Jeb Bush on Florida's Intention to File Suit

This is a rush transcript from "Your World With Neil Cavuto," March 22, 2010. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

NEIL CAVUTO, ANCHOR: Welcome, everybody, from Washington. I'm Neil Cavuto. I'm just not leaving this town. I mean, every time we try to, something big breaks. And this health care thing just won't stop. And they just keep regurgitating some other big news developments, so we can't leave.

So, we're kind of like guests who won't leave. We're at your house in the middle of the night. We're ordering pay-per-view after you have long gone to sleep, and we're raiding your refrigerator. And we're still here.

But, in all seriousness, we're still here because there are still very big, even stunning, developments right now on the health care vote that shook this town to its core, amid indications the president is set for a big shindig to celebrate it tomorrow at the White House, the Rose Garden, weather permitting. And that's as big if, because, today, we are indoors because weather is not permitting, but a Rose Garden ceremony planned tomorrow, with the president and all the key architects of this health care legislation for a signing. And it would be a signing, technically, of the Senate bill that the House approved, thereby kicking in the so-called reconciliation process and debate process for the next bill. That is a separate drama.

But I don't want to bore you with that. Suffice it to say, that's a later-week event. Right now, the big event is what's happening since that vote late last night, and all the big leaders of all the big states, the A.G.s who are now saying, wait a minute, you went too far, Florida's attorney general among them, saying, you know what? We are going to sue. We're suing you, Congress.

He's got 10 other attorneys general joining in the fight. More could follow. Effectively, what they're doing here is suing the Congress of the United States for usurping its responsibilities and actually violating the Constitution.

It would be an unusual and, to put it mildly, Herculean struggle to take a law that Congress has agreed and the president is supposed to sign off on and fight its very constitutionality all the way, potentially, to the Supreme Court.

Again, Florida's attorney general leading that cause. He has the backing of Marco Rubio, who is the front-running candidate for the Senate seat in that state.

But — but the sitting governor in that state is not for this, Charlie Crist saying that he thinks this route of appealing via an A.G. lawsuit is not the way to go. So, you have a split in Florida.

And any time we think of Florida, any time we think of that state and what it's doing, and hearken back to 2000, and remember what happened then, we always think of a certain former governor who many Republicans look to as a potential presidential standard-bearer. Who knows.

But Jeb Bush, the former governor of that fine state, joins us now, exclusively

Governor, very good to have you.

JEB BUSH R-FORMER FLA. GOVERNOR: Thank you, Neil. It's good to be in your beautiful studio.

CAVUTO: It is. I — you know, I was planning to be there with you. And I really regret that.


CAVUTO: But I'm still caught — I'm still caught here.

Governor, your quick take on what the Florida attorney general is doing?

BUSH: Well, I have read the letter that he sent explaining his position that — his belief — and apparently many other attorneys general agree — that there's a serious constitutional issue that needs to be worked out, and he intends to let the courts decide this.

And I think it made — made a lot of sense. I'm not a lawyer, but I do that they're — that this is a major overreach. Certainly, in the policy arena, it's a major overreach, but it also could easily be an overreach in terms of the law.

And I think people who are opposed to this passionately ought to use every resource at their disposal, both advocating repeal of it — but that's going to take, as we know, three or four years, perhaps, and maybe too late — and also the legal avenue. I think that's the right approach.

CAVUTO: When I spoke to the attorney general last night on this very issue in the middle of all this craziness and the delays and the votes, Governor, I did raise the issue of how much of an uphill battle something like this would be.

I want you to hear his take on this. This is from last night.


CAVUTO: If 49 other A.G.s did what you're trying to do, I mean, the argument from the other side is, all hell would break loose. What do you say?

BILL MCCOLLUM, FLORIDA ATTORNEY GENERAL: Well, we're — they're going to have a lot of problems around the country. I think you're going to see most of the attorney generals do something like this before it's over with.

We're going to have several of them join us immediately when we file. We will file right away after the signature goes on the line. And you're going to see some file separately in their own states, besides joining us in this particular suit.


CAVUTO: Governor, that was the gist of my — my question. If every state did this, or if it found something that — that Congress decided it didn't like, it could — could — even if Republicans were in power, and Democrats did that to them — to complete pandemonium, couldn't it?

BUSH: Well, you know, first of all, typically, what happens is that, when there are a multitude of suits, they're joined together into one for efficiency purposes.

The — the constitutionality of law is — is always challenged. When I was governor, we passed laws that were challenged. Sometimes, they were ruled unconstitutional. Sometimes, they weren't. That didn't stop the process of implementing the law.

Basically, the trump goes to the runner in this case. The federal government will have the opportunity to implement it. But, in the interim, I think it's more than appropriate, on something this massive, where the federal government is mandating a tax, and requiring everybody to participate, whether they willing — willingly want to do it or not, I think it's worth looking at.

