Former Florida Governor Jeb Bush said he would strive to be like Lyndon Johnson, the Democrat famous for expanding the U.S. welfare state through the “Great Society,” if he were elected president.
According to the Miami Herald, Bush made those comments Wednesday night in San Antonio, Florida at Saint Leo University, while speaking about education, immigration, and energy policy.
Bush did not address Johnson’s Great Society and War on Poverty programs, about which Ronald Reagan once famously quipped, “We had a war on poverty, and poverty won.”
Instead, he was referencing Johnson’s mastery of the so-called sausage-making process in Congress.
He vowed to approach the presidency as “master of the Senate,” as biographer Robert Caro described Johnson.
“He went and he cajoled, he begged, he threatened, he loved, he hugged, he did what leaders do, which is they personally get engaged to make something happen,” Bush said of Johnson. Bush cited Caro’s latest book about Johnson, The Passage of Power, which covers the first part of Johnson’s presidency.
The wheeling and dealing Johnson loved and relished is what will be needed to pass bills such as immigration regulations. That process is also how government gets expanded and cronyism thrives, as Peter Schweizer’s nonpartisan Government Accountability Institute and directer Stephen K. Bannon documented in “Boomtown.”
Bush, who has a book on comprehensive immigration reform due out next month, said it was “un-American” to have illegal immigrants living in fear of exposure.
“To me — and I’m here at this great Catholic institution and this is what my church teaches me — it is completely un-American to require people living in the shadows,” he declared.