The embattled ride-sharing company Uber found a defender in Republican presidential candidate Jeb Bush, who called it a “pretty vital service” that was “disrupting the old order.”
On Wednesday, a California judge fined the San Francisco-based company $7.3 million and recommended that it be suspended from operating in the state. When asked by reporters if the court’s fine gave him pause, Bush replied, “No, not at all” but added that if the company had done something wrong, it should pay the fine.
Bush, who had arrived at his event at a tech startup here in an Uber X car, then recounted the story of an Uber driver in Los Angeles, whom he held up as a beneficiary of the sharing economy. “I met a guy when I was in Los Angeles 3 months ago that was an UCLA undergrad, chemistry major, and because of Uber he is going to medical school at UCLA – debt-free,” Bush said. “Uber’s giving that person a chance to start out and fulfill his dream. He wants to be a doctor.”
Bush seized on the issue of Uber while fundraising and campaigning in the heart of the country’s tech sector, and after Democratic Presidential candidate Hillary Clinton in a speech earlier this week warned that the “so-called ‘gig’ economy” was “raising hard questions about workplace protections and what a good job will look like in the future.”
Uber, like other ride sharing companies, classifies drivers as independent contractors, instead of as staff employees with benefits like health insurance.
In an op-ed post on LinkedIn today, Bush countered that, “Big government liberals fundamentally can’t embrace digital innovation because it threatens the way they govern. They see car-sharing services as a threat to the local government taxi cab cartels. They see food trucks and Airbnb as a threat to urban planning and the tax and fee racket that they’ve imposed on brick and mortar restaurants and hotels.”
Addressing the question about healthcare for such contract workers, Bush told reporters that he favored a system of portable healthcare plans for catastrophic coverage with low premiums and high deductibles, as opposed to Obamacare.
SOURCE: ALAN HE