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October 2, 2015

Note: Official YouTube Video Linked Through Subheadings in Transcript

ATTORNEY GENERAL ALAN WILSON: There are nine Justices on the United States Supreme Court. Four of them were born in the 1930s, meaning the first term of the next President of the United States there will be four people in their eighties, which means the next President could choose up to nearly half the members of the Supreme Court which could be there for the next twenty, thirty, or forty years. So the questions we’re going to go over today are so important and I hope that you pay attention and you listen to the answers that Governor Bush is going to give because you very well could be listening to the next President of the United States. So, before I invite him out here I want to identify a couple of individuals. Everybody here is important, but we do have some elected and appointed officials and individuals who are notable people who have been both supportive of the Bush campaign in our state. We have Catherine Templeton, former director of DHEC. We have Sally Atwater from the office, I don’t know where she is but I saw her earlier. We have Chad Groover, the party chair over here in Greenville. Representative Bruce Bannister-Bruce is out there. We have Representative Mark Willis, Representative Gary Clary, Representative Eddie Talon, Representative Rita Allison, Representative Gary Smith, Representative Dan Hamilton, we have President Elizabeth Davis and Dr. Bob Taylor. So those are just some of the few dignitaries we have with us today. We also have our former state party chairman, Barry Wynn in the audience. So, if I missed your name it’s the staffer’s fault behind the curtain because I was just reading the list, but know that you’re all important, and that’s why Governor Bush is here today. So, in South Carolina we’re known as a very friendly people who love to give a warm welcome to our guests who come to visit us in our house. So I’m going to ask you in about a few seconds to give a very warm welcome to the former governor of Florida, Governor Jeb Bush. Welcome Governor Bush. Okay, so here’s what we’re going to do, we’re going to start off with Governor Bush, why don’t you go ahead and take two or three minutes to introduce yourself to the audience then we’ll jump into it.

GOV. JEB BUSH Sure, I’m Jeb. I was a former governor of the state of Florida for eight years where I disrupted the old order for anybody that has migrated north, you know that during my eight years we kind of turned the place upside down. And I think Washington D.C. needs a little bit of disruption as well. I think we ought to have a balanced budget amendment, that’s part of the constitutional conversation. I think the president ought to have a version of a line-item veto power like I did when I was governor. We vetoed twenty five hundred separate line items in the budget and brought discipline to the budget process. They called me Vito Corleone because of it, one of the greatest things. By the way, the plot for those who aren’t as old as the General and I, as it’s kind of like Sharknado, more like that.


GOV. JEB BUSH I think we need to change the culture in Washington to fix the things that are necessary for our country to rise up again, so I’m on a mission to do just that. Whether it’s lobbying reform or the career civil service system that hasn’t been reformed in more than a generation of time. If you think about it you can’t fire people for cause in the federal government and their wages and benefits are thirty percent higher than the private sector equivalents because we’ve not challenged how things work. And little by little, in increments not discernable to the naked eye perhaps, we’ve gone beyond what the framers envisioned for the federal government’s role. If we’re going to be successful we have to challenge how it works, shift power back to our states, not allow a president to use executive power that he doesn’t have. I mean Article Two General, I do believe in a strong presidency, but this President I think has stretched the limits of what executive authority is. And I will reverse the executive orders that make it harder for us to believe that the rule of law applies to everybody. This country works when everybody thinks they have a chance to achieve earned success. And right now, increasingly people think that if you’re a crony capitalist, you get a little better deal. If you have a large business that can hire lobbyists, compliance officers, and lawyers, you can get a little better deal. I’m on the side of people that want to rise up-the next generation of job creators and wealth creators. We should always be creating a climate where the disrupters have as equal a chance as the incumbents. That’s what makes America extraordinary, makes it exceptional, and reversing the trend of more and more centralized power in Washington will do just that. I’m really excited that you all are here. This is a pretty nerdy conversation about the Constitution. I will admit I’m not a lawyer but if you think about the Constitution and how important it is as a document for our freedoms and for our country and if you just go back to your day every day, keeping your ears open and your eyes open you’ll know that the Constitution is an incredibly important document for 2016-and 2015, as it was when it was created two hundred and forty years ago, so thank you for allowing me to come.

ATTORNEY GENERAL ALAN WILSON: Thank you Governor. For your conversation you were able to work in Sharknado, so if we were scoring this you’d get a point for pop culture references.

GOV. JEB BUSH I’m not sure pop culture’s getting me the presidency, Mark Cuban could probably be a pretty good president.

On Judicial Philosophy

ATTORNEY GENERAL ALAN WILSON: Well the first area we’re going to go into is judicial philosophy, and my blob analogy-I didn’t finish the part where the Constitution does not allow us to take Congress and drop them down into the Arctic Ocean, that’s one way we can freeze government, but we’re not allowed to do that. But one of the ways we are allowed to do it is through the court systems, through lawsuits, and through the people who interpret the Constitution. So the first line of questions is important because it’s going to go through your general judicial philosophy. You heard me say that the next President will have four octogenarians on the Supreme Court in their first term. So the first question I want to go to is a two-part question: What is your overarching judicial philosophy and what kind of judges are you looking to appoint-not to just the high court, but to the intermediate courts?

GOV. JEB BUSH Well I think that all federal judges have to be the same application really matters which is you have intellectual acumen, to have a strong intellectual basis, that have integrity, that can persuade, because this is typically—at the appellate court level at least—is a process of persuading people toward your opinion and then have a consistent judicial philosophy that is to interpret the Constitution in the confines of the Constitution, not to go beyond that, not to view the judiciary as a legislative body. I actually think of the three branches of government that the judiciary is a hugely important one, but it’s got to be the most humble one as well. It has to be totally respectful of the Constitution and the laws so that there is certainty. The rule of law exists in this country and it’s the envy of many places in the world because we don’t have uncertainty. The minute we create uncertainty as we’re living through the day, it makes it harder for people to be successful. So as a relation to the Supreme Court, Alan, there’s one other criteria that would be hugely important which is a consistent record. You can’t do this based on someone’s opinion. I think the general argument now is to get someone that’s totally unknown and doesn’t have a record so that the opponents won’t try to crush it or try to demonize them and make it hard for them to get picked. I don’t think that’s the appropriate way to go. I think you need to have someone that has a consistent experience record so that then you can say—when they get to the bench—that they’ll maintain that consistency. Which means as a President, you’ve got to fight for them. You’ve got to have their back all the way through and use all the powers of the presidency to make sure that confirmation takes place.

