Senator Chuck Schumer (D-NY) was brutally honest when speaking to the National Press Club on November 25. The Affordable Care Act (ACA) was a political mistake, he said.
The U.S. Senate’s third-most, senior Democrat said during a speech at the National Press Club on November 25 that his party took the mandate the American voters gave to them in 2008 and “put all of our focus on the wrong problem – health care reform.”
A large majority of Americans tried to tell the tone-deaf Democrats then that health insurance was not a top priority in their daily lives. A CNN poll in 2010 found 73 percent of respondents opposed it. During President Barack Obama’s first two years in office, millions of unemployed Americans wanted jobs, homeowners behind in their mortgage payments wanted hep from foreclosures, and retirees and investors wanted the value of their nest eggs to stop plummeting.
Unfortunately, President Barack Obama pushed forward and Democrats like Schumer loyally followed. Many of those sacrificed their political careers to do so and were fired by voters in the mid-term elections of 2010. “It was not the change we were hired to make,” Schumer said. Yet, Democrats shunned voters and pursued, successfully, an unwanted law that was fueled entirely by a big government ideology.
While Schumer bemoaned the political fallout, he outrageously claimed another problem was that the federal control wasn’t broad enough. Had it been, he said, the stupid American voters (as they have been repeatedly described by one of the ACA’s chief architects, Jonathan Gruber) would have understood that Obama just wanted to help them. Schumer correctly noted that some improvements were needed in the health insurance industry. The problem was that most Americans were more concerned about losing their jobs, savings, homes and retirements. Average Americans simply wanted the amount of energy being spent on passing the ACA to instead be put on helping them recover and maintain their livelihoods.
“Americans were crying out for the end to the recession, for better wages and more jobs, not changes in healthcare,” he said. “So when Democrats focused on healthcare, the average middle-class person thought the Democrats are not paying enough attention to me, again.” Not only did Americans believe that the Democrat-led government (the presidency, senate and house) from 2008-2010 wear out of touch with their plight, there was absolutely nothing to gain from it politically, Schumer said.
Schumer gave a break down of the numbers. Eighty-five percent of Americans had health insurance. Two-thirds of the uninsured (24 million) were not registered to vote. Only 40 percent of those voted, and just five percent of the voting public would possibly benefit from it, he said. “To aim a huge change in mandate at such a small percentage of the electorate made no political sense,” he said.
In addition to acknowledging the public’s lack of support for the ACA, he admitted that the rise of the Tea Party opposition was a direct result of the public’s distrust of the Democrats and their unwanted, federal control of health insurance. Ironically, Schumer called the Tea Party opposition extreme, yet does not think that forcing Obamacare on an unwilling public was extreme.
“The Tea Party took great advantage of the Democrats’ and the president’s focus on healthcare and said, ‘This government is aimed at someone else, not you,’” he said. Four years later and many Americans still feel that way. According to a Rasmussen poll, 52 percent of likely voters said they expect the country’s healthcare system to worsen because of the ACA. That poll was taken prior to the 2014, mid-term elections, when many Democrats again lost their jobs. The political fallout continues.