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article imageOp-Ed: Bush's 'people need to work longer hours' remark stirs Democrat ire

By Megan Hamilton     Jul 10, 2015 in Politics
Hudson - On Wednesday, Jeb Bush sparked a kerfuffle when he said that "people should work longer hours" in order to improve economic prosperity. The Bush campaign argues this was a reference to part-time workers who are underemployed.
Fortunately, the Democrats didn't miss this opportunity to beat him upside the head with his own words.
Speaking during an interview that was live-streamed on Periscope, the Republican presidential candidate told The Union Leader, a New Hampshire newspaper, that to grow the economy, "people should work longer hours."
Bush was responding to a question about his plans for tax reform. This is what he said, according to Yahoo! News:
"My aspiration for the country and I believe we can achieve it, is four percent growth as far as the eye can see. Which means we have to be a lot more productive, workforce participation has to rise from its all-time modern lows. It means that people need to work longer hours and, through their productivity, gain more income for their families. That's the only way we're going to get out of this rut that we're in."
Immediately, the Democratic National Committee (DNC) swung into action, releasing a statement that said his remarks were "easily one of the most out-of-touch comments we've heard so far this cycle," and said that Bush won't fight for the middle class as president.
On Twitter, Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton jumped right in as well, CNN reports.
"Anyone who believes Americans aren't working hard enough hasn't met enough American workers," she tweeted, and back up her comment with a graph that showed productivity steadily rising over the last several decades while hourly compensation had barely moved.
John Podesta, a former White House chief of staff under President Bill Clinton who is now chairman of Hillary Clinton's 2016 Presidential campaign also weighed in, tweeting, according to Politico:
"Americans are working pretty hard & don't need to work longer hours β€” they need to get paid more."
Even members of Bush's own party gave him a verbal smackdown. One member of Ted Cruz's campaign simultaneously invoked the infamous ghost of Mitt Romney's failed attempt at the presidency β€” the notorious "47 percent" remark and also made it clear that Republicans just don't know irony when they see it.
"It would seem to me that Gov. Bush would want to avoid the kind of comments that led voters to believe that Governor Romney was out of touch with the economic struggles many Americans are facing," Cruz spokesman Rick Tyler said in a statement. "The problem is not that Americans aren't working hard enough. It is that the Washington cartel of career politicians, special interests and lobbyists have rigged the game against them."
If Cruz isn't a career politician, then what is he?
Meanwhile the cronies at Bush headquarters indulged in a heady brew of Obama-blaming, even though job growth has been steady, Politicus reports. MSNBC noted that 280,000 jobs were added in May.
But in an attempt to respond to the DNC's earlier criticism, a Bush aide issued a statement:
"Under President Obama, we have the lowest work-force participation rate since 1977, and too many Americans are falling behind. Only Washington Democrats could be out-of-touch enough to criticize giving more Americans the ability to work, earn a paycheck, and make ends meet."
However, The Wall Street Journal reports in an article that was written in 2009, just before George W. Bush left office that "taking account how long he’s been in office, shows the worst track record for job creation since the government began keeping records."
While it's too soon to say now, perhaps Jeb Bush and his cronies haven't really thought this whole job thing out very well.
On Thursday, he went into further damage control to clarify the remarks he made during the town hall event in Hudson, New Hampshire and said he was referring to Americans who aren't employed full-time, CNN reports.
"You can take it out of context all you want, but high sustained growth means people work 40 hours rather than 30 hours and that by our success they have disposable income for their families to decide how they want to spend it rather than standing in line and being dependent upon government," he said.
Then he fired a salvo at Clinton on Twitter:
"Anyone who discounts 6.5 million people stuck in part-time work and seeking full-time jobs hasnt [sic] listened to working Americans @hillaryclinton."
Now, if Bush had stated that during the town hall event, the drums of conflict could have remained silent, but he didn't do that, and those with their eyes on 2016 didn't hesitate.
Politico reports that a 2014 Gallup poll shows that many Americans are now working longer than the standard 40-hour week than they did in previous decades. The study showed that many are now working 47 hours per week, tacking on nearly one extra workday beyond the traditional five-day, 9-to-5 work schedule. The study did also note that there are lots of Americans who are underemployed and confined to part-time jobs that were formerly full-time.
My guess is, that if Bush somehow climbs over the competition and claims the White House, it will be those 6.5 million in part-time jobs who will find out if they are still going to be discounted.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of
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