2016 — July 9, 2015 at 3:38 pm

Why it matters that Jeb Bush says he wants you to work more hours


Somebody has to pay off all those debts George W. left us


A gaffe only matters if it reinforces a narrative. And that narrative only matters if it induces one reaction: “How dare you?”

Jeb Bush said this on Wednesday:

My aspirations for the country, and I believe we can achieve it, is for 4 percent growth as far as the eye can see. 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 are going to get out of this rut that we’re in.

Kevin Drum, Greg Sargent and Ben Casselman point out that Jeb is basically correct: we need more growth. Joan Walsh points out that it almost doesn’t matter matter what Bush mean because he sounds like a stone-cold plutocrat.

Bush clarified himself later by suggesting that we need more full-time jobs and he makes a good point.

Hmmm. Let’s see where this involuntary part-time work problem began:


Weird. It all started in 2007!

Even if Jeb Bush weren’t named Bush. Even if he didn’t still say he never disagreed with brother. Even if he’s revised that recently to say we would have spent less the Bush’s Republican Congresses.

Even if Jeb Bush were named Jeb Notbush, he would still be running on his brother’s legacy, which is the first decade of no net job growth since the Great Depression.

Why? Jeb Bush is still running on George W. Bush’s basic principles: lower taxes, especially for the rich, and less regulation of businesses. And if he wants to spend less, that would eliminate the only jobs created under W., since they were all government jobs.

But given that Jeb Bush is Jeb Bush, his comments definitely pin the “How dare you?” meter.

How dare you propose the exact policies that got us into this mess? How dare you attack the Obama economy which saw more jobs created than under both presidents named Bush in less than half the time? How dare you complain about debt when we’re still paying off the wars your brother lost and his tax cuts that created no jobs? How dare you promise to take away health insurance from 20 or so million Americans as the starting point of your presidency? How dare you you make me sound like a wronged 19th-century habberdasher?

And the most offensive thing is that he’s not talking about the single most important thing we can do to improve the quality of life for the middle class: raising wages.

The problem with our middle class is that they’re overworked and millions of Americans aren’t even paid of the overtime they put in because of rules established by — you guessed it — George W. Bush. And when an employer can pay 1 worker to do the job of 1.5, he will. And that depresses wages and the job market, which is how actual human beings judge the economy, not magical GDP predictions.

And Bush’s off-hand comment about you working more was far less offensive to me than his attack on debt-free college as “free stuff.” For a candidate who regularly leans on his well-earned accent as he speaks perfect Spanish, this was the same-old Southern Strategy dog whistling that Mitt Romney trotted out during his campaign and to explain why he lost. He would have gotten away with it if it wasn’t for that meddling “free stuff” and turnout in “urban” areas, Mitt explained. It’s always “them” hurting you in Conservative Land.

Jeb Bush’s whole life has been built on free stuff from his dad, from people trying to get to his dad and then his brother. Why else did Lehman Brothers hire him as its “secret weapon” before it set fire to the wick that exploded the global economy.

Student debt is drowning a generation facing a job market still hobbled from flaming rubble of an economy your brother left us in 2009. And the idea that kids should graduate from college without a mortgage on their souls is ridiculous to Jeb Bush, who never had worry about the cost of education in his life.

When Mitt Romney said “I like being able to fire people,” in praise of having options in the free market, it resonated not because we believed he really liked firing people. It resonated on in the Bain ads and 47 percent tape as a warning that this guy was a Fortunate Son who built his career immune to the wreckage he left behind. And that meant he’d be the kind of guy who would make the hardest working people in this nation work longer and harder, without any hope reaping the promises America once made to his retirees.

Jeb Bush likes his free stuff and he even seems to like to work. But he doesn’t seem to get that for the millions of Americas who fix motors, unclog pipes or wipe other people’s crusty bottoms, working less is the American dream.

[Image by The World Affairs Council of Philadelphia | Flickr]