By John Kell and Alan Murray
July 10, 2015


Jeb Bush has won the first primary of the 2016 campaign – the money primary. In just 16 days as a candidate, he brought in $11.4 million, while his Super Pac, for which he raised money before entering, netted $103 million. The total – $114 million – is more than double that raised by the next closest competitor, Ted Cruz. One long-time GOP fundraiser tells me he has never seen it so easy to raise money for a candidate.



The reason is clear. In a campaign so far dominated by Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump, Bush is the candidate for practical business people – “the establishment.” He has put economic growth at the center of his campaign, and has staked out business-friendly terrain on hot-button GOP issues like immigration and education standards.



History shows the Republican primary favors the establishment candidate. But to get the prize, Bush still has to navigate the brutal shoals of a long and over-contested primary without making a fatal gaffe – and he came painfully close yesterday. Here’s what he said to the Manchester Union Leader:



“My aspiration for the country, and I believe we can achieve it, is 4 percent growth as far as the eye can see. Which means we have to be a lot more productive. Workforce participation has to rise from all-time modern lows. It means that people need to work longer hours and through their productivity gain more income for their families. That’s the only way we are going to get out of the rut we are in.”



As a matter of economics, Bush’s comment is fine. Economic growth = labor force growth + productivity growth. But it was a politically sloppy comment, seeming to suggest the answer to our economic problems is for hard working people to work even harder. It’s not surprising Democrats jumped all over it. Moreover, at some point Bush needs to explain why the historic link between productivity growth and wage growth has been broken, and what can be done to fix it.



But in politics, there’s always tomorrow — as Greek Prime Minister Tsipras proved yesterday, adopting most of the austerity measures that he urged his country to reject on Sunday.



Enjoy the day.




Alan Murray


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