Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush on Wednesday seemed to propose a bold solution for economic troubles: “People should work longer hours,” drawing negative reactions from critics who suggested the last thing Americans need is to work more.
The GOP presidential contender made his suggestion during an interview with the conservative New Hampshire newspaper, The Union Leader, on Wednesday to address a variety of issues, including a tax reform agenda that Americans could expect under his administration, ABC News reported.
Bush said, “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.”
After a town hall in Hudson on Wednesday night, Bush sought to clarify his remarks to reporters, saying that he meant that the 6.8 million Americans working part-time should have opportunities to work more hours, not that someone already working full-time should be forced to work more.
“Work force participation rates are low,” Bush 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.”
Before the clarification, the remarks had drawn instant and intense reactions from a variety of public figures on the left, including 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.
Podesta tweeted: “Americans are working pretty hard already & don’t need to work longer hours — they need to get paid more.”