Jeb Bush -Trade with Cuba When Cuba is Free
Jeb Bush: Trade with Cuba When Cuba is Free
By JULIE ENGLANDER & KATHERINE PERKINS • 14 HOURS AGO
R: Governor Bush, welcome.
B: Good to be here.
R: You know, a variety of folks are saying and talking about this being
your first trip to Iowa, but I think it’s not…
R: And you came here often when your father ran for president and when
your brother did. Why don’t you talk a little bit, first, about those
B: Sure. Gosh, I must have been like 26 years old when my dad ran, the
campaign was basically 1979, because the caucus was in January, and I
probably went to at least 50 of the counties if not more. I spent a
quarter to half my time here. I remember eating really well, eating
really, really well, which I enjoyed, and meeting a lot of nice people.
I always comment on this, Chuck Grassley must have cloned himself in
1979 and ’80 because he seemed to be, my brother Marvin and I spent a
lot of time here and it seems like we both saw Chuck Grassley on the
same day at the same time. I mean, I learned a lot by campaigning for my
dad and for my brother. I learned a lot about Iowa as well.
R: Thank you for coming. Why don’t we get started?
R: One of the important issues for agriculture is trade, and as you
know, Governor Branstad has a close relationship with the leader of China.
R: Who uniquely came here when he was a young man and the governor has
always told me which term that was and I can’t remember exactly which
term that was, but it was one of the first terms and early terms of
Governor Branstad’s and he learned about Iowa and he learned about food
production. That friendship today is an important aspect of Iowa to
export more products to China. How do you see the relationship with
China going forward?
B: It’s one that we need to manage with great care because of the
complexity of the relationship. They are a competitor in some ways and
certainly from a strategic national security point of view we need to be
vigilant as it relates to their efforts to use cyber warfare against us.
There’s real challenges. On the other hand there’s huge opportunities as
it relates to expanding trade. China’s projected, lowered their growth
rate. This year their projected growth rate to 7%. Imagine if we were at
7% right now, I don’t think we’d have the deep pessimism that exists in
our country today. Higher growth creates massive opportunities as you
see the emergence of a Chinese middle class growing and growing and
growing, which is a sweet spot for Iowa agriculture, to be honest with
you. So I think having a completely engaged relationship so that we
don’t have misunderstandings and that we take advantage of the trade
opportunities that are going to be probably the greatest trade
opportunities that American agriculture has, of any country in the world
it is likely to be China for the next generation of time.
R: Recent discussion has focused around Cuba…
R: …and whether we should trade with Cuba. Should we trade with Cuba?
B: We should ultimately trade with Cuba when Cuba is free. The
difference between China and Cuba is China has huge economic
opportunities for us. Cuba is a country of 11 million people,
impoverished, and it’s a dictatorship. Any efforts taken by the Obama
administration right now has not gotten anything in return. So he’s
opened up possibilities of additional trade, although Congress
ultimately will have to lift the embargo and he’s moving towards
diplomatic relations, but Cuban dissidents are still in prison. The
economy is controlled by a handful of, what we would call, they’re
basically part of the Apparat-chik of the Cuban regime. There’s no small
business development. All the mythology built up about Cuba, the simple
fact is it looks more like North Korea than a country that’s emerging
towards a freer place. The better approach would have been to say to
Cuba, to the regime, “You make these changes and, of course, we will
open up a diplomatic relations and, of course, we’ll open up trade.”
Ultimately that will create a growing economy for Cuba that will create
opportunities, but right now, this is not something that we should be
doing unless there’s big time changes in Cuba.
R: New subject, immigration. You have been the biggest proponent of
immigration in the country. You’ve written a book. What does an
immigration policy under President Bush look like?
B: It starts with recognizing that the rule of law is a sacred value in
our country, that we need to enforce our border, we need to deal with
the fact that 40% of our illegal immigrants come with a legal visa and
they stay, overstay their bounds. Great countries ought to know where
those folks are. It has an E-verify system that is truly verifiable. It
is something that businesses can take to the bank and that we get that
done first so that there’s confidence moving forward that legal
immigration will be easier than illegal immigration because today I
think a lot of people have big doubts about that. Then, I think we need
to move from a family petitioning legal model which this country has,
since the 1960s has had the broadest definition of family, spouse, minor
children, adult siblings, and adult parents, and so we have what’s
called chain migration where more and more of our legal immigrants are
coming through this expanded definition of family.
