Jeb Bush Against Obamacare: Is He Credible?

He is now calling it a “monstrosity,” but the history of Jeb Bush against Obamacare is mostly silence and massive corporate profits.


Jeb Bush did once rail against Obamacare. But he waited until it had passed and was headed for Obama’s desk and infamous pen. On March 22, 2010, Jeb Bush railed against the Affordable Care Act as a “huge new entitlement” while appearing on Fox News. I’m sure his audience loved what he had to say. I would have if I had been watching that night.

But before the law was passed by the House and Senate, Bush said almost nothing. I don’t mean he didn’t say anything. I mean the little he did say almost seems like nothing in terms of substance. Byron York has done the homework at the Washington Examiner. Gary Bauer of American Values has accused Jeb Bush of being AWOL on Obamacare and York says that Bauer was “basically right.”

In 2009 and early 2010, as Obamacare made its troubled way through Congress, Bush — a respected former two-term Republican governor of Florida with solid conservative credentials — remained mostly silent about the biggest public policy fight in a generation.

Bush statements that even tangentially touched on the Affordable Care Act were few and far between. In March 2009, for example, as the battle was just beginning, Bush penned an op-ed calling for conservatives to be the “loyal opposition” in the face of far-reaching Democratic initiatives. He added: “Simply opposing the massive encroachment of government into health care won’t solve the problem of affordability of health insurance for many Americans.”

A couple of months later, in May 2009, when Bush joined fellow Republicans Eric Cantor and Mitt Romney on a “listening tour” Bush said: “It’s time for us to listen first, to learn a little bit, to upgrade our message a little bit and to not be nostalgic about the past. You can’t beat something with nothing, and the other side has something. I don’t like it but they have it and we have to be respectful and mindful of that.”

That’s pretty much it for 2009 and early 2010, as the health care battle raged on Capitol Hill.

Throughout those years, Bush sat on the Board of Directors for Tenet Healthcare, one of those hospital companies that is doing quite well due to Obamacare. Bush just left the company in preparation for his Presidential run.

Byron writes,

I asked [Bush spokesman Tim] Miller whether Bush’s near-silence on Obamacare was the result of his place on the Tenet board. “Absolutely not,” Miller said. “He forcefully advocated against it in board meetings, to the point that it bubbled up in public. When asked about it, he was very clear that he was in opposition to it.”

What Miller meant by “bubbled up in public” was a line in a New York Times article in 2014 — years after Obamacare became law — which reported: “Tenet’s chief executive, Trevor Fetter, said Mr. Bush had made no secret of his objections to the health care overhaul at company meetings. But [Fetter] suggested that Mr. Bush understood the difference between ‘personal views and what is best for the company.’ Mr. Fetter predicts that in 2014, the Affordable Care Act will deliver up to $100 million in new earnings for Tenet.”

In 2010, Jeb Bush did campaign for several Republicans running for the House or Senate who promised to repeal Obamacare.

So that’s it. Bush has made massive profits from Obamacare and there are friends of his who claim he spoke against it at the time. He helps some anti-Obamacare candidates for the 2010 election. And he spoke out against it himself after it was passed.

Is this the record we want from the person we hope will be elected President in 2016?