ATTORNEY GENERAL ALAN WILSON: So with the consistent record are you saying you would want to see them have been a former judge? Is that important to you?

GOV. JEB BUSH Yeah I think it is. I think that’s where we’re at because of the demonization that exists in politics. You know frankly this idea that you don’t have a record is a better way to go, I don’t think it is anymore. You have to say this is the highest priority a President has because it has the longest lasting impact. So you could pick somebody that has extraordinary experience—I don’t think it should be a litmus test—but my guess and inclination would be to have someone that has been in the federal court system and that has a clear and consistent record.

ATTORNEY GENERAL ALAN WILSON: So right now I’m a judicial candidate and you’re President Jeb Bush and you’re interviewing me for a potential post—Supreme Court, court of appeals—what are some questions you would want to know my answers to before you would be willing to put me in the court?

GOV. JEB BUSH Well I would do the same that I did when I was Governor. I’m not a lawyer but you can ask the kind of questions that give you an insight of the peoples’ thinking. I would ask questions like “Name a ruling that you had as a federal judge or a Supreme Court ruling where your views were different than the actual ruling.” In other words find places where people really had to distinguish between their job as a judge—which is to strictly interpret the Constitution—that might be in conflict with their own personal views. That’s the place where you find the consistency of judicial philosophy. I actually asked people questions to give them a chance to say what their views were politically—I didn’t want them to do that, I challenged them. It may not have been fair, it was a trap to have them say what they thought I wanted to hear. And the right kind of judge would be respectful of the question but would be clear that their job isn’t to have a personal opinion, it is to strictly interpret the law. I actually asked people what book they’re reading, and if they were reading a book that sent a clear signal, you know a book I like or something, that stuff is foolish. When I asked someone that once their answer was ‘I just finished Scalia’s book.’ and I was like ‘No you didn’t.’ They just wanted me to hear that. I mean there’s a way to challenge these people so that you really get to the heart of why people want to serve and what their consistent record is.

On the Constitution

ATTORNEY GENERAL ALAN WILSON: So I’ve got another question in the area of judicial philosophy. This is why I’m asking this question: there are people out there who believe that the Constitution was written-it was born-two hundred and forty some odd years ago and that it has evolved because the Constitution is a living organism, it’s a living document. And with each generation and each culture that passes, the people have to reinterpret the Constitution and kind of shoe-horn that culture and basically evolve the Constitution to fit the culture of the present day. Others believe that the Constitution was written and it is supposed to be interpreted based on its original intent, in the way it was written. And the only way you can change the Constitution is to amend it by the processes prescribed. So my question to you Governor is are you an original intent person or do you believe that the Constitution is a living document?

GOV. JEB BUSH No I don’t think it’s a living document, it’s a wondrous document for sure, it’s probably the greatest document ever created. The Bill of Rights particularly is powerful because it’s the only document I’m aware of-although others have modeled their constitutions after us-very few actually have a constitution that protects us, citizens, from our government. If you look at most constitutions they do the opposite. They guarantee rights, they guarantee a job, they guarantee housing, they guarantee this and that and it’s never fulfilled. I think the power of our document is the opposite so I do believe I’m an originalist in that sense and it still applies. There’s nothing different in 2016 that this Constitution can’t be applied to the world we’re in. We’ve certainly changed as a country but this document still has incredible relevancy in our lives.

ATTORNEY GENERAL ALAN WILSON: One quick, last question on judicial philosophy, a thirty second answer if you can, are there any recent or longstanding Supreme Court decisions that you’ve seen out of the Court that have been extremely detrimental and why?

GOV. JEB BUSH Well there have been a few but I would say the Kelo decision was the one that just set my hair on fire and my head exploded.

ATTORNEY GENERAL ALAN WILSON: Anybody familiar with the Kelo decision, Kelo v. City of New London? Wow.

GOV. JEB BUSH Really? Well this is a decision that said that this town in Connecticut-I believe on the shoreline of Long Island sound-could use its police powers to take private property, and it broadly defined the public good to include private development. And I found that just abhorrent, so my first reaction was we better do something about that in this state and we passed a constitutional amendment to prohibit that kind of activity in the state of Florida. It’s the kind of thing that one of the candidates for President actually tried to get done. He used this police power to garner property from a widow that did not want to sell, to build a casino-I don’t know if you know which one I’m talking about. It is wrong, it is absolutely wrong. Eminent domain should be used for right of way-for transportation, for pipelines, for the things that basically have a big, strong, relevant public good and I think most people in the country agree with that concept.

ATTORNEY GENERAL ALAN WILSON: For someone who doesn’t have a law degree you must have stayed at a Holiday Inn Express last night. Just to tag on to what he said, this is why that case is important-the Supreme Court said that—as you know the government can condemn your property under eminent domain. They have to pay fair market value if it’s for a public use like a bridge, or a road, like the interstates cut through cow pastures—the problem is they redefined the statement of public purpose. So they allowed a private developer to condemn a person’s private property to build a private casino and entertainment area because it would be for the public purpose of raising the overall welfare of the community, so it’s a very dangerous precedent.

GOV. JEB BUSH Frankly the end of the story of New London is that it never developed and so the property was taken. Then they needed subsidies from the government of course to be able to do the development and then everybody was at the trough. This is the example of crony capitalism that has just grown in our country and it really restricts the next generation of people. This is how political power needs to be restrained I think.