We should narrow that to what every other country has, spouse and minor
children, and then dramatically expand based on economic need, economic
immigrants. A guest worker program to deal with the shortages in
agriculture and other sectors based on demand. Creating, expanding H1B
visa holders. Allowing investors to come to our country. Modeling our
immigration system based on the Canadian model. Okay? Canada has more
economic immigrants than we do and we’re ten times their size. If we
want to be young and dynamic and growing again, where the debate isn’t
about who is taking from whom, rather than have an expanding pie where
opportunities exist for all of us, I think we need to fix this broken
immigration system. The final thing I’d say is that immigrants that are
here need to have a path to legalized status. No one I know has a plan
to deal with illegal immigrants, to say that they’re going to be rounded
up and taken away. There isn’t a specific plan. What we need to do is to
make sure people pay fines, that they learn English. That they work,
that they don’t receive government assistance. That they earn legalized
status over the long haul. That they come out from the shadows so that
they can be productive with a provisional work permit. This is the only
serious, thoughtful way, I think, to deal with this and we’d better
start doing it because this is a competitive world, Bruce. I mean, we’re
not operating on all of our cylinders right now and to be successful as
a nation we should take advantage of all of our strengths and deal with
the problems that we face and fix those. That’s how a successful
strategy works in family life and business and, certainly, it should
work that way in government.
R: Okay. Next subject — The RFS and ethanol production, and in
particular, the renewable fuel standard. Where do you come out on that?
B: I come out on it, first of all, where the EPA should create a much
more certain playing field to start with. This is just another example,
each week I learn of another example of not just EPA, but across the
alphabet soup of government, where the uncertainty makes it harder for
people to make investment decisions. In this case, creating a certain
playing field has to be part of the answer. I would suggest to you that
ultimately, whether it’s ethanol or any other alternative fuel,
renewable or otherwise, the market is ultimately going to have to decide
this. The law that was passed in 2007 has worked for sure. Look at the
increase in production. It has been a benefit to us as we’ve reduced our
dependency on foreign sources of oil, but as we move forward, over the
long haul, there should be certainty for people to invest and we ought
to continue to innovate to create the lowest cost energy sources in the
world so that we can grow economically, and so, at some point, we’ll see
a reduction of the RFS need because ethanol will be such a valuable part
of the energy feedstock for our country. Whether that is 2022 or
sometime in the future, I don’t know.
R: So, one of the challenges for the industry, is that uncertainty…
R: And, efforts in Congress to repeal it and I think those, a number of
people in the audience would agree with your statement on market access
and consumers choice, but what about between now and then on stability
on the RFS that exists today?
B: That’s what I’m saying. The EPA needs to create guidelines. This idea
that you’re now, what, a year and a half, almost two years behind, makes
it impossible to make long range investment decisions. So create clarity
going forward of a baseline amount of ethanol. My guess is, given how
successful there’s been a reduction in price of cost, that ethanol will
be able to compete beyond that baseline mandated amount, that their
volumes will be able to grow. It’s really hard to make an investment
decision that may take two or three years when you’re already two or
three years behind of what the baseline amount is.
R: What do you think about wind?
B: Wind, well, I love it for Iowa; It’s not so good for Florida. Wind
is, we have sun, so, you know, our alternative energy sources in our
state might be different than Iowa, but one of the companies that’s the
largest producer, it is the largest producer of wind in the United
States, is a Florida based company called NextEra and they believe that
given, again, American innovation, American technology, the cost, the
price of production of wind is now on its way, very close, to being
competitive with any other feedstock, and so my guess is, “Job well
done.” This is how America works. We create an incentive, in this case
it’s the production tax credit. It’s created an industry that has
allowed to, that has created innovation and creativity, the American
ingenuity at work. It’s now competitive and I think it ought to be
phased out over a period of time.
R: How would you do that with the expiration of the wind tax credit that
no longer is there on future wind being able to be built and where does
that fit into?
B: Do it over a three to five year period. Be certain about it. Just
say, “Here’s, this is as long as we need to be able to be competitive to
create a diverse feedstock for power generation.” This is a place where
the industry wants that. They are not opposed to that at all. Look, I
mean, at some point, these incentives, if you believe in markets
working, and I do, put me in on that side of the camp. I believe in
entrepreneurial capitalism and markets prevailing. Look at the fracking
revolution that happened. No one thought natural gas prices would be as
low as they are. It happened not because it was a government driven
deal. It was because of American innovation creating that opportunity.
