Jeb Bush Just Doesn’t Get It When It Comes to Georgia’s Working Families

Today, former Florida Governor Jeb Bush will flit through Atlanta to hold two high-dollar fundraisers. Bush—who has announced that he is “considering exploring” a presidential run for 2016—is also set to visit with leaders at the Georgia State Capitol this morning.

 

While in South Carolina just a few days ago, Jeb Bush was asked if raising the minimum wage was a good idea. Here’s his answer:

 

“We need to leave it to the private sector… This is one of those poll-driven deals… I’m sure it’s a great soundbite.”

 

Democratic Party of Georgia spokesperson Michael Smith issued the following statement in response to Bush’s out-of-touch comments:

 

“Jeb Bush is certainly making his mark this week.  After belittling the hardships that working families across the South face by dismissing the idea of increasing the minimum wage as a ‘nice soundbite,’ he’s spending the day rubbing shoulders and raising money with well-heeled Republican legislators and donors.

 

“If Bush really wants to connect with Georgia voters, maybe he should spend less time hobnobbing at fundraisers and spend some time talking to the hardworking Georgians who make the federal minimum wage of $7.25/hour—considering that the Republican-controlled state legislature has refused to act. Too many Georgia families are struggling to simply put food on the table and pay their bills after a hard day’s work. Maybe then Bush would recognize the need for such commonsense measures—measures that would truly give Georgia’s working families the opportunity to prosper.”

 

Bush’s position on the minimum wage is to the right of Mitt Romney. During the 2012 GOP presidential primary, Romney—who stated that corporations are people—indicated his support for raising the wage, saying “My view has been to allow the minimum wage to rise with the CPI [Consumer Price Index] or with another index so that it adjusts automatically over time.” (Think Progress, 1-13-2012)

 

An exit poll conducted last November showed that a majority of Georgians favor raising the minimum wage. (Athens Banner-Herald, 11-8-2014)

 

Full transcript of Bush’s minimum wage answer:

 

MODERATOR: Let’s talk minimum wage. Is raising it a good idea and if so, is it the government’s role? Or in the case of companies like Wal-Mart, do we need to leave it to the private sector?

 

JEB BUSH: We need to leave it to the private sector. I think state minimum wages are fine. The federal government shouldn’t be doing this. This is one of those poll-driven deals. It polls well, I’m sure – I haven’t looked at the polling, but I’m sure on the surface without any conversation, without any digging into it people say ‘yea, everybody’s wages should be up.’ And in the case of Wal-Mart they have raised wages because of supply and demand and that’s good. But the federal government doing this will make it harder and harder for the first rung of the ladder to be reached, particularly for young people, particularly for people that have less education.

 

We’re moving to a world that is sticky in the ends, where it’s harder for people in poverty to move up and where the rich are doing really well and the middle is getting squeezed. And any idea that makes, that perpetuates that is one that I would oppose, and I think this minimum wage idea is exactly one of those things. The great majority of the people that would benefit from that would shortly find that there would be some innovation, some automation, some change of business plans so that businesses could continue to make ends meet and that they would be likely the ones that would lose their job. That’s how it’s always worked.

 

Now, politically, I’m sure it’s a great soundbite. But from an economic point of view this is not how we need to be successful.