Former President George W. Bush was in Manhattan Tuesday, weighing in on taxes, a topic also being addressed in Florida by the current Commander in Chief. Not surprisingly, they had different opinions on an issue that could become a hot topic on the campaign trail. Josh Robin has the story.
UNITED STATES -- As President Obama was in Florida demanding higher taxes for the rich, his predecessor was in New York arguing for just the opposite.
“If you raise taxes on the so-called rich, you're really raising taxes on the job creators."
It was a striking political entree for the 43rd president. He began the conference his foundation is sponsoring by insisting he wants to largely stay out of national politics. But with two tax cuts he signed in his term due to expire and his economic legacy under attack by the White House, Bush is trying to reshape opinion this election year.
"You notice, I've been mentioning private sector growth. The truth of the matter is if the goal was public sector growth, it'd be a short conference, which is raise taxes," said Bush.
Others were blunter.
"We're turning into a paternalistic, entitlement society. That will not just bankrupt us financially. It will bankrupt us morally," said New jersey Governor Chris Christie.
The current president attacked today's Republican leaders. But his spokesman called out Bush personally, noting economic growth under the previous administration is well below what it is today. Republicans, meanwhile, were happy to blame democrats for the slow recovery.
"We don't like the direction the president's taking the country. We think he is putting the country on a very dangerous path, on a path that is a government-centered society. On a path to debt and decline. And we believe that if we follow this path, it will not end well for anybody," said Representative Paul Ryan.
On a lighter note, Bush was reflective on several topics, on the tax cuts that bear his name.
Bush said, "I wish they weren't called the Bush tax cuts. If they were called some other body's tax cuts, they'd probably be less likely to be raised."
He says he misses being commander in chief, but not so much the other parts of his job. Except one perk that cuts down travel time in Manhattan.
"it was inconvenient to have to stop at some stop lights coming over here,” He said. “I guess I miss that."