Skip to comments.Timothy P. Carney on Chuck Schumer: Voice of the little man, courtier of plutocrats
Posted on 01/25/2014 4:15:35 PM PST by markomalley
The favorite senator of Wall Street and K Street explained to a liberal D.C. audience last week how to defang the Tea Party: offer a populist message that splits the grassroots from their wealthy donors.
Republicans should listen to this counsel, and turn the tables on Sen. Chuck Schumer of New York.
Schumer argued at the Center for American Progress on Thursday that the Tea Party is built on a foundation of deception: Wealthy, hard Right, selfish, narrow elites have fooled regular Tea Partiers into hating government. Schumers premise is that Big Government is the friend of the regular guy, and only the selfish wealthy elites benefit from more economic freedom.
It seems relevant, then, that Schumer a dedicated liberal is the most important congressional Democrat when it comes to fundraising. Schumer headed the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee for the 2006 and 2008 elections.
In 2008, Schumers DSCC raised more than $160 million, the all-time record for a Senate campaign committee. The DSCCs $280 million raised over two cycles was 60 percent more than the National Republican Senatorial Committee raised over that same stretch.
Schumer, to fund his own elections, taps deep into the plutocracy he condemns. In the 2010 election, Schumer ran basically unopposed. Still he was the No. 1 Senate recipient of money from the insurance industry, private equity, hedge funds, Wall Street, real estate, the cable industry, and hospitals. Schumer was No. 3 in money from lobbyists, Hollywood, and mortgage bankers.
Schumer's Senate office seems to have its own revolving door that exits straight onto K Street. He is tied for third place, in all of Congress, for having the most staffers in the Center for American Progress revolving door database. Only Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., and Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus, D-Mont., beat him on the revolving door scoreboard.
And Schumer knows how to profit from this revolving door action. In January 2007, when his party took charge of the Senate, he gathered some of Americas wealthiest hedge-fund managers in a Manhattan restaurant and told them, in effect, start lobbying and giving money to politicians.
A few months later, Schumers top banking staffer, Carmencita Whonder, left for the K Street firm Brownstein Hyatt, which immediately picked up a handful of hedge fund and private equity clients. Whonder also became a volunteer fundraiser for Schumer, while other hedge fund millionaires raised money for Schumers DSCC.
Schumers lucrative K Street game sheds light on Schumers other tactic for taking on the Tea Party: pass strict campaign finance regulations that rein in activist groups that want to run political ads.
The problem with outside groups engaging in political debate is that they take their case to the American people, instead of taking it to senators. How does its help Schumer if no lobbyists are wining and dining him, delivering him PAC checks, and hiring his staff?
So maybe conservatives shouldnt put too much stock in Schumers comments about those evil wealthy folks trying to rig policy to their benefit.
But still, Schumers arguments can teach conservatives something important.
Schumer understands that politics is largely about showing voters that you are on their side. This effort has two parts: First, fight for the regular guy. Second, fight against the special interests. Conservatives need to beat Schumer at this.
Schumer thinks Democrats can split of some Tea Partiers with a bill to extend emergency unemployment benefits. Republicans mostly accept this extension if Congress can pay for its $6.4 billion cost. Heres one way Republicans could try to to pay for it: kill $6.4 billion of corporate welfare.
Would Democrats really be able to vote "no" on a bill that extended emergency unemployment benefits, and paid for it by taking $6.4 billion out of the Energy Departments Advanced Technology Vehicle Manufacturing program? Or cut at federal boondoggles such as high-speed rail and fossil-fuel research. Trim a few billion here, a few billion there, and youve got the bill paid for.
Of course, Democrats would hate trimming corporate welfare for their clients. Schumer and friends would suddenly find themselves choosing between helping the unemployed and sticking by their partys donors.
Republicans could beat Schumer at his divide-and-conquer populist game if Republicans are willing to actually battle corporate welfare themselves.
If we had a party that was not in bed with Schumer we could do it.
