Careful How You Attack Jeb

Bill Scher

Democrats were quick to jump on Jeb Bush after he told a newspaper editorial board, “people need to work longer hours,” thinking they caught him in a classic out-of-touch gaffe.

Politico reported, “Just as Republicans in 2012 turned ‘You didn’t build that’ into a galvanizing rallying cry … Democrats now are seizing on Bush’s comment to Romnify Bush.”

But remember, the “you didn’t build that” attack was a farce that failed.

The “longer hours” quote is completely taken out of context to sound like Bush wants full-time workers to work more than 40 hours. But in the initial interview he explicitly said he was referring to the need for part-time workers to get full-time work.

This is the problem of “underemployment” that politicians across the spectrum have been highlighting ever since the market crash — Democrats to argue for more job-creating public investment, Republicans to dismiss Obama’s economic performance.

The underemployment problem is slowly getting better. There are 6.5 million “involuntary” part-time workers, which is down 30 percent from its peak. But the number is still higher than the roughly 4 million before the 2008 crash. And it’s not like the economy was fantastic before the crash.

So Jeb’s not wrong to focus on the problem, and it does Democrats no good to mock him when he does.

Where Jeb is vulnerable is that he offers no serious solution to the problem.

He and other Republicans highlight economic weakness to mock Obama’s stimulus and regulatory approach. But the economy on his watch got better. The economy on Jeb’s brother’s watch got worse.

While Jeb asserts he can give America steady increases in GDP of 4%, he has yet to offer a detailed plan. All he suggests is more tax-cutting and deregulating, not at all different than his brother who drove the economy into the ditch.

Republicans, those named Bush and those who are not, have yet to take responsibility for the George W. debacle and show how they would govern differently if given the chance. Until they do, Democrats should focus on how their stale ideology would give us more horrible results, not go down the rabbit hole of inaccurate gotcha games.

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