It sounds like a good idea:
Portraying himself as a political outsider — despite his family’s 12 years in the White House — Mr. Bush called for a 10 percent reduction in the federal work force, an immediate hiring freeze, a constitutional amendment requiring a balanced budget and a six-year waiting period before members of Congress can lobby on Capitol Hill.
Just so you don't think Jeb! is a mean and heartless man, readying himself to flood DC with pink slips, his civil service trimming comes with an important caveat:
Mr. Bush said his policies could reduce the size of the federal work force by 10 percent in four years. Much of that, he said, would be accomplished through attrition and a strict system of replacing every three departing federal workers with one new employee.
It was often said of Mitt Romney that he spoke conservatism as a second language. It would be unfair to describe Jeb Bush in quite that way. Change his last name to Smith, and change his mind on Common Core, and you have, all in all, a pretty conservative guy. Yet his proposals have a focus group feel to them; they sounds like something he's suppose to say.
Shrinking the number of people who work for the federal governments does NOT necessarily shrink the federal government. It's easy enough to spend more money with fewer people handling it. It's even easier to contract out government work to private companies. Does it really matter if the IRS' own employees are harassing you or if they've out sourced the bullying to someone else? President Jeb's 10% rule won't simply be broken; it's going to get drop kicked into oblivion.
The deeper you dig the less impressive Jeb's proposals become. The balanced budget amendment has been a conservative chestnut for decades. Yet it's gone precisely nowhere. If your job depends on bribing some people with other people's money, including those yet unborn, it would be bad business to make your job much, much harder. No self-serving politician would vote for a balanced budget amendment. Since the self-serving make up a working majority of Congress and all 50 state legislatures the idea will remain a dead letter.
Extending the lobbying ban for ex-law makers is - admittedly - an interesting twist. But again the devil is in the details. If you stretch the definition of lobbyist and lobbying far enough, safe in the knowledge that any oversight will come from people who are planning post political careers on K Street, the new law will be as useless as the current law. The source of lobbying isn't lobbyists, it's the massive size of the federal government. Until it gets hacked down to a manageable size curbs on lobbying are cosmetics for those who aren't paying attention.
The word that comes to mind is disappointing. Even staunch critics of a possible Bush 3.0 Presidency have to wonder why Jeb! is phoning it in so early in the cycle. When you get past the unimaginative nature of the proposals you're left with a kind of cynical pandering to the base. There is that uneasy sense that the former Florida Governor is patting us on the head.