Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vermont) and former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush (R) agree on one thing: The government should do what it can to help part-time workers find full time jobs.
And Bush is finding a number of seemingly unlikely backers on both sides of the political spectrum, as national Democrats have tried to pounce on his Wednesday comments as a gaffe.
In an interview on CNN on Friday, Sanders said that he agreed with the basic premise of Bush’s call to help part-time workers seek full-time jobs.
“Of course we need full-time jobs rather than part-time jobs,” Sanders said.
“If he is talking about the need for more full-time jobs than part time jobs, that’s absolutely correct,” Sanders said.
The flap came after Bush proposed increasing economic output by increasing worker participation, helping part-time workers get full-time work and helping Americans who have dropped out of the workforce find jobs. Democrats have tried to use the comments — Bush said growing the economy would require Americans to “work more hours” — to say he’s “out of touch.”
A number of conservative writers who don’t always see eye to eye with Bush have also rallied to his defence. The National Review’s Ramesh Ponnuru, who wrote that Bush shouldn’t run for president, wrote Thursday that journalists and Democrats attacking Bush were “distorting his comments out of misunderstanding or bad faith.”
“Liberals may disagree with Bush’s implicit policy prescriptions on work,” he wrote. “But they should not distort what he is saying, which is that government policies should be changed so that they do less to discourage work and more to encourage it. That is not the same as proposing a return of workhouses (or worse). It’s not the same as telling people that their economic problems are the result of their laziness.”
Phil Kerpen, the president of the group American Commitment, blasted Clinton’s criticism in a tweet Thursday:
And The Washington Examiner’s Byron York, who has criticised Bush on items like the Iraq war and Obamacare, retweeted a story from FiveThirtyEight backing up Bush’s worker claim:
Of course, for some of the unlikely allies, that’s about where the policy similarities end. In Friday’s CNN interview, Sanders said that simply pushing people to work longer hours was wrong and created a poor standard of living.
“But I want to reiterate: our people work today the longest hours of any people in any industrialized country,” Sanders said. “What we need to do is raise wages and income, not force our people who are already stressed out to work more hours.”
Though Sanders was somewhat reserved in his comments about Bush on Friday, his Democratic opponent Hillary Clinton didn’t take the same approach on Thursday, launching into an attack and sub-tweeting Bush with a chart showing Americans’ productivity.
Bush quickly fired back.
Bush’s claim that increasing hours will spur economic growth is correct — raising the number of hours worked would increase economic productivity.
But the spat does highlight an essential policy difference between the two parties. While Bush wants to implement policies that will power his somewhat unprecedented 4% GDP growth goal, Democrats are focused on economic policies that keep one eye on quality-of-life programs.
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