On Executive Action

ATTORNEY GENERAL ALAN WILSON: So the next area we’re going to switch to a different topical area and this all weaves together. Executive action or as I like to call it the pen and the phone section as y’all recall the President said he’s got a phone and a pen if Congress is not going to do things the way he wants them done what’s he going to do he’s going to pick up his phone and pull out his pen and he’s going to rule through administrative fiat or executive action. Two quick examples and then I’m going to ask my question. As y’all recall last fall the state of Texas, under then Attorney General and Governor elect Abbott who I worked with, and South Carolina joined in—along with twenty-six other states—a lawsuit to challenge President Obama’s executive immigration action which basically sought to legalize millions of illegal aliens through administrative fiat without going through Congress. The President said that—and I’m quoting—“I just took action to change the law.” a phrase that the White House later clarified as colloquial.

GOV. JEB BUSH The Harvard Law Review President.

ATTORNEY GENERAL ALAN WILSON: So we sued the President under the Article Two: take care to faithfully execute clause and so far the courts have upheld the states’ position on that. Another area—this is close to home—as y’all realize over the last thirty years Yucca Mountain was designated as a national nuclear repository. Spent nuclear waste goes to Yucca Mountain in Nevada and we spent billions of dollars building a road and a highway system through the mountains, building the (I call it the) nuclear wine cellar to store that waste. It was billions of dollars to do the environmental impact studies, and in a unilateral action the Department of Energy, in the second year of the president’s administration, basically shuttered it. This was against a bipartisan congressional resolution that multiple bipartisan Congresses—Republican and Democrat alike—had endorsed. So I was kind of teeing up the question but, do you believe that federal administrative agencies are required to operate based on congressional or executive action when the two are in conflict?

GOV. JEB BUSH Well I do believe that the first step is to make sure that law is written clearly so that you avoid these conflicts. I think in Washington one of the things that might be useful is to have a single subject rule or some version of that, I don’t know if you have that in South Carolina. In Florida we do, which simplifies the laws and the laws are more prescriptive. They actually don’t give as much leeway to the executive power but if you give broad deference in how you write the law, then it creates this confusion for starters. DOCA and DOPA, the Dream Act kids and their families, this was what the president did. He took prosecutorial discretion which meant that he has the power by law to take on a case by case basis allow people to stay in through unique circumstances. He basically used the pen and the phone for five million people with no discretion at all and it is clear that you’re going to win that case—that is clearly way off the reservation. I don’t know the specifics of the Yucca Mountain deal, I do know that one of the ironies of this is that we continued to get taxed on our utility bills for the repository that was not actually going to be built and finally someone recognized that that was against the law as well. There’s a reserve account of thirty billion dollars which could have what gone to what? Forty or fifty if it never stopped so thank God for attorney generals like yours and Scott Pruitt, who’s a big supporter of mine who led the charge on Obamacare, because it’s reigning in executive power. Another place you could do this is on regulation where you create and pass a law. The executive then goes through this convoluted rule making process and I believe it’s appropriate to have an up or down vote in Congress to make sure that the executive rule matches legislative intent. Anything over a certain cost, to have an up or down vote within thirty days, those kinds of things I think are the proper check. The best way to deal with this though is put a President in there that respects the Constitution for crying out loud and doesn’t use executive power he doesn’t have.

ATTORNEY GENERAL ALAN WILSON: And you mentioned something—by the way I don’t know if y’all knew this, South Carolina, that thirty billion dollar fund that your parents and many of us have been paying into via utility bill. You pay a fee on the use of your electricity that goes into a fund that funded all the exploration of Yucca Mountain, up to two hundred thirty billion, South Carolina was the third highest paying state. So the president of the administration basically said “Thank you for the billions you’ve sent to us. We’ll keep the money, you keep your own nuclear waste.” So that’s basically what happened. We talked about immigration as an executive overreach and before I go to the immigration question, which of the President’s executive actions do you disagree with the most and are there any you agree with?

On The Environmental Protection Agency and Clean Water Act

GOV. JEB BUSH There might be. I mean I’m sure there are non-controversial issues he’s done, but the ones that I know about are the ones I have completely disagreed with, so I’ll give them the benefit of the doubt. I’m assuming that I don’t know all of them because there’s ministerial things the Executive Branch does that do no harm. But the EPA rules the broad interpretation of the Clean Water Act for the Waters of the United States.


GOV. JEB BUSH You’re going to win that one I hope. That is extraordinary. Basically navigable waters was the definition of what federal responsibility went to—no more than that—now the way beyond that to include culverts or basically any water body. You could have a swamp, you know that’s why there should be some rule there, if you have a drainage ditch in your farm or you have a retaining pond out here at the university campus. The federal government should have no say in that but now this law is broadly interpreting this and the EPA no capability of monitoring it. That would be maybe number one. This new ozone rule that just came out, I think that’s on my top five list. DOCA and DOPA I think is clearly unconstitutional. I do think Dream Act kids ought to be treated differently, kids that have no nexus to their parents’ countries, but you do it the right way. You go to Congress, you change the law. If you can’t get it done, you can’t use authority you don’t have. The Clean Power Act—just again I’m not a lawyer, but I’m kind of a nerdy person about this stuff—up until now the interpretation of the Clean Air Act was that the EPA had the ability to regulate inside the fence. So any power plant or any particular industrial use, you could regulate what goes on inside the plant. Now they have, for the first time ever, extended that to create the entire country, and in fact all fifty states now have to have plans to reduce carbon emissions. And just as a reminder we’ve reduced carbon emissions in this country by ten percent in the last decade, not having anything to do with the federal government rules. It happens to be American exceptionalism, American capitalism, American entrepreneurialism, American private property rights, American risk takers having had an explosion of clean natural gas and that has created the reduction in carbon emissions. And every time the command and control crowd in Washington tries to impose these rules, all it does is limit people’s ability to get a job and have rising income. And so across the spectrum of industry, I think this president has gotten it wrong.

ATTORNEY GENERAL ALAN WILSON: You’re absolutely right and you actually answered like four questions on the next page so we’re moving quickly.

