Jeb Bush attacked for saying Americans ‘should work longer hours’

Republican presidential candidate former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush speaks at a town hall meeting Wednesday, July 8, 2015, in Hudson, N.H. (AP Photo/Jim Cole)

(MEDIA GENERAL) – Rivals have been quick to attack Republican presidential candidate Jeb Bush after he said in an interview that in order to grow the economy, Americans “should work longer hours.”

Bush, in an interview with New Hampshire’s The Union Ledger, was discussing plans for tax reform and growing the economy.

Here is his statement in full: “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 the 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 we’re in.”

Rivals go on the attack

Rick Tyler, the national spokesperson for Sen. Ted Cruz’s campaign, responded to Bush’s words in a statement, likening the candidate to former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney and his failed campaign in 2012.

“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 statement said.

The Democratic National Committee released a statement calling Bush’s remarks “easily one of the most out-of-touch comments we’ve heard so far this cycle.”

An aide from the Bush camp clarified his stance while attacking workforce rates under President Obama.

“For several years now, (the Obama administration) has been recklessly degrading the value of work, the incentive to work, and the rewards of work. 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,” the Bush camp said in a statement.

Studies: Americans work more than any other country

Statistics from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development say Americans work more than anyone in the industrialized world. International studies show Americans take less vacations, work longer days and retire later in life on average than people from any other first-world country.

The Bureau of Labor reports 6.5 million people in the U.S. work part-time because they can’t find full-time jobs and presumably would work more if they could.

A 2014 Gallup poll states the American “40-hour work week” actually is closer to 47 hours. The study said 50 percent of Americans reported working more than 40 hours per week, and 40 percent said they work at least 50 hours per week. Also of note, of the workers who claim to work at least 50 hours per week, half of them are salaried employees.

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