Paul Krugman Explains One of Jeb Bush and the GOP's Favorite Lies About Non-Rich People

Jeb Bush is still trying to talk us into believing that he did not actually say what he said last week about the need for Americans to work even harder and longer. Of course, he is trying to do this while not using any big words, because that would be elitist, and while juggling his own busy schedule of not actually having a job.


He is obviously completely unaware of the facts. Knowing them might also be elitist like Obama, and he wouldn't want that. Krugman straightens him out in Monday's column:

Americans work longer hours than their counterparts in just about every other wealthy country; we are known, among those who study such things, as the “no-vacation nation.” According to a 2009 study, full-time U.S. workers put in almost 30 percent more hours over the course of a year than their German counterparts, largely because they had only half as many weeks of paid leave. Not surprisingly, work-life balance is a big problem for many people.

No matter how much his aides try to spin it, Bush revealed himself to just be the latest iteration of the right's dogma that government programs are just so darn generous that all these lazy people, maybe about 47 percent of us, would rather live high on the hog off welfare, food stamps and disability payments. "It all adds up to a vision of the world in which the biggest problem facing America is that we’re too nice to fellow citizens facing hardship," Krugman writes. "And the appeal of this vision to conservatives is obvious: it gives them another reason to do what they want to do anyway, namely slash aid to the less fortunate while cutting taxes on the rich."

No amount of empirical evidence will convince the right that they are wrong that spending on the less fortunate is running rampant, but Krugman offers it anyway.

Given how attractive the right finds the image of laziness run wild, you wouldn’t expect contrary evidence to make much, if any, dent in the dogma. Federal spending on “income security” — food stamps, unemployment benefits, and pretty much everything else you might call “welfare” except Medicaid — has shown no upward trend as a share of G.D.P.; it surged during the Great Recession and aftermath but quickly dropped back to historical levels. Mr. Paul’s numbers are all wrong, and more broadly disability claims have risen no more than you would expect, given the aging of the population. But no matter, an epidemic of laziness is their story and they’re sticking with it.

Bush has previously expressed his admiration for the work of Charles Murray, the racist so-called thinker behind the 1994 book "The Bell Curve." Bush especially likes his new book about how working-class white families are starting to act like African-American families, with fewer marriages and less labor force participation, writes Krugman.

Some of us look at these changes and see them as consequences of an economy that no longer offers good jobs to ordinary workers. This happened to African-Americans first, as blue-collar jobs disappeared from inner cities, but has now become a much wider phenomenon thanks to soaring income inequality. Mr. Murray, however, sees the changes as the consequence of a mysterious decline in traditional values, enabled by government programs which mean that men no longer “need to work to survive.” And Mr. Bush presumably shares that view.

Meanwhile, among the Democrats and other sane individuals, consensus grows that workers need more not less help.

Jeb Bush is no moderate, no matter how they try to paint him.

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