GOV. JEB BUSH Tell me one, did I miss one? What is it? Dodd Frank?

ATTORNEY GENERAL ALAN WILSON: Wait for it you’ve been cheating, wait for it.

GOV. JEB BUSH I knew I missed a few so let’s get back to the game.

ATTORNEY GENERAL ALAN WILSON: He keeps answering my questions ahead of time but he mentioned one talking about navigable waters, this is the WOTUS rule, waters of the U.S. Any of you guys studying that, waters of the U.S., navigable waters, Congress? When you think of waters of the U. S. I think of like the Mississippi River right, you know waters that are navigable, interstate connected. What it does is—without getting wonky on you—it basically redefines what a water of the U.S. is, what it means to be navigable to include—I’m oversimplifying but—if you have a ditch running through your private property that occasionally is filled with water during the year, you may fall under that definition and therefore you have to go to the federal government to be able to build on your property or use your property in a different way that’s in conflict with a federal regulation, and that is a very dangerous thing, that is a very dangerous thing.

GOV. JEB BUSH Think of agriculture and its impact.

ATTORNEY GENERAL ALAN WILSON: Forest, agriculture, absolutely.

GOV. JEB BUSH It’d be devastating.

ATTORNEY GENERAL ALAN WILSON: The EPA I refer to as the Eliminate Prosperity Agency, and you seem to address that.

GOV. JEB BUSH I’m going to write that one down.

ATTORNEY GENERAL ALAN WILSON: Write it down, the Eliminate Prosperity Agency.

GOV. JEB BUSH No trademark on that right General?

On Immigration

ATTORNEY GENERAL ALAN WILSON: No I get a nickel every time you use it though, I’ll be watching. I’m going to go back to immigration real quick, we touched on the EPA, immigration we talked about the president’s executive overreach and I talked about how the twenty-seven states have joined Texas in fighting that. What would you do to solve or address the illegal immigration problem in the United States?

GOV. JEB BUSH Well I would use the regular order way of doing it. First of all the president has the authority to enforce the immigration laws which he’s not doing. This is another area of where I think this President more than any other has run amuck, which is he picks and chooses the parts of the law he wants to enforce—that’s dangerous. I don’t believe that has happened to the scale that this guy has done it and so he’s now enforcing the immigration laws selectively. And there’s nothing in the actual law that suggests you have that right to do it. I think you need to enforce the law in a comprehensive way and securing the border obviously is the first duty for the President of the United States and the Executive Branch’s responsibility and that hasn’t been done.

You then go to Congress if there are issues to accommodate that to make it easier to do. I would say that Congress could play a role in expediting E-Verify for example. Congress can play a role in changing the law that’s certainly in appropriations related to the visas over-stayers. Forty percent of all illegal immigrants come with a legal visa, they just stay. Well you need to have the resources to be able to round these folks and up tell them that their visas are expired and it’s time to go. But you also have the possibility of changing laws, we have a family preference system, it is the driver in legal immigration. I would go to Congress and say let’s narrow the number of people coming by family—spouse and minor children being the definition every other country in the world has—we have spouse, minors, adult siblings, adult children, and adult parents. Go to Congress, change the law to narrow that to what every other country has, and then create an economic immigrant category based on need, based on demand, based on potential. So there’s lots of interaction between the Executive and Congress as it relates to immigration but first and foremost, the primary responsibility of the President is to enforce the existing laws rather than picking and choosing the parts that he wants to.

On Federalism and the 10th Amendment

ATTORNEY GENERAL ALAN WILSON: I want to go ahead and switch to another subset area again—all this is interconnected—but federalism in the Tenth Amendment, the proper role.

GOV. JEB BUSH Is this what I think it is? I’m actually curious about you views on immigration.


GOV. JEB BUSH So we have a real restriction for state law enforcement to be part of the immigration enforcement. I believe that there ought to be a much broader interpretation of the law. I think it’s allowed to have contracts between local and state law enforcement with federal immigration officials to expand the reach to create a greater consistency about enforcing the law.


GOV. JEB BUSH We tried and we actually did it, but there was real resistance in the Clinton Administration. They actually said no and I had to wait for the new guys to come in but there’s real restrictions. and I think that’s another place where Congress can play a role is to make it easier for there to be greater communication and coordination between local and state law enforcement with the federal agencies.

ATTORNEY GENERAL ALAN WILSON: We tried to do it here in South Carolina and the Administration told us no. I was talking to some of the justice officials who came down to talk to us about the laws being passed by the General Assembly and they said listen, “You arrest people, you can’t make us take them.” If local law enforcement picks up an illegal immigrant, if he is being pursued by law enforcement for speeding or whatever reason, we’re going to arrest them and turn them over to the ICE or to the Homeland Security folks. They said, “You can’t do that.” I’m like, “Well you don’t have to take them and we’re supposed to arrest them.” And the point is they didn’t want to do their job, and that that was very disconcerting for me, but switching to the Tenth Amendment and federalism which sounds like an extremely boring area. I know we’re wonky, nerdy guys up here and I know what it sounds like, but the proper role of the state and federal government. So here’s where I’m going to get to be a professor for a minute, I’m going to stand up for this one. Okay our handbook, the Constitution, the first three Articles says ‘Okay Congress here are all the powers you have.’ Second Article says ‘Mr. President these are all your powers, this is the handbook for how you run yourself.’ And Article Three says ‘Judiciary here’s your powers, Supreme Court, this is how you create other inferior courts.’ Those are the powers that are given to the Presidency, the Congress, and the Judiciary. Then after all the Articles are written you get to the Bill of Rights. What’s the last amendment in the Bill of Rights? The Tenth Amendment. What it says—the Tenth Amendment basically says—‘If the powers are not given to you Mr. President, you the members of Congress, or Judiciary, they belong to the states. If they’re not prohibited by the Constitution or delineated in the handbook we’ve given you, the Constitution, it belongs to the states. That is federalism: the role of the states as it relates to the role of the federal government. That was my wonky college professor so I’m not going to tee it up. My question for you is: How would you improve the federal government’s working relationship with the states because it doesn’t seem to be going too well right now.

