Chuck Schumer, the third-ranking Senate Democrat, has identified a key reason Democrats lost so badly in the midterm elections: Obamacare.
The New Yorker many Senate Democrats believe will eventually replace Harry Reid as their leader told a National Press Club audience that his party focused on “the wrong problem” after they captured the White House and both houses of Congress in 2008.
“After passing the stimulus, Democrats should have continued to propose middle class-oriented programs and built on the partial success of the stimulus,” Schumer said. “But unfortunately Democrats blew the opportunity the American people gave them. We took their mandate and put all of our focus on the wrong problem — health care reform.”
What should have Democrats focused on? “The most salient factor in our political economy is that, for the first time in American history, middle-class incomes have been in decline for over a decade and the grand optimism of America and the American Dream itself is in jeopardy,” Schumer concluded in his speech. “If we have another 10 years of middle-class decline, we will have a fundamentally different country . . . a sour, angry country where people of different backgrounds, races, and economic levels no longer get along; with a government that few of us, left or right, will like.”
Conservatives certainly will disagree with Schumer on many of his policy proposals to boost the middle class. But in terms of his basic political critique – and the failure of both parties to substantively address middle-class anxieties – Schumer is spot on.