Schumer: Middle-Class Concerns 'Trump the Republican Attacks on the Affordable Care Act'

By Susan Jones | March 27, 2014 | 7:15am EDT

Senate Democrats Chuck Schumer (NY) and Harry Reid (Nev.) (AP File Photo)

( - Heading into the midterm election, Democrats plan to focus "like a laser" on middle-class concerns -- and those concerns don't necessarily include Obamacare, Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) said at a news conference on Wednesday.

"Concerns of the middle class can trump the Republican attacks on the Affordable Care Act, because what Americans really care about is making their lives better," Schumer said. "So we're going to answer those concerns, and we believe those will prevail in November."

Eighty-five percent of Americans are not affected by Obamacare if they have Medicare, Medicaid or employer insurance, Schumer said -- ignoring the fact that all taxpayers are on the hook for insurance subsidies, Medicaid expansion, and other program costs that are not offset by the law's taxes and penalties.

"We are going on offense in the months ahead," Schumer promised. "In addition to defending the Affordable Care Act and correcting Republican falsehoods, at the top of our list will be focusing like a laser on pushing legislation that will provide every American with a fair shot. He mentioned jobs and higher incomes as issues that will dominate the political landscape in the months ahead.

"Each one of these issues -- if you work 40 hours a week, you should have a fair shot at getting out of poverty. If you're a woman, and you do equal work to a man, you should have a fair shot at getting equal pay. If you're a family that has a kid who deserves to go to college, you should have a fair shot at being able to pay for it. We want a fair shot for everybody, and that's what we stand for."

Schumer said the Democrats' "fair-shot" agenda "is what the American people want to hear. You folks all want to ask about Obamacare. But the American people, most of them, are not directly affected by Obamacare. They want to hear what we're going to do for them. Just go back and look at the 2012 election."

In 2012, Schumer said, Republicans make Obamacare their number-one issue, while Democrats focused on an agenda like the one they're promoting now. "What happened?" he asked. "We picked up seats in the Senate; we carried the presidency by a large amount."

Speaking Thursday morning on MSNBC's "Morning Joe," Schumer repeated that the Democrats' "fair shot" agenda -- focusing on employment and income -- "actually trumps health care."

"The average American, even if he or she has a good-paying job, has a rough time paying for college, paying for child care, worrying about their retirement. The American dream -- that torch is flickering."

Schumer said Democrats plan to make college more affordable; bring back manufacturing jobs through tax incentives; and provide tax breaks for child care: "These are things that average Americans talk about around the coffee table."

He said the anxiety surrounding Obamacare is "drummed up by a lot of commercials" that say all Americans will be affected by the law. Schumer again said the law doesn't affect 85 percent of the already-insured population:

"That's why we think this agenda actually trumps health care. Obviously health care's got to be changed where it's not working. But it is not going to be the dominant issue as much as our Republican colleagues would like to make it by the time Nov. rolls around -- if, if, if we do this right."

Also See:
Reid: Obamacare Has 'Dropped Way Down in Significance'

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