CONCORD, N.H. — Jeb Bush … put a bit more space between himself and his brother, part of a slow-motion and seemingly reluctant distancing effort as he moves toward a White House bid.
After being asked by a questioner at a sports bar here whether there is any “space” between the Bush brothers on issues, Jeb Bush pointed to the scale of government spending during the George W. Bush presidency.
“I think that in Washington, during my brother’s time, Republicans spent too much money,” Jeb Bush said. “I think he could have used the veto power — he didn’t have line-item veto power, but he could have brought budget discipline to Washington, D.C.”
Total federal spending grew from $1.86 trillion in 2001 to nearly $3 trillion in 2008, an annual growth rate of 7 percent. Spending in President Obama’s first six years has had an annual growth rate of about 4 percent.
Bush’s fiscal criticism is the most direct critique to date of his brother’s presidency. He has said that “mistakes were made” during the Iraq war, but he otherwise avoids directly criticizing his brother or his father, George H.W. Bush, another former president.