Republican candidate Bush vows Washington culture shake-up

Jeb Bush: Washington Needs 'Balanced Budget Amendment'

U.S. Republican presidential hopeful Jeb Bush vowed on Monday to cut government spending and more tightly limit lawmakers' connections with lobbyists if he reaches the White House, part of an attempt to separate himself from a large pack of Republican rivals.

Bush proposed a federal balanced budget amendment and presidential line-item veto power, as well as a freeze on government hiring.

"It will not be my intention to preside over the establishment, but in every way I know to disrupt that establishment and make it accountable to the people," Bush, the former Florida governor, said in a speech in state capital Tallahassee.

Bush, whose father and brother both served as U.S. president, has been eager to distance himself from Washington or any appearance of continuing a political dynasty.

He has pointed to his record in Florida to cast himself as a reformer and distinguish himself among the 15 Republicans seeking the party's nomination for the November 2016 presidential election.

Jeb Bush through the years:

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Republican candidate Bush vows Washington culture shake-up
President George Bush chats with brother Gov. Jeb Bush as they acknowledge cheering supporters at a fundraiser for the Republican Party of Florida at the Contemporary Resort at Disney World in Orlando, Florida, Friday, February 17, 2006. (Photo by Joe Burbank/Orlando Sentinel/MCT via Getty Images)
MACDILL AIR FORCE BASE, UNITED STATES: US President George W. Bush (R) reaches out to shake hands with his brother Florida Governor Jeb Bush (L) shortly after Air Force One arrived at MacDill Air Force Base, Florida, 09 May 2006. AFP Photo/Paul J. Richards (Photo credit should read PAUL J. RICHARDS/AFP/Getty Images)
Washington, UNITED STATES: US President George W. Bush (L) looks on as his brother Florida Governor Jeb Bush speaks 19 April, 2006. Governor Bush was among several governors who met with the president after an Easter trip to Iraq, Afghanistan and Kuwait. AFP PHOTO/Jim WATSON (Photo credit should read JIM WATSON/AFP/Getty Images)
President George Bush (left) and brother Gov. Jeb Bush acknowledge cheering supporters at a fundraiser for the Republican Party of Florida at the Contemporary Resort at Disney World in Orlando, Florida, Friday, February 17, 2006. (Photo by Joe Burbank/Orlando Sentinel/MCT via Getty Images)
ST. PETERSBURG, FL - OCTOBER 19: U.S. President George W. Bush (L) and his brother Florida Governor Jeb Bush (R) smile while greeting supporters during a campaign rally at Progress Energy Park October 19, 2004 in St. Petersburg, Florida. Recent polls indicate Bush is maintaining a slight lead over his Democratic challenger U.S. Sen. John Kerry (D-MA). (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)
PARK CITY, UT - JANUARY 22: Jeb Bush is seen at Salt Lake City Airport on January 22, 2015 in Park City, Utah. (Photo by JOCE/Bauer-Griffin/GC Images)
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The Democratic National Committee said Bush exaggerated his achievements. "What we have seen from Jeb Bush before, we will see again: greater income inequality, sky high debt, allegiances to lobbyists, and a failed economic agenda that benefits the wealthy," spokeswoman Christina Freundlich said.

Bush called for change in what he cast as a calcified culture of spending and lack of oversight in Washington, D.C. He said a federal balanced budget amendment would be a tool to limit government, "not raise taxes."

On his plan to freeze federal hiring, he said he would replace just one worker out of every three federal employees who leave. He said the president should have "constitutionally sound" line-item veto power to eliminate spending measures from legislation approved by Congress.

Bush said his use of the line-item veto as Florida governor earned him the nickname "Veto Corleone" after a character in the movie "The Godfather." He said he vetoed spending proposals by both Democrats and Republicans.

Line-item veto authority in many U.S. states lets governors strike provisions of bills without rejecting the entire legislation. Congress authorized presidential line-item vetoes in 1996, but the U.S. Supreme Court ruled the law unconstitutional.

Bush said lawmakers should have to disclose when they meet with lobbyists, and members of the House of Representatives and Senate should have to wait six years before they can lobby former colleagues.

"We need to help politicians to rediscover life outside of Washington, which - who knows? - might even be a pleasant surprise for them," Bush said.

Currently, members of the House have a one-year cooling off period, and senators must wait two years before lobbying.

Bush also drew applause from the audience with a dig at Republican rival Donald Trump, the brash businessman who drew fire over the weekend for saying U.S. Senator John McCain was only considered a hero because he was captured during the Vietnam War.

Bush departed from prepared remarks to describe McCain as "a real hero."

(Reporting by Emily Stephenson in Washington, Luciana Lopez in New York and Bill Cotterell in Tallahassee; Editing by Bill Rigby and David Gregorio)

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