In Jeb Bush's Washington, the federal workforce would shrink, a president would earn back line-item veto powers and former lawmakers wouldn't be able to lobby old colleagues for at least six years.
The former Florida governor and Republican presidential candidate on Monday embraced a series of fix-it plans that congressional Republicans and watchdog groups have tried failed to enact for decades. Democrats noted that many of Bush's wealthy supporters would be directly affected by the changes.
"Should I win this election, you will not find me deferring to the settled ways of 'Mount Washington,'" he said during a speech at Florida State University. "The overspending, the overreaching, the arrogance, and the sheer incompetence in that city -- these problems have been with us so long that they are sometimes accepted as facts of life. But a president should never accept them, and I will not."
As a gubernatorial candidate in the 1990s, Bush derided what he called "Mount Tallahassee," a city where lawmakers and lobbyists grew too cozy. Now, as a presidential candidate, he tells voters how he slashed $2 billion in spending and helped cut the state payroll by roughly 13,000 public sector workers, all while Florida's economy grew at roughly 4 percent annually -- thanks partly to a housing boom that later fizzled.
Bush, a professed policy wonk, sometimes sounded on Monday like a White House budget director or lawmaker pining to be Speaker of the House as he ticked off a series of potential reforms.
He endorsed a federal worker attrition plan Republicans have unsuccessfully pursued for years that would replace every three departing federal workers with just one new hire. He backed a GOP plan to partially restore the line-item veto by letting the White House demand a separate up-or-down vote on spending items a president dislikes. And he said he likes military contracting reforms unveiled in March that would strip away many of the mundane hurdles faced by Pentagon contracting officers.
Most boldly, Bush proposed a six-year "cooling off" period for former lawmakers who want to be lobbyists -- an aggressive expansion of current law. Once a House lawmaker leaves office, they must wait one year before actively lobbying former colleagues; senators must wait two years.
"We need to help politicians to rediscover life outside of Washington, which -- who knows? -- might even be a pleasant surprise for them," he said.
Bush said he wanted lawmakers to publish on their official Web site any time they meet with lobbyists -- including people who work in "government relations" or "government affairs." And he would also expand President Obama's current policy of banning departing executive branch officials from lobbying the administration.
The changes would have an adverse affect on Washington's $3.2 billion lobbying industry, and several former lawmakers-turned-lobbyists dismissed Bush's ideas as unworkable.
"It's over the top," said former Rep. Tom Davis (R-Va.), who works for Deloitte, the consulting giant. He suggested that online reporting requirements would violate the constitutional right to petition the government.
"Shouldn’t a congressman be able to meet with some expert without the world knowing about it?" he said. "Why would Congress want to give that authority up?"
Davis said he likes Bush as a candidate, but suggested the former governor might have other motives: "If you’re a Bush, running against Washington is a lot harder than if you’re other people."
Former Rep. Henry Waxman (D-Calif.), who once chaired the powerful Energy and Commerce Committee, called Bush's plan "far-reaching."
"It sounds good – just like President Obama’s proposals sounded good not to hire former lobbyists – but then he ended up depriving his administration of some very good talent," he said.
Obama banned lobbyists from serving in his administration except in limited circumstances. Since the ban began in 2009, at least 61 executive branch employees have received waivers from parts of the ethics pledge.
Waxman retired this year after 40 years in Congress and now works for a public relations and consulting shop established by his son. A vocal supporter of environmental protections and health-care reform, Waxman said he works "only for those clients and those causes that I advocated for in Congress. ... I have no apologies to make for that."
Two former lawmakers-turned-lobbyists who are active Bush supporters, Republicans Tom Loeffler (Tex.) and Vin Weber (Minn.), didn't return requests for comment.
Bush's campaign and allied groups raised an unprecedented $119 million for his presidential bid in the last quarter. The campaign raised $11.4 million, with the rest raised by an allied super PAC and another leadership PAC. Given the size of the haul, Bush has faced criticism from some of his GOP rivals -- including business magnate Donald Trump -- that the large sums mean he might one day reward top donors representing interest groups or corporations.
Eight lobbyists raised a collective $228,400 for Bush during the second quarter, according to Federal Election Commission filings submitted by the campaign Wednesday. The top bundlers including William P. Killmer of the Mortgage Banking Association, who raised $36,200; Ignacio Sanchez, co-chair of the lobbying practice at DLA Piper, who raised $32,400; and Al Cardenas, former chairman of the Republican Party of Florida and now a lobbyist at Squire Patton Boggs, who helped bring in $18,900.
A number of lobbyists, though not bundlers, also contributed the individual limit of $2,700 to Bush's campaign. They include Kirk Blalock of Fierce Government Relations, David Beightol and Brian Sailer of Flywheel Government Solutions and Josh Holly of Podesta Group. And Bush drew support from top lobbyists within major corporations including Maria Cino of Hewlett-Packard, Matt Niemeyer of Goldman Sachs and Woody Simmons Jr. of Verizon Communications.
Bush also said Monday that he would push Congress to pass legislation that would withhold pay from lawmakers who miss votes.
"A bill to dock the pay of absentee members might not pass the House or Senate, but at least it would get them all there for a vote," he said.
Catherine Ho contributed to this report.