On Labor Day, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) characterized the holiday — “a yearly national tribute to the contributions workers have made to the strength, prosperity, and well-being of our country” — as a celebration not of the worker, but of management and CEOs.
During a rally in Iowa on Tuesday afternoon, Paul Ryan expressed a similar sentiment, arguing that business owners are the only Americans working hard and taking risks to make “this country grow.” The comments echoed Mitt Romney’s now infamous 47 percent remark and suggested that Ryan too believes that many Americans are too lazy or simply refuse to work long hours:
RYAN: And when he says, if you have a small business you didn’t build that. Look, all we mean is that nobody else gets up at 5:00 AM and opens the doors. Nobody else works 7 days a week. Nobody else takes the risks. Nobody else meets the payroll. Nobody else goes to the bank. These are businesses that are built by the sweat, toil, and hard work of workers in this country of businesses in this country and that’s what makes this country grow.
Indeed, all Americans are working more today than ever before — and have some of the highest productivity rates in the world. As one Brookings study found, median wages for two-parent families have increased 23 percent since 1975, but not as a result of higher wages. “Rather, these families are just working more. In 2009, for instance, the typical two-parent family worked 26 percent longer than the typical family in 1975.”