In a controversial statement that is being criticized by Democrats, Republican presidential candidate Jeb Bush said “people need to work longer hours” in order to improve the economy.
The Bush campaign, however, maintains that the statement referred to underemployed part-time workers.
Bush made the statement when asked about his plans for tax reform in an interview with New Hampshire’s The Union Leader.
“My aspiration for the country and I believe we can achieve it, is 4 percent growth as far as the eye can see,” he said. “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.”
The Democratic National Committee rebuked Bush’s comments, saying in a statement that his comments are “easily one of the most out-of-touch comments we’ve heard so far this cycle.” The statement further said that Bush, if elected president, would not serve the middle class.
However, according to Politico, Bush offered a clarification to his remarks after a town hall in Hudson Wednesday. He said that the statement referred to the 6.8 million Americans working part-time – and not the people already employed in full-time jobs – who should work longer hours.
“Work force participation rates are low,” he said. “If anyone is celebrating this anemic recovery, then they are totally out of touch. The simple fact is people are really struggling. So giving people a chance to work longer hours has got to be part of the answer. If not, you are going to see people lose hope. And that’s where we are today.”
He further went on to added, “Under President Obama, we have the lowest workforce 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.”
In February, Bush had spoken on the issue before the Detroit Economic Council.
“For several years now, they have been recklessly degrading the value of work, the incentive to work, and the rewards of work,” he had said. “We have seen them cut the definition of a full-time job from 40 to 30 hours, slashing the ability of paycheck earners to make ends meet,” he said. “We have seen them create welfare programs and tax rules that punish people with lost benefits and higher taxes for moving up those first few rungs of the economic ladder.”
The remark was also criticized by John Podesta, a former White House chief of staff under President Bill Clinton who currently serves as the chairman of Hillary Clinton’s 2016 presidential campaign.
Americans are working pretty hard already & don't need to work longer hours — they need to get paid more. http://t.co/MsGj4SmtaE
— John Podesta (@johnpodesta) July 9, 2015
Hillary Clinton also weighed in.
Anyone who believes Americans aren't working hard enough hasn't met enough American workers. pic.twitter.com/wyS1p8zcDo
— Hillary Clinton (@HillaryClinton) July 9, 2015
According to a 2014 Gallup poll, while majority of full-time employed Americans reported working 47 hours in a workweek, 4 out of 10 Americans say they work at least 50 hours a week.
Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development says that the number of work hours put in by Americans is most as compared to any other large and industrial nation.
The Bureau of Labor reports that 6.5 million Americans work part-time because of financial reasons, meaning that if given an opportunity to progress to full-time employment they would be willing to work more hours.
Anyone who discounts 6.5 million people stuck in part-time work & seeking full-time jobs hasnt listened to working Americans @hillaryclinton
— Jeb Bush (@JebBush) July 9, 2015
According to ABC News, national spokesman for Ted Cruz’s campaign, Rick Tyler, said in a statement, “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.
“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.”
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