“You can probably see the tire marks on my forehead for advocating a guest worker program,” Jeb Bush said.
The former Florida governor and current Republican presidential candidate made the joke while describing the country’s “broken immigration system.”
Bush was in Iowa Tuesday to unveil his plans for regulatory reform at a diner in Cedar Falls before participating in a conference call with the Republican Agriculture Commissioners Committee.
“I would like to see comprehensive reform [to the immigration system] … and make a guest worker program based on economic need and demand,” Bush said.
The presidential hopeful said a sound guest worker program is vital to agriculture and to the economy. Under Bush’s plan, guest workers over time would receive legal status, but not citizenship. He would make it tougher for illegal immigrants to enter the country but establish a system where legally documented migrant workers under his guest worker program could “come out of the shadows” and get a provisional work permit, pay taxes and help boost the economy.
“I am frustrated like everyone else, but we are going to fix this,” Bush said. “I’ve got the courage and staying power as president of the United States to get it done right.”
In another move that would benefit the agriculture community, Bush said he would do away with the death tax as he was describing his reform of the nation’s tax codes.
Bush also is a proponent of the Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement, he said.
“I would negotiate these deals in earnest,” Bush said of TPP and other trade agreements with Europe. “The U.S. agriculture industry is far and away the most competitive in the world, and these trade agreements will create farm income and help the nation going forward if we get this right.”
The successful negotiation of the TPP agreement would send a message to the rest of Asia the United States is not pulling back from the market and can be relied upon as a solid, long-term trading partner, Bush said.
“It also would send a clear signal to China that they cannot run roughshod over the region,” Bush said.
Turning his focus to regulatory reform, Bush said as president he would use his executive authority to do the following:
* Require regulators to live within a budget – for every one dollar of regulatory cost they propose, they will need to also propose ways to save an equivalent dollar through regulatory relief.
* Enhance presidential and congressional controls to hold bureaucrats accountable and prevent burdensome regulations.
* Establish a two-year deadline for completing federal permitting process – including environmental impact reviews — for major infrastructure projects that are mired in delays stretching up to a decade or more.
* And repeal or reform the most onerous Obama rules and regulations.
In reducing red tape, Bush said, he would make regulators accountable to Americans and not special interests.