy that are productive to get to 4 percent growth. You can’t do it by a declining population and you can’t do it with pathetic productivity growth. You have to have both,” he added.
PJ Media asked Bush how he would distinguish himself from the other presidential candidates, like Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), on immigration reform.
“I’m going to say what I believe,” Bush replied.
When asked again what makes him different from Rubio on immigration, Bush replied, “I don’t know.”