Downton Abbey

The Jeb Bush Show (Radical Restructure Remix)

Republican presidential candidate, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush waits in a hallway after a campaign event Saturday, June 27, 2015, in Henderson, Nev. (Photo by John Locher/AP)

“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 its all-time modern lows. It means that people need to work longer hours.”

Jeb Bush

This is an occasion when it is instructive to read past the superficial narrative. True, this is another occasion on which Mr. Bush required a do-overα, and the line really didn’t sound all that good. Still, though, the rebound was good enough to get Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI)―the ostenisble House GOP budget wonk and former vice-presidential nominee―onboard. And even Democratic-sympathizing pundits and politicians alike can find a reason to go with the later iteration; to wit, Steve Benen:

For what it’s worth, the Florida Republican, not long after his interview, clarified that his comments were about part-time vs. full-time employment. The Washington Post reported Bush saying, “You can take it out of context all you want, but high-sustained growth means that people work 40 hours rather than 30 hours and that by our success, they have money, disposable income for their families to decide how they want to spend it rather than getting in line and being dependent on government.”

As a matter of Economics 101, Bush’s broader points have at least some technical merit. When an economy has more full-time workers, it means more economic activity. When employees work more hours, it means more output and greater growth. None of this is controversial.

The problem with Bush’s rhetoric, however, is the real-world implications, and the degree to which he fails to understand the issue.

For example, the Republican candidate, who made $5.8 million in “consulting and speaking” income in 2013, makes it sound as if sluggish economic growth is your fault – you’re just not working enough hours. In reality, however, full-time employment is soaring when compared to part-time employment, and Americans are already working, on average, 47-hour weeks.

Sen. Bernie Sanders (S-VT), running for the Democratic nomination, is also willing to follow that course.

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An Exercise in Futility (Mixed Up Mixmaster Mix)

Detail of frame from 'Durarara!' episode 17: Masaomi Kida addresses his color gang, the Yellow Scarves.

The sad tale of Aaron Schock is also one of the stranger scandals we’ve seen lately Marin Cogan of New York magazine explains:

The saga unfolded in the most unexpected way. About two months ago, Washington Post reporter Ben Terris dropped by Schock’s office for a coffee with the congressman’s spokesman, Ben Cole. When Terris commented on the unique office décor — most politician’s offices are painted standard-issue yellow or navy and filled with knickknacks from the member’s district, but Schock’s walls were blood red, decorated with pheasant sprays and antique picture frames — an interior decorator popped out of the lawmaker’s office and offered to show him her Downton Abbey–inspired work. Terris might have never written about it had Schock and his staff not treated him like he was about to reveal a state secret. That story caught the eye of other reporters, who started digging into his spending reports. What they found was not good: Schock had spent more than $100,000 in one year from his taxpayer-funded congressional account on chartered planes — more than the senators who represented the state. He’d taken his interns to sold-out Katy Perry concerts. He misreported a private flight as a software purchase. Along the way, his spokesman was forced to resign after Facebook posts he’d written comparing black people to zoo animals were unearthed.

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Not Shocking

U.S. Rep. Aaron Schock (R-IL18) speaks to reporters in this undated photograph.  (Seth Perlman/AP)

So … it didn’t play in Peoria?

Illinois Rep. Aaron Schock resigned Tuesday, less than 12 hours after POLITICO raised questions about tens of thousands of dollars in mileage reimbursements he received for his personal vehicle.

(Sherman, Palmer, and Bresnahan)

It really is a strange scandal, beginning in the most banal of fashions when questions arose about the Peoria Republican’s office decor styled after Downton Abbey.

Over the course of about a month and a half, Mr. Schock has seen his prestige plummet from that of a rising, charismatic star in the Republican firmament to a laughingstock hounded into resignation by his own apparent inability to exercise even a modicum of basic ethical restraint.

It does occur to wonder at the nature of ethical scandals in Congress. After all, if Charlie Rangel can manage to find an excuse for failing to pay property taxes, one would expect his colleagues to figure out the problem with behaving in that crass manner that writes personal expenses to the business account.

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Image note: U.S. Rep. Aaron Schock (R-IL18) speaks with reporters in this undated photograph. (Seth Perlman/AP)

Sherman, Jake, Anna Palmer, and John Bresnahan. “Aaron Schock resigns after new questions about mileage expenses”. Politico. 17 March 2015.

Terris, Ben. “He’s got a ‘Downton Abbey’-inspired office, but Rep. Aaron Schock won’t talk about it.”