Senator Charles Schumer, in a recent speech, stated President Obama and Democratic majorities in Congress were elected in 2008 to get the economy working for middle class families. Consequently, assigning extraordinary priority to passing the Affordable Care Act was a mistake.
In 2008, most middle class families had private insurance they liked; their incomes had been falling for about a decade.
The ACA was really part of Democrats’ agenda to assist the working poor—raising the minimum wage, and expanding Medicaid, food stamps, the earned-income tax credit, and higher education grants—while cozying up to big business to finance Democratic campaigns.
Schumer wants Democrats to advocate big government programs to cure middle class woes, and portray Republicans as servants of big corporate interests. He still embraces the ACA as sound policy, even though it made health care more expensive for many middle class families and it enriches Democratic contributors among top executives and shareholders in the health care industries.
That’s not surprising—Schumer championed the 2010 Dodd-Frank banking reforms.
Those made compliance with new mortgage and business lending regulations so cumbersome that many regional banks sold out to bigger banks—and lots of decently-paying jobs in smaller city banks were lost. In turn, with more deposits to invest, the Wall Street banks keep finding new scams—like rigging foreign currency markets and speculating in commodities—to keep funding multi-million dollar bonuses for New York executives and big campaign contributions to Democrats in the Senate and House.
Cozying up to big business—while championing the poor and offering lip service to the middle class—is what Democrats have done best lately.
President Obama’s favorite fund raising venue is the home of Comcast’s CEO, and his Administration has rewarded cable providers with little effort to curb abusive rates, which rise faster than inflation.
Now, the Treasury Department has decided telecom companies may count the wires to homes as real estate and qualify for lower corporate taxes—that’s the kind of special treatment Obama charges are the primary focus of Republicans lawmakers.
Schumer advocating big government will help Democrats win back the middle class and congress. Perhaps with all the staff and privilege a senator enjoys, he has not had to navigate the New York State health insurance exchange, not had his premiums lost and then coverage denied in the ether space of the federal bureaucracy, or waited tediously on the telephone to resolve medical claims.
What made Americans prosperous was measured government support to private business, fair play and competition—not monopolies for health insurance companies, banks and cable companies to abuse the public.
Somewhere along the way Washington—and in particular Democrats—forgot private businesses, not government, are the nation’s principal jobs creator, and monopolies stifle progress.
Bill Clinton—not a Republican president—normalized trade relations with China, and permitted it to rig its currency, monopolize many manufacturing activities and steal millions of American jobs. Also, he repealed Glass-Steagall, which permitted Wall Street gambling houses to combine with ordinary banks and use middle class savings to create bogus securities and crash the global financial system.
Democrats have blocked petroleum exploration off the Atlantic, Pacific and Eastern Gulf Coasts, Keystone and other pipeline and infrastructure projects. These limit U.S. oil supplies, enrich big multinational oil companies, and keep OPEC and Russian oil producers in business. In turn, those deny Americans good paying jobs and finance terrorism.
The new GOP congress should try to reverse those abusive policies. But each step of the way, the Senator from Wall Street will appear on Sunday talk shows to paint Republicans as servants of big business.
Oh what a flimflam man—the Senator from Wall Street wants to now present himself as champion of the middle class.
Peter Morici is an economist and business professor at the University of Maryland, and a national columnist. He tweets @pmorici1