We ultimately need to get to that point for all of our energy sources
because it will be the lowest cost energy for the greatest number of
people. In this case there was a good incentive. It was put in place,
for 15 to 20 years it worked. Now, we’re at a point where, in places
where there’s a prevalence of wind, it can be an important part of the
energy needs of the Midwest, Texas, and California. I wish it was in
Florida, but it isn’t.
R: Let’s talk about a new topic, food. What role does GMOs play in
feeding the world?
B: We rewind the tape as it relates to American innovation and American
technology. This is, think about it this way, an American farmer in
1950, produced one unit of agricultural products and today they produce
15 times more. I mean, this is one of the greatest high technology
innovative sectors of our economy and the GMO effort to increase yields,
to deal with droughts, to deal with disease, is an element of that. It
creates economic opportunity and prosperity. We should not be trying to
make it harder for that kind of innovation to exist. We should celebrate
it, so as it relates to the labeling efforts, state by state, all these
things, I think that’s a solution for a problem that doesn’t exist. We
shouldn’t be adding burdens to this innovation that makes it possible
for us to be the greatest producer of food to the largest number of
people in the world.
R: What about country of origin labeling?
B: I actually, I like that. As a consumer, when I go to Publix in Coral
Gables, which I’ll do tomorrow morning after church, to go prepare for
Sunday Fun-day in my house. We’ll be cooking Iowa beef and I’ll probably
make a really good guacamole and I want to know where that avocado is
from and I want to know where the onions from and the cilantro and all
the secret stuff I put in it, so I like the country of origin labeling.
It’s prevalent in supermarkets in this country.
R: As we talk about government spending and the USDA programs, a variety
of those programs, over time, have gone from cash subsidies, direct
subsidies and lowering those, with the federal crop insurance as a
safety net in place of disaster payments that happened before. Your
perspective of some of those programs, is that the right direction to be
B: I think the crop insurance system is a far better approach and it is
integral to the farm economy. Look, I was governor of Florida for eight
years and we actually have farm income that’s quite comparable to Iowa.
I mean, it’s a big darn deal. Three hundred different crops that are
produced there. It’s a huge, it’s the second largest industry behind
tourism in our state and the crop insurance program is, creates a
stability that makes it possible for, and very volatile kind of
situations for farmers to be able to be successful. I mean, in my
experience in this we had citrus canker that almost knocked our industry
to our knees. Now we have greening. We had hurricanes. I don’t know if
you know that Florida still occasionally has a hurricane. We had fires,
we had all sorts of natural disasters and other disasters that made it
essential to have the stability of the crop insurance program for sure.
R: As you dealt with Florida agriculture and the nitrogen run-off issue.
R: It’s a big issue in Iowa. Around the country farmers are trying to do
things to manage that through new technology, other ways. How did you
deal with that as governor of Florida?
B: We had a big issue as it relates to restoration of the Everglades and
the sugar industry, hundreds of thousands of acres of sugar being
produced, the most productive sugar production in the United States.
And, the only way to make this work effectively is not to come and
mandate and yell and scream and have press conferences and great photo
ops. It’s to work in a collaborative way to make sure that the viability
of agriculture is front and center as you try to achieve a larger public
good. Most of the time my experience is that those efforts are better
done voluntarily. That there is an expectation and that people figure
out the best possible way using best practices to sustain their business
and also achieve the desired effect of runoff. Today, Bruce, the big
challenge in Florida, I assume it’s the same here, is the EPA ruling as
it relates to waters of the United States. Now, it’s just outrageous the
definition of water. Imagine Florida, which until people started
migrating down there, basically, we were effectively one big wetland.
Imagine the Army Corp, this is like, I mean the EPA, this is like to use
an Iowa expression, they’re like a pig in slop. I mean, this for them is
perfect because they can now put their tentacles into every aspect of
every activity in the state of Florida and I’m sure here in Iowa it’s
the same thing. We have to begin to reign in this top-down driven
regulatory system and figure out more collaborative ways to achieve the
R: How, actually, do you do that because along with the navigable waters
the EPA has wanted to regulate dust out of combines.
B: Yeah, are kids working in their family farms or, you know, it’s
just… The first thing you do is you change presidents. I mean, you put
people in the alphabet soup of government that have practical experience
in the fields that they are regulating. I know that sounds like a crazy
idea, that somehow there’s a… I mean, immediately you say, “Well,
that’s a conflict.” No, it actually, practical common sense might be
useful in every level of the EPA and every level of the FDA and all the
other agencies that make it harder for people to rise up right now.