GOV. JEB BUSH No I mean it’s been creeping, the power to Washington has been creeping kind of, without a big debate. More and more consolidation of power in the last six and a half years there’s a gouge and it is now a massive consolidation of power and the first thing we need to do is to respect the Tenth Amendment, it’s just as important a part of the Bill of Rights as any other and I’m actually going to create a political—this is going be part of my campaign, to delineate in exact detail what we would do to shift power back to the states. And your friend Scott Pruitt who is a great Attorney General from Oklahoma who is leading the pack and saving a spot for you at some point to join that team. But the point would be we would lay out exactly what we should do. Education. The federal government should have no say in the creation of content or the curriculum, you could shift power back you could create Title I money which goes to low income schools. If states wanted to reform their public education system, that money ought to flow with that reform. Early childhood education, DOT, why do we have these earmarks and all sorts of categorical funding from Washington? Because there’s entrenched interests that want to do it. Shift the budgets back to create a bottom-up approach. Wherever possible I think bottom-up is much better than top-down. Bottom-up is twenty-first century, top-down is mid-twentieth century. And we’re not going to survive as the most prosperous country on the face of the earth if we allow our government to maintain these lids on everybody’s aspirations. So EPA, delegate authority to the environmental agencies that do a good job. The job-training programs, push them back. Medicaid ought to be pushed to the states. You take both the programs and the rules and you could restore the Tenth Amendment as important as the First through Ninth. Right now it’s being trampled on.

ATTORNEY GENERAL ALAN WILSON: I’m going to talk about a small issue, Obamacare.

GOV. JEB BUSH Just a small old thing.

On Obamacare

ATTORNEY GENERAL ALAN WILSON: I could just say ‘Obamacare, go’ but I want to frame it a little bit. Twice the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled in very narrow decisions: five-four, upholding Obamacare and its subsidies that fund it. Most recently this past year. So I’m just going to ask kind of an open-ended question and let you wax on because I’m very interested in your answer and I think I’ve heard most of your answer in other interviews you’ve done. Would you work to repeal Obamacare if elected President, and if so what would you replace it with?

GOV. JEB BUSH Yes, yes I would. Talking about the Tenth Amendment and just generally, where power should reside? First of all it should reside outside of government wherever possible, it should reside in our families, we should be in power to make these decisions ourselves. And Obamacare took a dysfunctional insurance system—a third-party-payer system where people weren’t engaged in many cases in their own healthcare decisions—and put it on steroids and shifted the power back up to Washington D.C. This President, a great example of why Obamacare is such a disaster, it is two thousand four hundred forty-nine pages I think. Thousands and thousands of pages of rules and he’s picking and choosing the parts of it he wants to apply, he’s ignoring parts of the law and enforcing other parts of the law. The bigger you allow government to get, the more corrupt it becomes, that is a form of corruption. If the law says X then we should faithfully execute on that and he’s not doing it. He’s doing whatever politically is the best, easiest path to be able to have the federal government take over one seventh of the healthcare system—the economy of this country. I think it should be repealed and I think there’s ways to do it related to appropriations and other means, but we also have to have a replacement. And I think you could use tax credits, you could have a high deductible, low premium, catastrophic coverage be the goal for Americans. It ought to be portable, people ought to have the power to make these choices themselves rather than not, and they ought to have the same equal tax treatment as a corporation does that deducts the healthcare expense. You get to think about, how many people here are in the shared economy, that are working part time? Just out of curiosity, like an Uber or something. I mean if you look at the world we’re moving towards, people go to school, they may have two jobs, they may work part time, or they work on contract, they do this and that, that’s the world we’re moving towards. Our healthcare system was designed in 1950 effectively is totally irrelevant to the world we’re moving, we should empower people to be making these decisions. The final thing I’ll suggest: we should tear down every barrier that makes it harder for innovation to take place in healthcare. I mean this watch—the left, and I do this all the time when I’m on TV, gets the twitter universe all up in arms. This is you know, not a real sophisticated watch but five years from now, we’ll have devices that will measure blood sugar, measure our heart rate, will send signals to our caregivers that you haven’t taken your medicine. We will be empowered to make many of the healthcare decisions ourselves and the whole focus on being to accelerate this into our lives so that we reduce disease and improve health and lower costs. And much of what Washington does right now does the exact opposite. It impedes this. It consolidates power amongst a handful of providers rather than disperses it out where you get a lot more innovation and creativity.

On Dodd-Frank

ATTORNEY GENERAL ALAN WILSON: Switching to Dodd Frank, sounds like another boring topic but it’s analogist to what Obamacare is. People who are not familiar with Dodd Frank, it’s a financial regulatory act if you love Obamacare you’ll love Dodd Frank because what Dodd Frank does it centralizes power in the federal government over the regulation of all financial institutions the way the regulation of the healthcare and health insurance industry was centralized to Washington D.C. I actually read a publication by the ABA, the American Bar Association, not known to be really partisan in my favor, but they were talking about it. In twenty-three hundred pages of regulations and laws that Dodd Frank has put out, there wasn’t one mention or one regulatory restriction on Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, which were the two primary reasons for the 2008 financial collapse in the secondary markets. And so that harkens me back to—was it Rahm Emanuel that said ‘Don’t let a serious crisis go to waste’ wanting to create this huge behemoth law to protect consumers from ever having that happen again. It mentions nothing about what caused the initial catastrophe that was the calling for it to be passed.

So you’ve got three kinds of people that jump to mind who need to get access to money. You’ve got people who want to get student loans, people who want to get home loans—a young couple buying their first home, or people who want to get a small business loan. The problem is for a bank to be able to loan ten dollars it’s got to have one dollar in the log right to capitalize itself. But for every dollar that they spend on regulatory compliance, hundreds of thousands of pages of regulations, for every dollar they have to spend on a lawyer or a regulatory compliance officer. That’s ten less dollars they can lend you for your student loan, or your home loan, or your small business loan. So how would you work—by the way we have challenged the constitutionality of Dodd Frank and I’m not going to get into that here—but how would you work to ensure that lines of credit available on Main Street as opposed to Wall Street?

