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What Is Jeb Bush Talking About?

Ben Smith flags a somewhat mystifying quote from an interview Jeb did with Tucker Carlson for Esquire:

Barack Obama would not have gotten elected if he'd let us in on his secret plan prior to the election. He would not have gotten elected if he'd said, "My idea is to create a $1.8 trillion deficit for the next fiscal year. My idea is to spend $750 billion [the president's budget estimate puts this figure at $630 billion] over the next ten years on a government-sponsored, government-subsidized health care policy. My idea is to create a massive cap-and-trade system [based on the idea] that CO2 is [a] pollutant and we need to tax it in a massive way to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions."

Wait, what? Unless I'm mis-remembering, Obama campaigned on health care and climate change at least a few times ... each day. So not exactly a secret. As for the deficit, it's strange that the brother of the guy responsible for a major chunk of it would seize on that. (Question: Would Bush have been elected had he gone around the country saying, "I'm going to take a $5.6 trillion ten-year surplus and turn it into a $5 trillion deficit?")

As for the non-Bush portions of the deficit, by far the biggest driver is the recession/financial crisis--thanks to both direct (stimulus, TARP) and indirect costs (automatic stabilizers like lower tax revenue and greater unemployment, welfare, Medicaid benefits). And my recollection is that Obama's perceived strength in responding to the recession was perhaps his biggest advantage over the GOP (as even Jeb concedes later on). So, again, not much of a secret.

Judging from this interview, that perception turns out to have been justified.

--Noam Scheiber