FOR NATIONAL PRESS CLUB WIRE NOV. 26, 2014
 
SHUMER AT NEWSMAKER SAYS DEMOCRATS MUST CONTINUE PRO-MIDDLE CLASS AGENDA, WILL OBSTRUCT LESS THAN REPUBLICANS DID
 
By Robert Weiner and Evan Baumel – weinerpublic@comcast.net, evan.baumel@gmail.com
 
Senator Chuck Schumer (D-NY), Senate Democratic Policy Chair and the party’s third ranking member, at a Newsmaker Tuesday to “diagnose 2014, 2016, and beyond,” called on Democrats to “embrace government, not run away from it.” He stated that helping the middle class will be central to the Democratic agenda, and will be a key to Democrats winning in 2016. Schumer used the event to kick off a series of three speeches on the subject.
 
Speaking to a packed press conference, the New York Senator argued, “The nation is on the edge of a crisis” as the middle class continues to suffer from weak wage growth. If we allow the wage deterioration to continue, “we will have a fundamentally different country,” he said, “a sour, angry country where people no longer get along.”
 
Schumer stated that people are looking for a party that “offers positive and concrete solutions,” but do not want “to be disappointed each time.”
 
The senator distinguished between the agenda of the Democrats and Republicans: “Democrats believe that an active and forceful government can and must be a positive force in people’s lives. Republicans believe government is detrimental – the less, the better. The most conservative Democrat, probably Joe Manchin (D-WV), still believes more in government than the most liberal Republican, Susan Collins (R-ME).”
 
Schumer brought up “the gap between wages and productivity, which began to detach in the late 1970s and early 1980s. For the first time in American history, it has stayed in decline for more than a decade.” The senator attributed this wage drop to technology and globalization, explaining, “As technology continues to advance, automation supplants employment across a number of different industries.”
 
Schumer said that Tarp and the Stimulus (2008-2009) were examples proving that “only government can counter the big forces in our political economy.” They showed that “the new Democratic majority would go to work for the middle class.”
 
The senator surprised reporters when he asserted that Democrats made a strategic error on the politics of Obamacare: “We took the mandate and put all our focus on the wrong problem – health care reform.” While he said he voted for the Affordable Care Act and believed that health care was “desperately in need of fixing,” the focus on Obamacare “gave anti-government forces new life.” While 36 million lacked coverage, “the average middle class voter thought the Democrats are not paying attention to me.” He said that wage increases were more important to most voters.
 
Schumer mocked the Republican’s agenda for the new Congress. “The Keystone pipeline might produce about 9,000 temporary jobs, in one limited part of the country,” the senator contended. “A good highway infrastructure bill, which they can’t bring themselves to support, would create hundreds of thousands of jobs, and provide decades of economic growth.”
 
He noted that the other current Republican agenda item, repealing the medical device tax, has broad support and “might create a few jobs in a certain small industry.” However, “funding NIH fully would create hundreds of thousands of jobs, not only with medical devices, but pharmaceuticals, biotech, and a host of other industries.”
 
When asked if the Democrats would block Republican proposals as the republican blocked Democrats when the roles were reversed, Schumer said, “[Republican] obstructionism doesn’t fit the times. I never liked that strategy. Obstructionism doesn’t serve us as well as it serves them. We are the pro-government party.”
 
He concluded by pointing to recent referenda to make his case that Americans want government to act and be positive. He noted the recent proposals passed in Alaska and Arkansas, two conservative states, to raise the minimum wage as proof of potential common ground. He cited polls indicating that the vast majority of people support lowering student loan costs (82%), spending more on infrastructure (75%), and raising the minimum wage (65%).
 


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Posted by: "Bob Weiner" <weinerpublic@comcast.net>