Hillary Clinton has attacked former Florida Governor Jeb Bush over his comments on worker hours saying,
"Let him tell that to the nurse that stands on her feet all day or the teacher who is in the classroom or the trucker that drives all night... They don't need a lecture, they need a raise."
The Bush soundbite that has been parroted by liberal commentators such as Hillary Clinton is "people need to work longer hours." On itself, this seems like a quote from a speech railing against selfish, "entitled" Americans. However, unlike in the incident with Donald Trump's statements concerning undocumented immigrants, liberal commentators are getting this wrong.
As a left-leaning voter, I myself am appalled by Clinton's deceptive politicking, along with that of numerous other fellow liberals. The dishonesty is unnecessary and will only damage the trust the Democratic Party has with centrist voters, being akin to the Republican outrage at President Obama's "You didn't build that" comment in 2012.
In the interview with the New Hampshire Union Leader editorial board, Jeb Bush said,
"We have to be a lot more productive; work force participation has to rise from its all-time modern lows... 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."
There is no clear indication that Bush was referencing the work ethic of Americans. References to a possibly declining work ethic of Americans are paired with statements on the need to reduce the deficit among conservatives, and almost never economic prosperity. The fact that the response revolved around economic prosperity meant that the comments were with reference to the perceived lack of economic opportunity for Americans.
And yes, there's data backing Bush's statements. In 2007, the beginning of the recession, 2.7 million Americans were working part-time for economic reasons, and 19.8 million were working for non-economic reasons according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. By 2009, the height of the recession, 9.17 million were working part-time for economic reasons. As of July 2015, 20 million were working part-time for non-economic reasons and 6.5 million for economic reasons.
The number of people working part-time for non-economic reasons has remained largely unchanged over the years, but the number working part-time for economic reasons has changed significantly over the years, demonstrating a significant deviation in recent years. Clearly, the drop from 9.17 million working part-time for economic reasons at the height of the recession to 6.5 million was a clear and significant improvement, likely because of President Obama's stimulus package. However, the remaining increase of 3.8 million from year 2007 represents a significant and undesirable change in our economy that warrants scrutiny.
Does this represent an incomplete recovery? Or does this represent a fundamental maladaptation in the very structure of our country? We need to be honest with ourselves to begin answering these questions.
To be fair, Hillary Clinton's comments on Americans needing a raise have a great deal of truth to them as well. Since 1970, worker productivity has nearly tripled, and yet inflation-adjusted hourly wages have remained stagnant since then according to the Economic Policy Institute. This trend in our economy stretches far beyond the career of any recent Democrat or Republican politician, and should thus be viewed through a scientific, rather than political lens.
Taking Jeb Bush's comments out of context was a bad move by the Democratic Party. Liberals like Hillary Clinton should not have to lower themselves to using deceptive soundbites like Fox News. We liberals have got to be honest with ourselves if we are to have any hope of winning the elections and strengthening this economy.