On Jeb Bush and his 47 Percent

Presidential Candidate Jeb Bush

On the Surface

During a newspaper interview, Jeb Bush (considered the Republican frontrunner) stated that economic growth is only possible when productivity increases. In his words, in order to grow, “… we have to be a lot more productive, workforce participation… It means that people need to work longer hours.” Though Bush has since backtracked on his statements, this gaffe will likely cost him a chance at the presidency.

Mitt Romney and the 47 Percent

In the 2012 election, Mitt Romney had proven to be a serious contender for the presidency. However, at a May 2012 fundraiser, Mitt Romney made the following remark: “There are 47 percent [of people]… who are dependent upon government, who believe that they are victims, who believe that the government has a responsibility to care for them… These are people who pay no income tax.”

While Romney admitted that his phrasing was off, he stood by his statements. In the meantime, his opponent was quick to jump on this, managing to paint Romney as being “out of touch” with middle-class concerns. Romney’s polling numbers plummeted as a result. Turns out, calling half of one’s constituents lazy is not a good campaign strategy.

Jeb Bush and Longer Hours

Jeb Bush’s remarks about longer hours have had considerable impact. He’s since tried to qualify his statement, saying that he meant that Americans working part-time should have greater opportunities for full-time advancement, but his poll numbers have still stagnated. Hillary Clinton ridiculed him, saying, “Let him tell that to the nurse who stands on her feet all day, or the teacher who is in that classroom, or the trucker who drives all night… They don’t need a lecture. They need a raise.”

There is certainly truth to Clinton’s words. To many Americans, Bush’s solution seems patronizing, and it seems as though he blames the middle class for its own predicament. And coming from someone born into considerable privilege, these remarks are idiotic at best.

Bush’s tone-deaf remarks might have already cost him the presidency. Like Romney before him, he has painted himself as a wealthy candidate who sneers at the plight of the less fortunate.

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