Schumer says Americans want Dems to make hard left
WASHINGTON — The Senate Democrats’ top message man is urging the party leftward in the wake of crushing midterm election losses, saying working Americans want a robust government that will promote education access, labor bargaining rights, progressive taxes and more.
At a Washington news conference, New York Democratic Sen. Chuck Schumer said his party erred five years ago by putting health care reform ahead of jobs and economic priorities. The vast majority of Americans were relatively happy with their employer-provided health insurance in 2009, he said, and the health care overhaul’s message was aimed at about 5 percent of the electorate: those who lacked insurance and who voted.
“To aim a huge change in mandate at such a small percentage of the electorate made no political sense,” Schumer said. “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.”
Schumer’s remarks came a few weeks after Republicans won control of the Senate and boosted their House majority in the midterm elections. He said the way back to influence on Capitol Hill is to appeal to voters who support “an active and forceful government” to help them cope with globalization, technology and other forces keeping middle incomes stagnant.
Republicans ridiculed Schumer’s call for a more robust federal government. “The failure of big-government liberalism is why liberals were overwhelmingly rebuked at the polls this month,” said the conservative group YG Network.