One doesn’t have to like NY Senator Chuck Schumer to admit he’s a smart and ambitious man. His being the first prominent Democrat to come out strong against Obamacare – without doing anything to derail it – could prove to be a shrewd move for a guy known to make them.
If Obamacare sees a significant defeat in a current Supreme Court challenge it’s facing, Schumer’s seeming break from the usual lock-step movement of Democrats on the Affordable Care act could provide a way for the party to go in the event of a loss.
He also wants Harry Reid’s job. So, even if the ACA doesn’t lose, an increasingly unpopular Democrat Party with an unpopular Obama in the White House that got trounced in November’s mid-terms desperately needs to find some way to turn the page, no matter what.
“After passing the stimulus, Democrats should’ve continued to propose middle-class-oriented programs and built on the partial success of the stimulus,” Schumer said in a speech at the National Press Club.
“But unfortunately, Democrats blew the opportunity the American people gave them,” he said. “We took their mandate and put all of our focus on the wrong problem: health care reform.”
“We were in the middle of a recession, people were hurting and said, ‘What about me? I’m losing my job. It’s not health care that bothers me,'” he said.
Say what you want about Schumer, it’s not hard to see how the position he’s laying out could help him significantly when the new Congress convenes after the first of the year.
Schumer’s comments came a few weeks after a clip surfaced where Jonathan Gruber, an adviser who helped write the law, talked about how “the stupidity of the American voter” helped get it through Congress.
The White House said Tuesday that it welcomed dialogue with Schumer about the health care law.
“I saw that he talked about the need to have an emphasis on the middle class, and that is something that drives us and this president every single day,” said Deputy Press Secretary Eric Schultz. “If you want to have a conversation about the Affordable Care Act, we should, because we believe strongly the Affordable Care Act is working.”
Schumer is widely regarded as a top candidate to succeed Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada as the Senate’s top Democrat. Reid will continue in that role next year as minority leader.