Democratic Sen. Chuck Schumer threw Obamacare under the bus Tuesday, charging that Democrats should not have passed the law in 2010.
Schumer, the third-ranking Senate Democrat, spoke Tuesday at the National Press Club in Washington about the Democrats’ losses in this year’s elections. He encouraged Democrats to embrace government despite their electoral crash but also admitted that the Democratic House and Senate should not have passed Obamacare.
Democrats should have focused on directly helping the middle class, Schumer argued.
“Unfortunately, Democrats blew the opportunity the American people gave them” by electing President Obama and a Democratic-controlled Congress in 2008. “We took their mandate and put all our focus on the wrong problem.”
“The plight of uninsured Americans and the hardships created by unfair insurance company practices certainly needed to be addressed,” Schumer said. “But it wasn’t the change we were hired to make” in the 2008 election. “Americans were crying out for the end to the recession, for better wages and more jobs — not changes in health care.”
“The Affordable Care Act was aimed at the 36 million Americans who were not covered,” Schumer continued. “It’s been reported that only a third of the uninsured are even registered to vote,” making Obamacare unlikely to win the Democrats any votes at all.
“Even if the uninsured kept with the rate, which they likely didn’t, you would still only be talking about five percent of the electorate,” Schumer said. It made “no political sense” and left the middle class thinking the “Democrats are not paying enough attention to me.”
Schumer repeatedly slammed tea party forces and business, while promoting a “strong government.” He claimed that many Americans aren’t actually anti-government, but only want government to be “on their side.”
“Even though health care had very real benefits, it did for a small slice of the country,” Schumer admitted. “There were even some policies that would help constituencies in the middle class, but not a great deal of people. Those policies should be considered, but shouldn’t be the core of the Democratic platform.”
Schumer also said the new Republican Senate majority’s goal of repealing the medical device tax a focus on the “short term needs of a few, narrow special interests.”
Repeal “might create a few jobs in a certain and small industry. But funding [the National Institutes of Health] would create hundreds of thousands of jobs, not only with medical devices, but pharmaceuticals, biotech and a host of other spin-off industries,” Schumer argued, although he noted even he supports its repeal.