Again, I don't — I'm not a lawyer, and I don't know the constitutionality.

CAVUTO: Right.

BUSH: But I have talked to a lot of people that are lawyers, that are Constitutional lawyers, and they think that there's real good grounds to — to file suit in this case.

CAVUTO: The leading Senate candidate in your fine state, Marco Rubio, agrees with you. Your successor, the present governor, Charlie Crist, does not.

Should we read anything into the fact that you disagree with your successor?



I know that Governor Crist is advocating repeal of the bill. I know he opposed the bill that passed yesterday. And, so, I don't think you could read much into that. There's — amongst Republicans in Florida and across the country, there appears to be almost unanimous opposition to this, because it raises taxes. It puts a burden on the producers that are going to create the jobs.

It will limit people's aspirations in terms of economic growth in their own families and in their own businesses. It will create a huge new entitlement. I believe it undercounts the costs going — going forward. And it will create an even bigger role for the federal government in our lives, which is deeply disturbing to a whole lot of people.

And I think, in November of 2010, we will see the reaction to it. I think there's going to be a massive uprising against this government takeover of our lives.

CAVUTO: If you don't mind me revisiting the Charlie Crist situation, while you have not declared for — for either candidate, I know your son has indicated — George P. Bush — that he is for Marco Rubio. And you have said on a number of times — or at least been critical a number of times of Governor Crist. And not too long ago, speaking to NewsMax, when you were talking about his support of last year's stimulus bill, you called that unforgivable and you say — and I hope I'm quoting correctly, Governor — "I know I'm supposed to be politically correct, and I said I was neutral and all of that, but I have a problem with that."

So, are you just for Marco Rubio, but you just aren't saying it?

BUSH: Well, look, the Governor embraced the stimulus package, literally embraced the president the day before the Republicans, in a principled way, were opposing this $800-plus billion stimulus package that has not stimulated the economy, but has expanded the role of government in all sorts of areas.

Because the agenda is not just to stimulate the economy in this case. It's to redefine who we are as a nation through a much bigger role for government. And, so, when Republicans were fighting in a principled way against that, Governor Crist — incorrectly, in my opinion — supported the stimulus package, embraced it, and was the only — that I know of — only statewide figure in the country that did so — that was a huge mistake.

And, look, I respect the Governor. He's got a difficult job. The downturn has created real challenges for the state of Florida. He's doing the best he can in Tallahassee. But that was a mistake. And I consider it unforgivable, in the sense that we're now in a battle for our country's future. And many people are willing to say, let us give up our own freedom to be able to have security for the larger good through government.

And I think that's a false choice. I honestly believe that we should have an agenda of much significantly higher growth, and go back to our roots as a nation and as a people to have more optimism about our ability to produce, to create, to innovate, and not to expect government to be the solution to our problems.

CAVUTO: So, when your son George P. Bush, your oldest son...

BUSH: Yes.

CAVUTO: ... says, "I like Marco Rubio..."

BUSH: And my youngest as well, by the way.

CAVUTO: I know. It's a family affair — so, everyone but you. And I am wondering, they have to bounce this off dad.

BUSH: No. Look, my...

CAVUTO: At least give you a heads-up. They never did?

BUSH: George, my son, supported Fred Thompson. Jeb Jr. sported Rudy Giuliani. They didn't ask me. And they're adults. They were involved.

CAVUTO: But did it come up at dinner and say, by the way, we're going to do this?


BUSH: No, we talk about sports.



Well, I will save you from giving your bracket choices, Governor, but I will ask you, if you don't mind indulging this political questioning, when — when your son — I'm talking about George — had said that he did not believe you were going to run for president in 2012, did he get that from you?


BUSH: No, he didn't. He didn't talk to me about that either.

But I have no — I don't wake up each day thinking about running. And I'm involved in policy, which I love. I'm involved in helping others that are principle-centered, that want to believe in conservative principles and have a passion for reform, particularly in education.

And, so, I get to do what I — the part of politics I like, which is the nonpolitical part of politics, if you will, which I think is important. We can't just be against things in this country. Republicans and, more importantly, conservatives need to offer a hopeful, optimistic alternative to this massive rewrite of who we are as a nation through the federal government's largess.

And I...

CAVUTO: You mentioned, though, about not being against things.

And, fairly or not, Governor, the rap against a lot of Republicans, especially since all 178 Republican representatives were against this health care thing...

BUSH: Right.

