(11 am. – promoted by ek hornbeck)
Sen. Chuck Schumer wants a more activist federal government.
“You look at just about every policy difference between Obama and McCain,” he said. “Underlying it was a more active government.”
The senior senator from New York is profiled in the January/February 2009 issue of The Atlantic. In “The Man in the Middle“, Joshua Green writes of the November 2008 interviews he had with Sen. Schumer, focusing upon how the senator defines the American middle class and the challenges they face. He believes helping the middle class will be the vital to fixing our country, carrying out President Obama’s policies, and building the Democratic Party.
First, who are middle class Americans?
Sen. Schumer believes that federal programs that target families making the U.S. median household income of $48,000 or below means these programs do not reach middle class. The median-household-income static does not factor, for example, age or geography. Most Democrats, according to the article, see the middle class families as resting in an income range between $60,000 and $100,000.
“They’re making more than their parents did, but they also work harder and they’re much less secure-laying out a king’s ransom to buy a house where they feel they need to live for their kids to get a good education. That’s a wholly different set of issues than living on the margin of poverty.”
These are the people Schumer says Democrats need to help. “Too often, the focus is on the top 10 percent, who don’t need it, or the bottom 10 percent,” Schumer says. “The broad middle is forgotten.”
His goal is to reshape the federal government to be a positive force in the lives of this more affluent middle class. He thinks these Americans want different things from the federal government than those in the median household income grouping or below.
Sen. “Schumer sees this group as the key to the electoral balance of power, and believes he has figured out how to reach it.” So to continue this new Democratic era, Sen. Schumer believes the Obama administration and the Democratic-led Congress must show how effectively government can work to help this more affluent middle class.
These are his ideas on how the Obama administration and Congress can help improve the lives of middle class Americans.
“First, you’ve got to get the economy moving again,” he said. “You do that with a big stimulus and get money into people’s hands.”
To do this, Sen. Schumer favors a targeted economic stimulus package that would include:
A middle-class tax cut
$500 “baby bonds” for every new child
Federal funds to 401(k)s
Automatic IRA accounts for those without 401(k) plans
After a stimulus measure, Sen. Schumer thinks five simultaneous confidence increasing measures should follow immediately.
Financial industry reform to boost confidence about retirement accounts and mortgages.
Energy plan to reduce dependence on foreign oil and promote renewable energy.
Education plan to attract better K-12 teachers and improve schools without raising property taxes and a tax credit for college education.
Immigration plan, similar to the Kennedy/McCain plan of last year, that would appeal to small business owners and show the government is handling the issue.
Withdrawal from Iraq.
Of the Iraq withdrawal, Sen. Schumer thinks President Barack Obama will act more quickly than the drawn-out timetable left by the Bush administration.
“I think we’re going to do Iraq early,” Schumer said. “What the right wing didn’t get was that even if the surge succeeded, it was beside the point. People said to themselves, ‘There’s $100 billion a year going over there, when I’m hurting? For what, stability in Iraq?’ I ask people, ‘How many’s first goal is stability in Iraq?’ No one raises their hand. Well, why are we spending more money on that than on all of federal education?”
Whether it is a realistic timeline or not, Sen. Schumer believes it would be possible to pass an economic stimulus and these five measures in the first 100 days of Obama’s presidency. Each step would demonstrate the effectiveness of an activist government working to help Americans and would make possible the tackling of more ambitious problems.
“Every one of those things either helps the middle class immediately, or gives them hope in the future that the pie is going to keep growing,” he said. That would open the door to bigger things later in the year, like universal health care and ambitious climate-change legislation.
This is what an active government looks like to Sen. Schumer. His goals for the next three months are ambitious, but realistic if the Democrats can out-maneuver Republican obstructionism in the Senate. The Republicans won’t make it easy though. They know if the Democrats are successful, then their party’s philosophy is effectively destroyed.
If Obama and Congress can enact this agenda, then I think we will begin to see the change Americans voted for last November and allow us to tackle the big problems I think we must face going forward.
In turn, when Americans start seeing our government as a success, then Democrats who can make our federal government help people will continue to win elections.