GOV. JEB BUSH Well you’ve got to modify or repeal Dodd Frank because the problem is this whole massive law and the massive rules that go along with it was designed to eliminate the possibility of too big to fail.  But the net effect of the complexity of the law is that we have greater systemic risks, because we now have the largest banks have greater percentage of the assets, it always works this way. And you’re absolutely right the compliance costs are what makes it harder for Main Street to be able to access capital. I’ll tell you a story, I was in Washington, Iowa talking about disrupting Washington D.C. I was with a banker, four branches, one-hundred twenty million dollar asset bank, I’m assuming he might have had at his full potential, a ten to one ratio, he probably had twelve million dollars of capital. I asked him what his compliance and legal costs were pre-Dodd Frank and post-Dodd Frank. One hundred thousand dollars to six hundred thousand dollars. The capitalization to use a business for that, half of a million dollars wipes out half of his equity so it’s more actually than the way you described it.

ATTORNEY GENERAL ALAN WILSON: I was trying to keep it easy, that’s how it was explained to me by makers.

GOV. JEB BUSH In effect you have to shrink the size of your business or you’re not going to be able to provide the capital. This is a bank by the way that had no loan losses during the financial disaster. They know every one of their clients. They didn’t securitize their mortgages and send them off to far off lands. This was a community bank, and it’s no wonder that there are only two community banks set up post-Dodd Frank. An Amish bank in Pennsylvania and a bank in New Hampshire. And there have been thousands of banks that have closed. This is what happens when you allow the top-down driven regulatory system to work, this is what we’ve defaulted to. The better approach would be to shift power away from Washington, and there’s one that I assume is the part that you’re hopefully suing on is the Consumer Finance Protection Bureau, which is an agency that came out of Dodd Frank and has no responsibility to get its appropriations from Congress. There is no single agency that I am aware of in the federal government that does that. To me that is completely unconstitutional.

ATTORNEY GENERAL ALAN WILSON: I thinks its budget comes from a percentage of the Federal Reserve. So they don’t have to go past Congress for appropriations and purse strings, Congress doesn’t have power of the purse when dealing with this.

GOV. JEB BUSH Well guess what they did after the party when they figured this thing is going to be party on for the rest of our lives. They built a building that is like a half-a-million dollar to three-hundred million dollar cost or something like that. Beautiful building.


GOV. JEB BUSH Another structure in Washington, another permanent part of this regulatory system that needs to be challenged.

On the National Labor Relations Board

ATTORNEY GENERAL ALAN WILSON: Now the next area that I want to go into, and I hadn’t been Attorney General I don’t think two or three weeks, when I learned another acronym, one of those alphabet soup government agencies. The NLRB which stands for National Labor Relations Board. Which basically governs the National Labor Relations Act. Boeing, a small start-up company you may have heard of it, was trying to expand its manufacturing operation to North Charleston, South Carolina from over in Washington. While they were expanding here, they were creating several thousand jobs there. The National Labor Relations Board claimed that Boeing was punishing Washington State because it’s a union state. We are a right to work state, which means that you have a right to work without being compelled into a union, to pay union dues, and be a union member. By the way last I looked, a quick little fact about South Carolina. Catherine can answer this, Catherine Templeton. I think South Carolina is the second most pro right to work state in the country I believe.

CT: Least unionized.

ATTORNEY GENERAL ALAN WILSON: Least unionized, that’s the proper way to say it. The second least unionized state in the country so we are very pro right to work here. But we got Boeing and the NLRB eventually backed off but the President during that whole time was silent, when this whole thing was going on. Jobs are being created in both places, it was good for the free market, it was good for both economies in both states but how would you have handled that situation and what kind of people would you want to put on the National Labor Relations Board?

GOV. JEB BUSH I think I would have handled it by not appointing people that got their marching orders from the White House. The idea that he was silent that just—this is how they roll. Effectively they’ve centralized power in the White House and to be blunt about it, the people that are involved in the regulatory agencies—independent and the ones that the President is directly responsible for are comprised of ideologues, political hacks, and academics. That’s a formula for all sorts of crazy things to happen. I think you need to have men and women that have subject matter expertise that have a balanced view on these things. Look, every rule has a social or a societal benefit. The question though is, what’s the economic impact to achieve that benefit? And in most cases economic impacts are far bigger in terms of their negative drain on the society than the societal benefits. So having people that have that view, have that understanding that that’s the proper place for regulation. Shifting power away from Washington would be the first thing. I mean I think you need to start with the premise ‘Does it have to be done in Washington?’ And if it doesn’t, shift it back to the states. If it has to be done in Washington make sure that every—the Clean Air Act as I understand it doesn’t require an economic impact. So in the law that needs to be changed I think, to have an economic impact for every one of these rules, there has to be an economic impact. I think whether it’s the independent agencies like the NLRB or the agencies that report directly to the President, there should be a clear understanding about these things. And this President has not done it, and maybe the best example is the FCC, the Federal Communications Commission. There is a 1930s law that regulates access to the internet, basically it was the law that applied for the one wire line that existed to create a monopoly. This President, against the will of the FCC because they were in the process of creating roles that would be dramatically different, gave a speech about how the access the internet needed to be regulated as though it was a public utility. In fact the rule was then changed after he gave his speech and now we’re regulating the internet using a 1934 law. It defies, I think, common sense to do these things. With this highly centralized approach I think there needs to be a much more humble Executive Branch rather than one that is trying to solve every problem against the will of Congress, and against the will of the people in the country. It’s certainly in many cases against the Constitution.