This is a great article and a great strategy - the only problem is that it presupposes Republicans are smart enough and actually want to oppose the Democrats - other than that it’s great. Perhaps conservatives and Tea Party people can use these ideas.
“if Republicans are willing to actually battle corporate welfare themselves.”
Good luck with that. The GOPe corporatists love corporate welfare. It’s their main constituency. See the One Trillion Dollar Farm Bill about to be voted on.
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The left’s fear of the Tea party is even greater than the RINO’s fear of the Tea Party. That tells you a lot. Schumer is publicly calling for the IRS to violate federal law to persecute the Tea Party. If we had a functioning Justice dept., he would be indicted.
Schumer argued at the Center for American Progress
Also misses the rather salient point that the microphone was paid for by the billionaire felon George Soros.
Schumer is definitely a little man.
on Capitol Hill, Schumer has earned his reputation as a cutthroat partisan hack. Just look at the Senate over the past two years, a GOP aide tells National Review Online. He has basically been using the Senate as a platform for Democratic campaign commercials.
A former chairman of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee (DSCC), Schumer has assumed an increasingly prominent role since he took over the Senate Democrats political-messaging operation in 2011. He has been the driving force behind his partys coordinated, poll-tested campaign to vilify Republicans over the past two years. Reporters once overheard the message maven instruct his Democratic colleagues on how to attack Republicans; moments before a scheduled conference call in March 2011, and apparently unaware that reporters were already listening, Schumer summarized his battle strategy. I always use the word extreme, he said. That is what the caucus instructed me to use this week. That comment, a Republican aide remarks, tells you all you need to know about Chuck Schumer.
Schumer tends to launch his attacks at the Tea Party in particular, often noting that House Speaker John Boehner (R., Ohio) is a good man who is simply being held hostage by the extreme members of his own party.
In March 2012, Politico highlighted Schumers efforts to portray Republicans as anti-women, anti-Latino, and anti-middle class by forcing votes on politically charged items such as the Buffett Rule (a proposed tax on millionaires) and the Violence Against Women Act, neither a which stood a chance of becoming law. Schumers plan for painting Republicans as anti-immigrant was to call the author of Arizonas controversial immigration law to testify before the Judiciary Subcommittee on Immigration, which he chairs. Theres good reason to be skeptical of Schumers motives, says the GOP aide. Hes made clear over the course of his career that his instincts are to go for the jugular at all times and not give a sh** about policy.
In July 2012, Schumer, a longtime ally of Wall Street and the hedge-fund industry, dropped his personal objection to raising tax rates on income above $250,000 (he prefers a $1 million threshold). For explicitly political reasons, he agreed to fall in line with Obamas position, arguing that party unity and being a team player for the president were preferable to good policy.
With respect to immigration reform in particular, Republicans recall the pivotal role that then-congressman Schumer played in crafting the 1986 Immigration Reform and Control Act (IRCA), which one aide describes as amnesty without enforcement. Additionally, despite voting for legislation that same year that would have required illegal immigrants to pay up to three years of back taxes after IRCA became law, Schumer wrote a letter urging the Treasury Department to immediately exempt newly legalized residents from that requirement an objective he achieved with the passage of subsequent tax legislation in 1988.
Schumer recently angered conservatives, who favor an enforcement first approach to immigration reform, by announcing over the weekend that the Gang of Eight has a substantive agreement on all the major pieces of a forthcoming legislative proposal. Weve come to a basic agreement, which is that first, people will be legalized, Schumer said on NBCs Meet the Press. Then, we will make sure the border is secure.
Mark Krikorian, executive director of the Center for Immigration Studies, says Schumers policy staffers, many of whom have ties to influential liberal groups such as the Center for American Progres
Schumers challenge is to convince people that the last 40 years of his career dont matter, says a Republican aide. The burden is on him to prove that hes not what everyone knows him to be a partisan snake.
“Schumer is publicly calling for the IRS to violate feral law to persecute the Tea Party.”
Just change the words “Tea Party” to “Jew” and Schumer (Cuomo, de Blasio et al) would fit right into Nazi Germany in the 1930s.