“We believe in free enterprise...We believe our economy can be more robust and therefore provide better opportunities for our citizens,” former president George W. Bush said during a rare public speech given on behalf of the George W. Bush Institute to the New York Historical Society.
The former president has explained that he has kept out of the limelight and avoided commenting on public policy since leaving office because he has been busy launching the Bush Institute, which he says is intended to have a “concrete effect,” Forbes' Steve Schaefer writes.
"The Bush Center’s 4% growth initiative is aimed at finding ways to achieve sustainable, annual growth of 4%, well ahead of the present rate, in large part by focusing on taxes," Schaefer adds.
The former commander-in-chief continued:
We believe that one of the clearest expressions of freedom is that the aggregate demand of the citizens determine that which is produced...We trust people when it comes to spending their money, and so should our government.
Watch excerpts from Bush’s address (via Forbes):
The president focused on America's current economic issues.
“Much of the public debate is about our balance sheet…or entitlements, the overhang is daunting,” Bush said.
However, unlike the current administration, the former commander-in-chief claims the best solution for America’s fiscal woes is to grow the private sector as opposed to the public sector. Growing the public sector is easy: “just raise taxes,” Bush joked.
“If the goal was public sector growth, it’d be a short conference,” Bush said. “We believe that the best policy is that which creates a robust private sector.”
The former president addressed president Barack Obama’s oft-repeated call to raise taxes so that everyone "pays their fair share."
“If you raise taxes on the so-called rich, you’re really raising taxes on the job creators,” Bush said. “If the goal is private sector growth, you’ve got to recognize that the best way to achieve that growth is to leave capital in the treasuries of the job creators.”
“I wish they weren’t called the Bush tax cuts,” the former president said as an aside. “If they were called some other body’s tax cuts, they're probably less likely to be raised.”
"But if you raise taxes, you're taking money out of the pockets of consumers," he added. "And it’s important for policymakers to recognize that all the doubt about taxes causes capital to stay on the sidelines. Uncertainty means capital (fuel for private sector growth) simply won’t move."
In regards to this last point: he’s right. U.S. business owners cite the tax code and the uncertainty that comes with it as one of the main reasons they choose to move their business out of the U.S., according to a recent Harvard Business School study: