Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush speaks at the National Automobile Dealers Association convention in San Francisco on Jan. 23, 2015.
Jeff Chiu—AP
By Zeke J Miller
February 4, 2015

Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush will lay out the case for his “reform conservative” agenda in Detroit Wednesday, with a speech intended to broaden the reach of the Republican Party and focus the coming presidential campaign on the economic plight of the American middle class.

“I know some in the media think conservatives don’t care about the cities,” Bush plans to say to the Detroit Economic Club, in what amounts to the first policy address of his unofficial presidential campaign. “But they are wrong. We believe that every American and in every community has a right to pursue happiness. They have a right to rise.”

He will promise a “new vision,” with many details to come later, contrasting what Americans have been hearing from Washington, with a focus on raising incomes by ensuring “economic freedom.” Many of the remarks hit marks that politicians in both parties have been speaking about for years: The fear that the next generation of Americans will be worse off than the last, the preference for political solutions that arise in the state government and the idea that policy innovation is central to the nation’s economic future.

Coming amid an aggressive fundraising and staffing surge by the all-but-certain presidential contender, the speech marks Bush’s first attempt to define himself on the public stage. In recent weeks, Bush has benefited from positive reception from party leaders and wealthy donors, along with veteran campaign staff who have moved to join his campaign in waiting. But he has yet to publicly make his case for the White House.

“The recovery has been everywhere but in the family paychecks,” Bush will say according to prepared excerpts, embracing the income inequality theme recently touted by many other likely Republican presidential candidates. “The American Dream has become a mirage for far too many.”

He is set to criticize Washington, DC, the city where his father and brother both served as president, as city too focused on government,

“This really isn’t understood in Washington D.C. And you can see why: It’s a company town,” Bush will say. “And the company is government. It’s all they know. For several years now, they have been recklessly degrading the value of work, the incentive to work, and the rewards of work.”

The Des Moines Register reported Wednesday that Bush will make his inaugural trip to the early state of Iowa next month.

“So I say: Let’s go where our ideas can matter most,” Bush will continue. “Where the failures of liberal government are most obvious. Let’s deliver real conservative success. And you know what will happen? We’ll create a whole lot of new conservatives.”

The excerpts are below:

How do we restore America’s faith in the moral promise of our great nation that any child born today can reach further than their parents?
This is an urgent issue: Far too many Americans live on the edge of economic ruin.
And many more feel like they’re stuck in place, working longer and harder, even as they’re losing ground.
Tens of millions of Americans no longer see a clear path to rise above their challenges.

Today and in the coming weeks, I will address this critical issue.
And I will offer a new vision. A plan of action that is different than what we have been hearing in Washington D.C.
It is a vision rooted in conservative principles and tethered to our shared belief in opportunity and the unknown possibilities of a nation given the freedom to act, to create, to dream and to rise.

Six years after the recession ended, median incomes are down, households are, on average, poorer … and millions of people have given up looking for a job altogether.
Roughly two out of three American households live paycheck to paycheck. Any unexpected expense can push them into financial ruin. We have a record number of Americans on food stamps and living in poverty.
The recovery has been everywhere but in the family paychecks. The American Dream has become a mirage for far too many.
So the central question we face here in Detroit and across America is this: Can we restore that dream — that moral promise — that each generation can do better?

Our nation has always valued such economic freedom because in economic freedom, each citizen has the power to propel themselves forward and upward.
This really isn’t understood in Washington D.C. And you can see why: It’s a company town. And the company is government. It’s all they know.
For several years now, they have been recklessly degrading the value of work, the incentive to work, and the rewards of work.

The progressive and liberal mindset believes that to every problem there is a Washington D.C. solution. But that instinct doesn’t solve any problem, other than the problem of how to keep Washington’s regional economy well-lubricated.

There’s a better way.
Let’s define this path first by the core principles of a Right to Rise society because once we do that, the policies, the laws and the way forward will be much clearer.

And in the coming months, I intend to detail how we can get there, with a mix of smart policies and reforms to tap our resources and capacity to innovate, whether in energy, manufacturing, health care or technology.

…Let’s embrace reform everywhere, especially in our government. Let’s start with the simple principle of who holds the power. I say give Washington less and give states and local governments more.

I know some in the media think conservatives don’t care about the cities.
But they are wrong. We believe that every American and in every community has a right to pursue happiness. They have a right to rise.
So I say: Let’s go where our ideas can matter most. Where the failures of liberal government are most obvious. Let’s deliver real conservative success.
And you know what will happen?
We’ll create a whole lot of new conservatives.

This morning, 320 million Americans got up … and they are on 320 million different paths of life.
It’s our goal to see them succeed.
And it’s our responsibility to do everything possible to help them.
Because by their success, they will not only build prosperity for themselves. They will renew the promise of this nation when everyone, has the right to rise.

Contact us at editors@time.com.

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