CAVUTO: ... that they're going to be known as the party of no. And, actually, the Democrats have a strategy to this. And part of that strategy is to — to let it be known that the Republicans were on record opposing all the key wonderful things that this bill provided, things that are going to kick in almost immediately, like coverage for your kids' preexisting conditions, having your kids stay on your health policy through age 26 — which, by the way, Governor, my daughter is already jumping at –- and — but that's what they're going to seize on, and Republicans don't look good in that regard.

What do you say?

BUSH: You know what? I disagree with that.

I think Republicans are going to win because of this — because of this vote, because people see this as a massive tax increase, massive government spending, massive regulation, with all sorts of unintended consequences that will play out in the future by giving up our own freedom and put it in the hands of government.

So, I think Republicans did the right thing in opposition. I'm just saying that, going forward, it's also important to have an alternative to this. And there's a very powerful alternative, which is to say that, as a nation, we need to grow our way out of our problems. We can't tax our way and regulated and mandate our way out of problems. We need to grow our way out of problems. And the only way that will happen is to have less regulation, a more stable tax situation, and unleash the entrepreneurial spirit of the American people.

And when Republicans begin to offer that, because it's in our heart — and many leaders already do it, and do it in a consistent way — I think the choice will be so compelling in the next two election cycles, that you're going to see this center-right nation, which we are, go back to these — these values that I think a majority of Americans share.

I'm actually very optimistic about the conservative cause, as long as it's presented in a hopeful, optimistic way.

CAVUTO: All right. And wouldn't you know, Governor, the president has a slightly different view on that.

BUSH: He does.

CAVUTO: If you will be gracious to stick around — and I know you have — you've already agreed, so I'm very happy to hear that.

We're going to have more of Governor Jeb Bush on the president right now indicating that he's ready to do, I guess, the post-health care sell, going around the country, after a big White House signing of this plan for tomorrow.

Is the wind at the president's back? And, far from humbling him, are these attacks by those opposed to big government and Tea Parties and all of that actually emboldening him?

More from the governor on that on a day we had stocks up and health care stocks up, and everyone is feeling, well, if this is the end of the world, why is the market going up?


CAVUTO: All right. Well, the day after the big health care vote, the reverberations, which is why we're still in the nation's capital, because things are flying back and forth fast.

Robert Gibbs, the White House press spokesman, indicating earlier today that he believes last night's passage of health care reform means more to the president than any election.

Former Florida Governor Jeb Bush, do you believe that?

BUSH: I'm sure they believe that. I think that this is a huge victory for those that want to expand the role of government and redefine who we are through that expansion.

This is a big deal. And I think — I think the president sincerely believes that problems can be better solved through an expanded, robust, ever-increasing-in-its-size-and-scope federal government.

CAVUTO: Well, do you — were you surprised, then, Governor...

BUSH: He sincerely believes that. And I don't think he's surprised...

CAVUTO: Right.

BUSH: It shouldn't be a surprise to anybody. This is what he said in the campaign.

And the sad fact is, though, that a majority of Americans don't agree with that.

CAVUTO: But, you know, you're right about that. It falls in — it flies in the face of these polls that show most don't. And it flies in the face of one election after another that seems that government overreach was getting to be an issue in states like Virginia and New Jersey and ultimately in Massachusetts with the election of Scott Brown.

But we're told, after Scott Brown's election for Ted Kennedy's old Senate seat, that there was a big powwow at the White House, Governor, and it involved Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid, we're told Rahm Emanuel. We're to assume Rahm was dressed.

And, when they met with the president, they — there was the offer, look, maybe we ought to go health care-lite or water this down, and the president ultimately decided to go throttle-down.

And he won this, but a short term victory? What do you think?

BUSH: That will — that will play out in the next two election cycles, but I do think that it is — it was the defining moment in this administration.

The choice was to pivot and do the political thing, which was to find common ground, similar to what President Clinton did after the '94 election, or to go for it all.

CAVUTO: Well, he — he didn't do that, right?

BUSH: He didn't do it.

CAVUTO: He obviously did not want to do that.

BUSH: He didn't do it.

CAVUTO: And what do you read into that, if this is the way he's going to go?

BUSH: That he sincerely — exactly.

CAVUTO: They have read — they have read the polls, though, right, too, Governor. They — they think — and I heard from a lot of them when I was working last night on this — they were saying, Neil, we think, when we can sell all the goodies that are in this — and a lot of the good stuff is front-loaded, the taxes downloaded, in other words 2013 vs. for them...

BUSH: Well, that's not true.

CAVUTO: Not across the board, I grant you, but that's what they're going to campaign on. And they're going to say, and Republicans were against providing preexisting coverage for your kid. Republicans were against getting your kid on your policies through 26.

That's the way they are going to play it.

BUSH: I — I would think that, if the president of the United States submitted a bill to Congress today that said that children could stay on the — on their parents' health care until they were 26, that it would pass unanimously, or close to it. That's not the question here.

