The Slatest

Jeb Bush Narrowly Averts Telling American People They Need to Work More to Boost the Economy

Jeb Bush has an economic plan.  

Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Jeb Bush made a campaign stop in New Hampshire on Wednesday to chat with the editorial board of the influential Union Leader newspaper. As the Washington Post puts it: “Bush’s appearance… was part of a day-long break from his annual vacation at the Bush family compound in Kennebunkport, Maine.” (Presumably Jeb Bush would have put it differently.)

During this interview, Bush, while discussing the American economy and his plan to give it a PED-like boost, grabbed what we’ll call the fourth rail of American politics and told Americans they need to work harder. A small price to pay in the name of sweet, sweet 4 percent growth. Are you with me?

“My aspiration for the country – and I believe we can achieve it – is 4 percent growth as far as the eye can see,” he told the newspaper. “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.”

Eek. Telling the American people they need to work harder is an untested political campaign strategy—presumably for good reason. Jeb Bush, perhaps sensing people weren’t as into the 4-percent or bust plan as he thought, clarified later in the day, telling reporters not everyone needs to work more. “If we’re going to grow the economy people need to stop being part-time workers, they need to be having access to greater opportunities to work,” Bush said.

“There are 6.5 million people in the country who, according to the Bureau of Labor, are working part time for economic reasons,” according to the Associated Press. “This means they are involuntarily working part time because they can’t find full time employment and presumably would work more if they could.”

Whew. This talking point might need a bit of fine-tuning.