5 Questions For: Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) on the potential death of the American dream
Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) is the garrulous senior Senator who’s rarely been known to shy away from the media. True to his reputation, he visited the PPL Media Space and took questions from the crowd that gathered.
Raw Story: What do you think is the biggest issue that Democrats need to address during this convention?
Schumer: I think there’s a clear issue that’s more important than any other, which is that middle class incomes have declined over the last decade and, if that continues, we’ll have a different America. I believe in the lady in the harbor, who holds that torch? What that torch symbolizes to the world and to America is the American Dream. And the American Dream is, very simply put, if you work hard you’re likely to be doing better ten years from now than you’re doing today, and your kids are likely to do even better than you. If the dream flickers, it’s a different America.
And I think it’s the job of Democrats to show the average middle-class family, the average middle-class person, that we have a much better plan for making sure incomes start growing again than they do. And I’d say [Republicans] have helped us, because the Romney-Ryan ticket, if I had a word that’s their fatal flaw — it’s a funny word — “narrow.” Mitt Romney believes that if he and people like him do well, that’ll straighten out the economy. Let us pay less taxes, get all this regulation off our back, and then the whole economy will do great. Well, we want people at the top to do well, God bless ‘em. But that may explain about ten percent of what we need to do. That’s all they think of, they’re in their own little echo chamber because he has a very rarefied existence and most of the people that support him — David Koch thinks, “If they just let me do whatever I want to do, the world will be a much better place.”
Raw Story: Republicans talked a lot about how much they loved women and loved their mothers, as though Democrats don’t love women or their mothers…
Schumer: I thought it was pretty sad when Mitt Romney to show he’s empathetic — first he had to show it, you should when you’re an elected official, it should be obvious — but second, he had to talk about his parents, his father leaving a rose for his mother. That’s not too strong an endorsement of caring about women or being empathetic.
Raw Story: What are the differences between Democrats and Republicans on women’s issues?
Schumer: I think Democrats on women’s health, on the issue of choice and on just equality, even the numbers show it. We have triple the number of women in the Senate that they do.
Other Blogger: What’s your position on the amendment to overturn Citizens United?
Schumer: Ugh. I think it’s one of the most important things we could do. I think Citizens United is probably the worst Supreme Court decision since Plessy v. Ferguson in, I believe it was 1896, said “separate but equal was okay.” Listen to this fact: 60 percent of all the Super PAC money on the Republican side comes from 17 people. That approaches an oligarchy, where a small number of people have such huge influence that it’s disproportionate, and I think we need an amendment for Citizens United and it’s one of the highest priorities. I would be for a constitutional amendment.
Blogger: But you’ve also received one of the highest amounts of money from the banking industry and supported the overturn of the Glass-Steagall amendment some years ago. Isn’t there a problem with people saying that they’re in favor of overturning Citizens United while at the same time…
Schumer: Well, listen, I support the financial industry when I think they’re right and I oppose them when I think they’re wrong. I supported the Volcker Rule, which is an updated Glass-Steagall. I don’t think you can reinstate Glass-Steagall given the international economy, and the Volcker Rule is the closest way to get to it, I’ve been supportive of that.
[Image via the Center for American Progress Action Fund on Flickr, Creative Commons licensed]