 On the 2nd Amendment

ATTORNEY GENERAL ALAN WILSON: Before I go to the next area we’ve been talking about the alphabet soup of government agencies that we have either sued or who have sued us, we talked about the Tenth Amendment, the encroachment of the federal government or the blob as I like to refer to it. We talked about the EPA, the NLRB, the Department of Justices, all these agencies. And when you talk about these agencies that are growing I want to educate the audience here to is when I was elected in 2010 along with your Attorney General, Pam Bondi and Scott Pruitt who you mentioned. The Republican Attorneys General were a minority in the country and we have looked back, I’ve looked back fifty years, I haven’t gone back further but I have been told that at no time in the history of the country have there been a majority of Republican AGs. Well in 2014 the Republican Attorneys General Association went into a majority twenty-seven Republican AGs. We actually in this cycle are looking at going up as high as to twenty-eight or maybe even as high as thirty, that’s actually an attainable goal. And the reason I say that is, is because the states are waking up and realizing that the federal government, or the blob, is getting too big and it is reaching too far too fast, and that is why people are electing AGs to promote that I ‘should try to stop and freeze the federal government.’ So we are certainly as Attorneys General looking for a President who is going to keep the federal government in its appropriate and proper lane, in its role to keep it constrained in size. So that was just my educational little factoid, now the question. The Second Amendment, this is South Carolina I don’t need to say anything else beyond that, and I do want to read the Second Amendment. A well-regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed. Do you think the Second Amendment bestows individual rights or rights of the militia?

GOV. JEB BUSH I think it bestows individual rights and I think that’s what needs to be protected. And the best place to sort these issues out is at the state level. The federal government tries to create these one size fits all rules and look, South Carolina’s different from New York City. When I was in Florida as Governor I was the Interracial Statesman of the Year one year it was on my highlight reel where Charlton Heston gave me a gun on stage in front of fifteen thousand people. That was pretty cool to be honest with you. In Florida we believe in concealed weapons permits, it’s a proper thing. We have 1.2 million concealed weapon holders, more than double the next state. We have right to carry and all sorts of rules that are appropriate for Florida, may not be appropriate in other places but the basic right is imbedded in it, it’s a personal right, it’s an individual right to bear arms and that shouldn’t be infringed by either local, state, or federal law for sure. This President—you know the tendency to have these tragedies that took place yesterday, it’s heartbreaking to see these things—but this is the broader question of rulemaking, I think this it’s an important point to make. That whenever you see a tragedy take place, the impulse in the political system more often at the federal level, but also at the state level, is to do something right? And what we end up doing lots of times is we create rules on the 99.999 percent of human activity that had nothing to do with the tragedy that forced the conversation about doing something. And we’re taking people’s rights away each time we do that and we’re not necessarily focusing on the real challenge. So if we have people that are mentally ill to the point where they go into the vortex and they don’t come out and they’re hateful and they’re in isolation and they kill people, the impulse in Washington is take personal rights away from the rest of us and it won’t solve the problem of this tragedy that is just heartbreaking to see. Maybe we ought to be more connected in our communities, maybe we ought to have a greater awareness of the mental health challenges that exist all across this country. Maybe there’s a better way to deal with this than taking people’s personal liberty away any time we have to require people to do something.

ATTORNEY GENERAL ALAN WILSON: I remember after Columbine, this was a long, long time ago, I was listening to the radio they were talking about how schools are not allowed to have prayer interests, you’re not allowed to pray I should say. Or have Christian or Jewish or whatever faith-based groups in these public education schools and the guy said “You know that’s funny if you see a guy in there with an uzi or a handgun shoot a bunch of people that’s the first thing they do after the tragedy, whatever the faith based group is.” They always say if you do this on the front end you don’t have those tragedies on the back end

GOV. JEB BUSH Yeah we’re at a difficult time in our country and I don’t think more government is necessarily the answer for this, I think we need to reconnect ourselves with everybody else. It’s just very sad to see but I resist the notion and I did have this challenge as Governor. Look stuff happens, there’s always a crisis, and the impulse is always to do something but it’s not necessarily the right thing to do.

On Religious Liberty

ATTORNEY GENERAL ALAN WILSON: We merged from the Second Amendment and with it we started talking a little bit about religious liberty just now, and I did that, that was subtle on my part. But I do want to jump into the religious liberty debate and next we’re going to talk about law enforcement so that’s going to be the next area. This area is very important to me for several reasons. We’ve all followed the Kentucky issue, Kim Davis, are y’all familiar with that? The lady who refused to issue the marriage certificate with her name on it. There was a gentleman—I believe in Colorado—who bakes cakes for a living and because of religious objection didn’t bake a cake for a same-sex couple, he was actually ordered by the court to do so and threatened by the state to do so and he got fined and has to report every couple of months. I’ve heard another story where a wedding planner running a chapel required to violate their personal religious convictions. Now the same-sex case—and our verdict failed—this past summer has implications for a lot of different people at a lot of different levels, both people for and against the decision. But what I want to talk to you about is, if you’re the President of the United States there’s going to be some serious cases coming down because I think the Solicitor General when arguing that case, was asked by one of the Supreme Court Justices, said that when asked about the tax exempt status of religious organizations like a Christian university or church who doesn’t want to participate in a same sex ceremony, could their tax exempt status be challenged? And the Solicitor General was forced to admit that yes that could be an issue. Could you expand on that and what do you think you would do as President to protect it?

