Out of touch: Presidential hopeful Bush tells overworked Americans ‘work longer hours’

Republican presidential candidate Jeb Bush (Reuters / Brian Snyder)
Jostling for the Republican presidential primaries is well underway, but Jeb Bush’s latest comments will not have endeared him to the US public. The White House hopeful says Americans should work longer hours. His comments drew criticism from Democrats.

Speaking in Hudson, New Hampshire, Bush said he would be looking to improve the economy, if elected in November 2016, but in order to achieve this, people would have to work even more hours.

"Workforce participation has to rise from its all-time modern lows," Bush said, as cited by Reuters. This means "that people need to work longer hours and through their productivity gain more income for their families."

However, his comments were instantly seized upon by the Democrats, who accused Bush of being out of touch with ordinary Americans – an accusation also leveled against Mitt Romney in 2012.

"It is easily one of the most out-of-touch comments we've heard so far this cycle. Jeb Bush would not fight for the middle class as president," DNC spokeswoman Holly Shulman said in a statement.

Bush, who is looking to become the third president from his family dynasty, said his comments were taken out of context. He added that the US economy needs to grow faster by allowing people to move from part time work, into full time work.

"You can take it out of context all you want, but high sustained growth means people work 40 hours rather than 30 hours, and that by our success they have disposable income for their families to decide how they want to spend it rather than standing in line and being dependent upon government," he said.

A report released by Gallop in September 2014, showed that Americans are working an average of 47 hours per week, which is almost a whole extra day. Just 40 percent of Americans said they worked an average 40 hour week, with over half saying they worked more. In fact, almost 20 percent of those surveyed said they worked over 60 hours per week, with just eight saying they worked less than 40 hours.

Gallup's data was based on its annual Work and Education Survey, which combines data from 2013 and 2014, and includes 1,271 full-time employed adults, while it found that just 13 percent of those polled, actually enjoyed going to work.

This is not the first time that a Republican presidential candidate has been deemed out of touch with the electorate. In 2012, millionaire Mitt Romney’s advice to students to “borrow money from your parents,” was also seized upon by the Democrats.

“We’ve always encouraged young people: take a shot, go for it, take a risk, get the education, borrow money if you have to from your parents, start a business,” Romney said in April 2012 at Otterbein University in Ohio.