For his party, it made no sense, but for Schumer, it did. Everyone from Krugman to the Republicans has pointed out that NY Senator Schumer’s attack on Obamacare was wrong and a bit crass. So why did he do it? There’s no word on that. So zFacts looked into it. To add to the mystery, Schumer has been the Dems top messaging guy (chairman, Communications Committee) for years. So this was no accident. To figure it out, let’s check the timing.
This happened shortly after (1) the Dems lost the election big time, and (2) six days after Politico wrote that he is “being forced to face a new power center—populists such as Sen. Elizabeth Warren.”
First, everyone agrees the Dems did a terrible job of messaging before the election. In fact the main Democratic message reported by the press was that they were afraid to get near Obama, because they’d let the Republicans (and “progressives” like Michael Moore) tar him so badly. Of course, the Republicans’ main point of attack was Obamacare and Schumer has been the lead Dem in charge of defending that for four years. Could he have done any worse? So what to do when you screw up? Point the finger at someone else. Doesn’t seem to matter how much damage you do to your teammates.
Second, Schumer’s base of support is moderate Democrats, and he’s extremely close to Harry Reid, the most conservative Senator. So he sees rising star Elizabeth Warren is a threat. First, according to Politico, he tried to balance out [neutralize] her progressive politics on a leadership committee by adding moderate Sen. Mark Warner. Then he tried to pigeonhole her as the “liaison to liberal groups” on his Democratic Policy and Communications Committee. She rejected both, and he had to capitulate.
That happened over a week before he practically tore his Party apart with his speech at the National Press Club, attacking Obamacare—not because it was bad policy, but because it was not Machiavellian politics.
His speech was designed to (1) cover up what a dreadful job he’d done with Democratic messaging, and (2) to claim he was a populist like Elizabeth Warren. That’s a stretch for him so he comes right out and says “This message has an element of populism.”
There’s one last piece to the puzzle. Again the clue is timing. On Nov. 3, Schumer endorsed Hillary Clinton for president. No she hasn’t declared yet, but this is how you secure a position in her administration. And what does she need? Well, since Schumer failed at his task of defending Obama and Obamacare, she needs to distance herself from those. He’s helping by continuing to distance the whole Democratic party from them. Never mind that’s he’s destroying it in the process.
So here’s a final quote from Schumer:
So an element of populism, even for those of us who don’t consider ourselves populists is necessary to open the door before we can rally people to the view that a strong government program must be implemented. … it should unite democrats from Elizabeth Warren to Hillary Clinton. [at minute 44 in the CNN recording]
Schumer: Dancing with Wall St. (Dec 2014)