Then, you have a president who has a chance to undo the executive orders
that were done by executive order. I mean this president has used his
authority and authority he doesn’t have to go way beyond what any
president’s done in the past. You can reorder and restructure that by
undoing those executive orders. Thirdly, being a governor of a state,
and I’m sure the other governors said this as well, there is no reason
why Washington should be the end all and be all in the regulatory world.
We should respect the tenth amendment and shift as much power back to
state and local governments to provide more common sense regulation. The
final thing I’d say, and just so you know, in most of these federal laws
there’s delegated authority that’s granted the executive to give that
power to the states and over time that power has been taken back,
particularly with the EPA. The final thing I’d say is that we need to
revamp this whole notion of what economic, the cost benefit analysis of
every rule is. There is a process to measure what the economic costs are
for the implementation of rules in most cases. The Clean Air Act I guess
is disallowed, but in most cases. But it’s not based on real economic
impacts. I think bringing an independent view of that so that even if
it’s a good intended idea for a regulation, if it costs three X more
than the benefit, then maybe we shouldn’t do it.
R: One of the things that I think you’ll continue to see in Iowa and
around the country, have noticed, is the urban rural divide…
R: … that is happening today in income levels, education, health care,
how would you reverse that trend and what specifically have you done in
Florida as governor to make a difference with that?
B: We have an income divide inside of urban areas, and there is the
large urban areas are, you are correct, I think, are probably more
prosperous around the country than the rural areas. What we tried to do
was focus on the fundamentals. The first thing that I think is essential
is to assure that children can read and write and calculate math and
understand, have a sense of history that we are constantly challenging
an education system that only yields about a third of our kids, after we
spend more per student than any country in the world other than
Luxembourg and two other countries, that a third of our kids are college
or career ready. No community can be sustainable if you have those kind
of results. That’s a systemic problem across the urban and rural areas,
but if you’re going to create an environment where people are going to
invest to create jobs, you have to have an educated workforce.
Everything is now being immersed in technology and innovation. You can’t
just use your hands to be successful. You have to use your hands and
your mind and that’s not happening enough. We’re just basically just
casting aside large numbers of people.
The second thing is this, I don’t believe that this is a Washington
solution. This has to be… Governors are the best place for this to
happen. Washington could be a partner. There’s all sorts of smaller
grant programs that exist. If they’re to be successful they ought to be
driven by strategies determined at the local and state level. I don’t
think presidents ought to be focused on a five point plan to deal with
rural Florida or rural Iowa. That is best done in partnership with the
leadership at the state level. Bringing broadband into communities is
part of this. In the case of Iowa and certainly Florida, invigorating
and constantly updating the competitive nature of agriculture and making
it more global every chance we have. I mean, I think free trade is going
to be one of the great Godsends for the next generation of time for
agriculture. We have two trade agreements that the president ought to be
given Trade promotion authority on. The congress has the right to turn
those treaties down if they are not negotiated correctly, but it’s a
fantastic opportunity for us to expand markets in places like Japan and
Korea and Southeast Asia and certainly in Europe, which is very
protectionist as it relates to its agriculture. Tearing down those
barriers will do more for rural Iowa than any particular plan that I’m
R: We’re about out of time.
B: Oh, darn it.
R: Thoughts, perspective in particular on health care in rural areas?
B: Health care, in general, you know, we’ve created a monstrosity of
consolidating power in Washington D. C. Suppressing wages, making it
uncertain for investment, in fact, the greatest job suppressor in the so
called recovery that we’ve gone through is Obamacare. I think replacing
Obamacare with a market oriented approach that is where local and state
input starts to drive the policies away from this top down driven system
where there’s employer mandates, employee mandates, all sorts of
mandated benefits that are creating huge costs and all these cross
subsidies make it harder for small business, particularly, to make ends
meet. We need to move back to a system that is consumer directed where
patients have a direct relationship with their health care provider and
where there’s rewards for health and it’s low cost and the effort by the
state, by the government, ought to be to try to create catastrophic
coverage where there is relief in families in this country that if you
have a hardship that goes way beyond your means of paying for it that
you have a… The government is there, or an entity is there to help you
deal with that. The rest of it ought to be shifted back where
individuals are empowered to make more decisions themselves.
R: Okay, well, thank you Governor. Thank you for coming.
B: Thank you, take care. Thanks guys.
Source: Jeb Bush: Trade with Cuba When Cuba is Free | Iowa Public Radio