Chuck Schumer, the high-ranking Democratic senator from New York, gave a speech today at the National Press Club in which he said that it "made no political sense" for Democrats to focus on passing the Affordable Care Act. The New York Times reports:
“Unfortunately, Democrats blew the opportunity the American people gave them,” Mr. Schumer said, according to his prepared remarks. “We took their mandate and put all of our focus on the wrong problem – health care reform.”
Mr. Schumer’s calculus could seem coldly political. He points out that only a third of the uninsured population is even registered to vote. “To aim a huge change in mandate at such a small percentage of the electorate made no political sense,” he said. “So when Democrats focused on health care, the average middle-class person thought ‘the Democrats are not paying enough attention to me.’”
Back when the Affordable Care Act was signed into law, Schumer was singing a different tune. The weekend after the law was enacted, Schumer claimed on Meet the Press that it "really does deliver for the middle class" and confidently predicted that by November 2010 "those who voted for health care will find it an asset, those who voted against it will find it a liability."
"I think as people learn about the bill, and now that the bill is enacted, it's going to become more and more popular," Schumer said. "The lies that have been spread, they vanish because you see what's in the bill. We had 'death panels' in the summer. People are going to see there are no death panels. 'Illegal immigrants are going to get health care," it's clear that's not true in the bill. And the number one lie that bothers people is 'You'll lose your insurance if you have it now and you're pretty happy with it.'"
Of course, Democrats were blown out in 2010 after the bill passed and again in 2014 after it was implemented and millions of Americans learned that what Schumer called "the number one lie that bothers people" was actually true.
When Schumer was asked during his 2010 Meet the Press appearance about polling that showed the middle-class opposed the Affordable Care Act, he replied:
Well, it really does deliver for the middle class. But, as I said, there are lots of, lots of misinformation. That firefighter in Rockville Centre, and you could repeat that with tens of millions of families, are worried. People ask themselves, particularly at a time of recession, "How is it going to affect me?" They've been told by special interests that are against the bill that they will lose their coverage. People who have coverage now, whether through an employer or Medicare, will keep it and it will get better, actually, because the waste and the duplication will, will be cut back greatly. They'll keep it longer, they'll keep it better, they'll pay less. So this is a bill aimed at the middle class. And my point being, if you look at a snapshot poll today, some of them show--there was one that was 49-40 in favor of health care, this one's against it. But I would predict to you, and I feel very, very strongly about this and firmly about this, that as people learn what's actually in the bill, that six months from now, by election time, this is going to be a plus because the parade of horribles, particularly the worry that the average middle-class person has that this is going to affect them negatively.
That Schumer, arguably the Democrats' top political strategist in Congress, would now publicly admit that the politics of Obamacare has been terrible for Democrats is remarkable. It should send chills down the spines of the law's supporters.