Jeb Bush attacks Hillary Clinton, Donald Trump on economy, growth

Republican presidential candidate, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, details his tax reform plan in a speech at Morris & Associates in Garner, N.C., Wednesday, Sept. 9, 2015. (AP Photo/Gerry Broome)

Gerry Broome, AP

In a policy speech laying out his economic proposals, Bush couldn't resist taking shots at the frontrunners in the 2016 race: Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton, who he said just "may not believe" we can grow the economy."

"We've had six full years of tax increases, endless new regulation, vast new federal programs, and eight trillion dollars borrowed and spent," Bush said Wednesday during a campaign stop at Morris & Associates, a North Carolina manufacturer. "And what has it gotten us? This so-called 'new normal' of slow growth, flat wages, and millions of men and women - often people in the prime of their working lives - who've lost all hope of a good, full-time job."

The Republican hopeful pledged Wednesday that his policies would grow the U.S. economy at a rate of four percent while adding 19 million new jobs. Some economics have called the promise overly ambitious - a criticism which Bush's campaign has disputed as "defeatist."

On Wednesday, he charged that his competitors for the White House aren't as optimistic as he is about America's capacity for growth.

Bush told workers at the industrial equipment plant that Clinton "doesn't believe that we can grow faster than two percent, because she doesn't believe in your ability to rise to the challenge."

Clinton has frequently targeted Bush in her own economic pitches and has even slammed the Republican candidate for his earlier comments that "people need to work longer hours."

Bush also suggested that both Clinton and Trump have little faith in the American workforce.

"Through hard work, ingenuity, and know-how, we will compete with the world and we will win," Bush added. "Secretary Clinton and Mr. Trump may not believe we can do it, but I do."

Instead, the former Florida governor promised that his own economic agenda "will create a true revival of the private sector."

Bush previewed his proposals Tuesday with an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal, laying out a vision to simplify the tax code, which he called an 80,000-page "disaster."

"It's a tax code only an army of accountants and lobbyists would love, because they've written it," Bush said. "It's full of special favors, carve-outs, phase-outs and subsidies - that you pay for, one way or another."

He proposed cutting down on the number of income brackets from seven to three. The brackets would then be taxed at 10 percent, 25 percent, and 28 percent. The highest current bracket is taxed at 39.6 percent.

"With the highest rate set at 28 percent, we will have returned to the structure enacted in President Ronald Reagan's monumental and successful 1986 tax reform," Bush said.

The conservative Republican even struck a populist tone in his speech, promising that those earning $200,000 or more would still take on the greater share of the income tax burden. Bush's campaign also estimates that at least 15 million more families would pay no income taxes.

Bush also suggested slashing the corporate tax rate, cutting it down from 35 percent to 20 percent. He also intends to end taxing overseas profits so that "for once, the U.S. will be a low-tax place to do business and create high-wage jobs."