Jeb Bush’s solution for economic growth: “work longer hours”

In the 2012 election, Mitt Romney told students worried about college affordability to borrow money from their parents.

In the 2016 election, Jeb Bush has now told workers worried about being able to feed their families to work longer hours.

Said Jeb, in an interview with The Union Leader in New Hampshire yesterday:

My aspiration for the country and I believe we can achieve it, is 4 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.

For starters, Americans are already working longer hours. A 2014 Gallup poll found that 50% of full time employees are working more than 40 hours per week — 18% were working at least 60 hours per week. Taken together, the average American full time employee works 47 hours per week.

What’s more, productivity has been steadily rising year over year, a rise that has been met with stagnating wages. An hour of work isn’t worth what it used to be worth, and that’s why Americans are hurting.

Jeb’s campaign almost immediately walked back his comments, clarifying that Jeb didn’t mean to say that full time workers need to work longer hours — he was talking about underemployed and part-time workers. Although, that doesn’t exactly make Jeb’s comment sound any better; after all, he’s still telling those workers to get off their asses and start working more.

It’s actually worse, as Jeb and his campaign are implying that underemployed and part time workers just need a pep talk from Jeb. It’s not that the extra hours aren’t available, it’s just that they don’t want to work right now.

Or, you know, the opposite of that.

It’s a bit cliche to say that a gaffe is what happens when a politician tells the truth, but here it goes: If political rhetoric were liquor, Jeb’s comments would be the triple-distilled, cask-strength, black label version of the GOP’s economic agenda. Shrugging your shoulders and telling workers to try harder is basically all the Republican Party has right now when it comes to improving the lives of working families.

This from a man who made his fortune on the backs of his dad and brother. Yeah, he’ll have a great time connecting with Joe Voter.


Jon Green graduated from Kenyon College with a B.A. in Political Science and high honors in Political Cognition. He worked as a field organizer for Congressman Tom Perriello in 2010 and a Regional Field Director for President Obama's re-election campaign in 2012. Jon writes on a number of topics, but pays especially close attention to elections, religion and political cognition. Follow him on Twitter at @_Jon_Green, and on Google+. .

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  • Indigo

    When I was an undergraduate working on a B.A. in English and Philosophy (1959-1965) the going topic was preparing ourselves for a life of leisure and developing the skills to handle leisure intelligently with the sophistication and intelligence suitable to a college graduate. We were going to be the learned leaders of society.

    Yes, bean counters, I did manage to squeeze four years of college into only six years. Times and values have changed so much it’s as if we’ve moved into a realm in another galaxy, far, far away.

    Ah, the time-warp!

  • And the suffering of others.

    Even as these entitled over-rich creeps pontificate about the value of family and home life, they propose making people have to work even harder just to get by.

    A century ago, there was a movement to value the ideal of leisure time. The 40 hour work week and “8 hours work, 8 hours rest, 8 hours sleep” were slogans of the labor organizing era. At the time, there was even talk of reducing the work week to 35 and then 30 hours — in part so everyone could enjoy the advances of modern civilization, but also so that the available jobs could be spread around to all who needed them. Core to this concept was the belief that wages would keep pace with productivity gains.

    Instead, we have this inverted pyramid economy now, where every gain, every point of GDP growth or recession recovery goes almost entirely to the 0.1% now.

  • Only a card-carrying member of the Plutocratic Bastard Class could conclude the problem with America’s economy, after decades of steady productivity increases but stagnant/declining wages overall, resulting in the widest gap in income inequality since the Robber Baron era, is the rest of us (the 99.9%) need to work more hours.

    Life is supposed to more than mere toil and drudgery.

  • gratuitous

    Well, it’s your own fault! Next time see if you can’t be born into a wealthy family that made its pile by dealing with the Nazis. In any case, not really Jeb!’s problem.

  • Indigo

    It’s not that they’re clueless; it’s that they’re indifferent to the well being of others.

  • therling

    Now that I think about it further, that rise in productivity is even more impressive if you factor in the loss of productivity due to illness, lack of affordable child care, the inequitable quality of the education system, etc.

  • therling

    Maybe Jeb doesn’t get the whole “words” thing. So let’s show him a picture:

  • DGT

    Reminds me of his brother’s response when a woman told him she worked three jobs to make ends meet: “Uniquely American, isn’t it? I mean, that is fantastic
    that you’re doing that. (Applause.) Get any sleep? (Laughter.)”

    These guys are completely clueless about how poor people live.

  • Indigo

    Thus speaketh another one of our world-famous Floridiots!

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