The question is — and, frankly, the — the budgeting issues play into a larger issue, which is the growing deficit and debt in our country, which increasingly now is — it's clear that the majority of Americans believe is a present danger to our long-term viability as a country.

CAVUTO: All right.

BUSH: So, when you spend — you know, you're taking 10 years of tax increases and six years of benefits in order to make this so-called revenue-neutral neutrality exist, and there's billions of dollars of taxes spent on the people that are going to create the jobs, God willing, for our recovery, that — that I think will make it harder for job creation in our recovery to take place, I think that there's a huge price that will be paid politically.

But it does say, I think correctly, that the president is committed to his ideology, and that we shouldn't be surprised. He's not transformative in the way that people expected when he ran. He's — he's — he's an orthodox political leader that believes that the role of government is — is important to solve problems and believes it in ways that are out of the mainstream, I think, for most people in this country.

But he's sincere to his beliefs.

CAVUTO: All right.

BUSH: And this was the decision — this was a deciding factor for him. And, you know, I respect that part of the conversation, that a political leader actually is acting on his beliefs.

CAVUTO: All right.

BUSH: But we shouldn't be surprised that he's doing it.

CAVUTO: You know, maybe — as we're speaking here, we're hearing from the Charlie Crist campaign folks, and they wanted to clarify that Governor Crist, who was in Tampa tonight attending an event, said that he hopes, if he gets elected senator in November, to help repeal the bill and bring...

BUSH: That's right.

CAVUTO: ... a commonsense approach to health care reform.

BUSH: That's what I say.

CAVUTO: Now, I don't know if that's the same thing as supporting what the attorney general of the state is doing to file a lawsuit. But he definitely does want to repeal it.

And do you draw a difference, or do you think that they should be more aggressive? What?

BUSH: As I said, I think that both candidates for the United States Senate on the Republican side oppose this bill. They may have different approaches on how to deal with it.

I think they — I think — I'm surprised that Governor Crist would be opposed to the lawsuit. And my guess is that Marco Rubio would be for repeal.

CAVUTO: But he is for repealing it. He is — he is for repealing it

BUSH: Absolutely. And I — and I think he's right about that.


If I could step back, sir, and get your sense of where Republicans stand now. Despite all the protests and everything else, do you think that they botched this in any way? There is the idea of the tin ear, that Democrats leaders rammed something through, and that's been popularly expressed by a number in your party, but maybe they — they were counting their chickens before they were hatched.

Do you think that that was the case?

BUSH: Well, you know, every Republican voted against the bill. So, the only way for this bill not to have passed was for a slightly larger number of Democrats who had voted no before to maintain their position.

And Speaker Pelosi has used whatever powers that were at her disposal to — to change those votes. I don't think — I think the Republicans took a principled position, and they defended that position well. But the — the Republicans are in a minority right now.

And the reconciliation process is what — what changed the game, using reconciliation for — for the passage.


BUSH: And we will see what happens. The Senate has all sorts of procedural things yet to come. And maybe something will happen in that.

CAVUTO: Very quickly — I know you have got to go, Governor — but your — how's your brother doing?

BUSH: He's great.

CAVUTO: There was this "Newsweek" cover the other week that — that sort of justifies the war in Iraq, or paints it in a totally different picture.

BUSH: Well, you know...


CAVUTO: Is he feeling a little vindicated? He's been very quiet.

BUSH: He's — he's — he's got a great life. He's doing fantastic in Dallas, building his institute and his library. He finished a book. I love that cover, though. It showed — only showed half of him. They couldn't give him full credit.


CAVUTO: That's right.

BUSH: They had to show half.

CAVUTO: That's right. I noticed that, too.

BUSH: It just — you can't — you just can't...

CAVUTO: So, why isn't he pulling a Dick Cheney or something like that, and coming out and being all nasty and all that stuff?

BUSH: Look, I think — I think there's a good tradition in our country for former presidents to — to keep their mouth shut. And...

And, other than President Carter...

CAVUTO: Not all of them. Not all of them, Governor. Not all of them.


BUSH: Other than President Carter, by and large, I think Presidents Bush and Clinton have been good ex-presidents.

CAVUTO: When — when will that stop, do you think? When will he come out and be more...

BUSH: It may never stop it. And I don't think that's necessarily the role for my...


BUSH: ... for my brother. I think it's the right thing to do...

CAVUTO: All right.

BUSH: ... as someone who loves his country.

CAVUTO: All right.

Sir, a real pleasure having you on. Be well. Be safe.

BUSH: Thank you, Neil.

CAVUTO: Sorry I missed you in New York.

BUSH: Maybe next time.

CAVUTO: Indeed. All right, Governor Jeb Bush.

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