Former Florida Gov. Bush visits region for leadership forum

Published 9:21 am Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Star Photo/Curtis Carden                           Former Florida Governor Jeb Bush served as the keynote speaker for the Mountain States leadership forum held at MeadowView Conference Resort & Convention Center Monday afternoon.

Star Photo/Curtis Carden
Former Florida Governor Jeb Bush served as the keynote speaker for the Mountain States leadership forum held at MeadowView Conference Resort & Convention Center Monday afternoon.

One of the 2016 Republican Party presidential candidates made an appearance in Kingsport to provide insight to some of the top leaders in the medical field in Tennessee and Virginia.
Former Florida Governor Jeb Bush served as the keynote speaker for the Mountain States leadership forum on Monday at MeadowView Conference Resort & Convention Center. The forum, which featured 550 leaders throughout the Mountain States health system, is held each quarter and includes special guest speakers to provide stories of leadership and experiences. Past speakers include former U.S. House Speaker Newt Gingrich, former CEO of Wal-Mart USA Bill Simon, U.S. Marines Major General Scott Hartsell and U.S. Department of Health & Human Services Assistant Secretary for Health Karen DeSalvo, M.D.
Following his speech to attendees, Bush fielded questions on a variety of topics from the media.
One of the topics included the pending merger between Mountain States Health Alliance and Wellmont Health System to create Ballad Health to service Northeast Tennessee and Southwest Virginia.
“I don’t know all the details, but I think the merger makes a lot of sense given the commitments being made by the leadership of both organizations to expand services to the community here,” Bush said. “Whether it is mental health services or creating maybe what could be a model for the rest of the country to deal with opioid abuse. These are huge challenges in the country and it would great to see this community become a nationwide leader.”
The former elected official also put on his political hat to field questions about what’s currently going on in the country since the election of Donald Trump as the nation’s next president.
While adding he’s hoping President-Elect Trump will succeed, he added there are steps that need to be made moving forward.
“Right now, our brand is tarnished,” Bush said about the Republican Party. “Theirs (the Democratic Party) is too. The other team doesn’t really have any good ideas either. There’s a period where we can renew and I’m pretty optimistic that we can do it.”
With the Republican Party holding the majority in Congress and set to take over office in the new year, Bush added that opportunities are endless to help the country.
“We’ve got a chance from this election with Republicans in control of Congress and the White House to implement some big ideas,” Bush said. “Those would range from regulatory reform in a dramatically different way … the big changes there would be to help the economy. We want to grow manufacturing jobs, but we can’t have an EPA that’s running around stifling investments in the country.
“We have the most convoluted tax code in the world,” he continued. “The incoming administration and Congress is poised to reform taxes to simplify the code. I would prefer to eliminate all crony capitalism. All special deals, all tax credits designed to achieve a social good and lower marginal rates for every dollar of elimination of car bats so we can be the most competitive country on the face of the earth.”
Other ideas Bush spoke of included getting government out of businesses, providing an example of spending for education.
“The big idea would be to shift power back to the states, not just the power of education but money,” he said. “If a state wanted to take title loan money, which is designed to help low-income students, and wanted to give it to low-income parents rather than to the bureaucracy you should have the right to do that.”
Bush also commended the efforts of President-elect Trump for selecting his incoming cabinet, adding the picks are going to be key in addressing issues, including energy, coal, education and safety.
“You think of General (James) Mattis, one of the most respected military leaders, as defense secretary,” Bush said. “Betsy DeVos as Education Secretary … she’s got a heart for empowering parents to make more choices for their children. Scott Pruitt, EPA administrator, he’s a phenomenal choice … and many others. I’ve been impressed with his picks.”
The issue of the debate cycle was also brought up Monday afternoon.
“The good news is there are a lot more people watching the debates, but these debates are really not debates in the sense of debating issues,” he said. “They’re more shock … you have to answer the question in a way that gets your message out. It’s more performance-oriented. It would be nice to see more of a debate but it’s hard to do that with nine people on stage.
“I thought the general election did allow for more fuller discussion on the issues,” he continued. “But we’re in a personality driven era. What you say on Twitter matters just about as much as what you say in a press gathering. (I’m) not sure that’s great for the country overall, but it is what it is.”

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