Complicating his effort are memories of the previous presidents Bush. His father, George H.W. Bush, lost his 1992 re-election as economic anxieties drove voters to independent Ross Perot and the eventual winner, Democrat Bill Clinton. His brother George W. Bush inherited a budget surplus from Clinton, cut taxes, then left office in 2009 amid a financial collapse and handed President Barack Obama a trillion-dollar budget deficit.
Now Jeb Bush is proposing a tax cut even larger than his brother's, one that would drop the top personal income tax rate to 28 percent, and the top corporate and capital gains rates to 20 percent. While critics warn of windfalls for the rich and swelling deficits, he insists it will spark both the economic growth and wage gains Americans have been yearning for.
"The corporate reform benefits everybody, all workers, because if you lower corporate rates, you're going to see an explosion of investment in their own country," he said. "We need to get to the 21st century industrial base. And I think a lower corporate tax rate will help get us there. "
And while top earners "do receive a benefit," he added, his plan overall would do "the opposite" of what critics claim.
"It provides tax relief for the middle class," he said. "Everybody freaks out about the deficit. And I worry about the structural deficit for sure. But if we grow our economy at a faster rate, the dynamic nature of tax policy will kick in."