GOV. JEB BUSH Yeah and saying something to the effect of “that’s not in front of you right now, it could be that case,” it was pretty chilling and some of the opinions in the majority also made reference to that. It was not a clear protection of what has been called the first freedom which is religious conscience. So the First Amendment is this powerful tool of liberty and religious freedom. When the Framers created the Constitution was front and center, it was a key element of the protections from government and so I think a big country like ours—a big tolerant noble country like ours—ought to be able to figure out how to not discriminate against people, in this case not to discriminate against people sexual orientation, but allow people to have enough space to act on their conscience. There are candidates running for Office—not in my party—that have basically said you can have your faith but you can have it only in your house or in the church pews. You can’t have religious conscience, you can’t act on your faith. Well think of the noble things that take place when people act on their conscience based on their faith. They heal the sick, they take care of the homeless, they act on their love for their fellow man that is grounded in their relationship with Jesus or other religions that do the same thing. And so religious conscience means that you should have that space. In the case of the clerk of the court, she should have the right to—based on her conscience—not sign that document, there ought to be some accommodation and the person based on the ruling that you’ve said the couple that went to get their license they should have the right to be able to do that. A baker if someone walked into a bakery and said “I’d like to buy a cake,” and the owner of the bakery said “No. I’m not going to serve you because you’re gay,” that’s wrong. But if that gay couple comes into the bakery and says “I want you to participate in my wedding,” that’s a different subject. It’s a question of conscience, and I don’t view it as an either or thing, I think we should protect rights of people embedded in law, there shouldn’t be discrimination. But we should never abandon one of the core values of our country that is so extraordinary and so special, which is the right of conscience, because it does make a difference and it protects our freedoms by the way and also lessens the demands on government, this is something that is essential to who we are as a nation.

ATTORNEY GENERAL ALAN WILSON: You made a very interesting distinction there when you said a gay person coming in to buy a cake as opposed to a gay couple wanting to get married, and I hadn’t heard that distinction, that’s very interesting.

GOV. JEB BUSH Unfortunately the courts in these states are ruling against what I just described. In other words they’re saying you’re forced to participate in the wedding and people are shunning the photographer I think in New Mexico is an example and the baker in Washington State. That’s wrong, there should be protections for people. In this Administration I don’t think that will be happening, you look at the Little Sisters of the Poor, a religious order that takes care of the poor—that’s all they do, and they’re being forced now for their employees to have contraceptives mandated. And the Obama Administration has tried to provide some protection of this ruling by saying that the insurance companies are mandated, not the religious order, well that’s foolhardy. I mean the religious order should have the ability to not provide contraceptives that goes against a deeply held view, which it does as a Catholic.

ATTORNEY GENERAL ALAN WILSON: So what I heard you say is you believe there is room in our society to accommodate the First Amendment religious views of individuals while protecting the now court given right to same-sex marriage?

GOV. JEB BUSH Yes. So General the solution could be in Kentucky, they’ve found a temporary solution, but the real solution is for the Kentucky legislature to change the law to say that another person can sign that wedding certificate.

ATTORNEY GENERAL ALAN WILSON: And tax exempt statuses of religious organizations should be protected?

GOV. JEB BUSH Absolutely, completely that way, and that’s the next threat. That I think is the next place where the coercive powers of government will move to be able to change behavior. And you think about Catholic charities, I mean there are many other great groups, but Catholic charities do extraordinary work all across this country and in many places now threatened by lawsuits, they’re pulling back and people suffer because of that. This is the end result of this, people that are hungry, people who are homeless, people that are inflicted with disease, sick elders. Catholic communities play a huge role in that, that they can’t play if it isn’t altogether true, that that void is filled by other groups.

On Law Enforcement

ATTORNEY GENERAL ALAN WILSON: Now this is, I teed you up to law enforcement because this is something that’s very important to me as chief prosecutor of the state of South Carolina, I have to work with law enforcement all across the state. And of course we’ve all seen what our country’s gone through over the last several years, one tragedy after another. Sometimes it involves law enforcement, sometimes it involves poor decisions by law enforcement but overall tens of thousands of arrests and stops are made every day and there’s been no tragedy that came from it. Just this past week a local police officer in Columbia was thirty-two years old, married with a six month old, who lost his life at a stop in downtown Columbia. In fact the guy who killed him was tazed, not shot, tazed. And another law enforcement officer in Las Vegas, Nevada was attacked at a stoplight and shot in the hand, but they were able to apprehend that guy without killing him. So officers all around the country are being engaged, attacked, and not using excessive force, but we don’t hear about them as often, we hear about the unfortunate situations. As President, how do you support—and I know that a federal government person would not be involved in local law enforcement—but how do you as President, support state and local law enforcement?

GOV. JEB BUSH Well first of all you show respect toward them, you go to the every year there is a memorial service for the slain law enforcement officers. When I was Governor I did it eight years in a row to show respect because it’s the ultimate sacrifice for protecting our communities and families suffer mightily when their loved one dies. If the Presidency were a public job like Attorney General or Governor, you show respect and you do it in a consistent manner and I would certainly do that. You resist the temptation to do something when there are these isolated cases where policemen make the wrong decisions and there was a tragic result. There isn’t enough evidence for me to suggest that law enforcement doesn’t get it right with a great, great majority of the time so I don’t want to pose a federal solution on a problem that doesn’t exist. Ultimately this goes back to a philosophy that I deeply, really believe which is our country does things better from the bottom-up. The Founders got that, they understood that, that was at the core of the Constitution to restrict government power the document that has been our blueprint now for all these years and I think we need to get back to that. And so if there’s a law enforcement problem like Ferguson where it looked like there might have been a disconnect between the community and law enforcement. The mayor and the public leaders should forge trusting and if they ask for help from the Governor then the Governor comes to their aid. The President can create a better environment, I think, to talk about these things in broader terms, in a more unified way. And sometimes the President sees this and sometimes he’s busy, but the simple fact is that we don’t have to have a federal branch solution or an executive branch solution to everything that goes on in our lives.

On Guantanamo Bay (Gitmo)

ATTORNEY GENERAL ALAN WILSON: This is the last question and I’m going to give you the chance to close it up but the reason I’m asking is because South Carolina was mentioned in something about this but the terrorism area, the fact that they might close down Gitmo and move the terrorists and detainees to Charleston, South Carolina and Kansas was also mentioned. What do you think?



GOV. JEB BUSH Let me be clear it’s not because it’s Charleston. It’s because Gitmo there is no option for these folks they should stay where they are even if it’s expensive and it’s the nicest prison you will ever want to be in by the way and the rights of these terrorists are waived beyond what a lot of people get in a lot of different circumstances. They’re not being mistreated at all. There is no other option.