Political Animal


June 30, 2011 2:50 PM Schumer pushes the ‘sabotage’ envelope

By Steve Benen

Last week, Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), the third highest-ranking Democrat in the chamber, broached a subject party officials are generally inclined to ignore: the notion of Republican economic “sabotage.” Today, he went a little further.

After leading Republicans signaled their opposition to their own idea for a business payroll tax break, Schumer told reporters last Wednesday, “If they oppose even something so suited to their tastes ideologically, it shows that they’re just opposing anything that helps create jobs. It almost makes you wonder if they aren’t trying to slow down the economic recovery for political gain.”

This morning, Schumer went from “almost” wondering about GOP motivations to doing so rather explicitly.

Republicans may be slowing the recovery on purpose to hurt President Obama’s reelection chances in 2012, Democratic Sen. Chuck Schumer said in a speech on Thursday.

The speech made explicit a message Democrats have been hinting at for weeks: Republicans are hurting the recovery with their focus on spending cuts, and it may be an attempt to slow “down the recovery on purpose for political gain in 2012.”

“[W]e need to start asking ourselves an uncomfortable question — are Republicans slowing down the recovery on purpose for political gain in 2012?” Schumer said. “Sen. McConnell made it clear last October that his number one priority, above everything else, is to defeat President Obama. And now it is becoming clear that insisting on a slash-and-burn approach may be part of this plan — it has a double-benefit for Republicans: it is ideologically tidy and it undermines the economic recovery, which they think only helps them in 2012.”

I like this for a couple of reasons. The first is that Schumer’s choice of words is practically identical to my post, right down to the McConnell quote and the “uncomfortable question” phrase.

The second is that it’s an entirely defensible and legitimate question under the circumstances, and the only way to have a larger discussion about whether Republicans would actually hurt the country on purpose for purely partisan reasons is for prominent officials to raise the question. Kudos to Schumer for having the guts to do just that.

I’d also note that Schumer made these highly provocative remarks, and as best as I can tell, has faced no pushback whatsoever. One of Congress’ most prominent Democrats has effectively accused Republicans of trying to sabotage the nation’s economy, and Republican officials aren’t expressing any outrage, and aren’t even calling for an apology. No shrieks, no cries, no apoplexy.

And why not? Because to do so would be to engage in the very debate the GOP is desperate to avoid.

The lesson for congressional Democrats, then, is to follow Schumer’s lead.

Steve Benen is a contributing writer to the Washington Monthly, joining the publication in August, 2008 as chief blogger for the Washington Monthly blog, Political Animal.


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  • Anonymous on June 30, 2011 3:07 PM:

    Until I see what I have yet to see, I am under the disposition of taking Sen. Schumer at his word!

    What have I yet to see? Why any piece of Republican proposed legislation that deals with getting Americans back to work. They ran on a campaign to bring jobs back to us, but their actions since election haven't contained one iota of jobs concern.

    No, until the Republicans actually begin to engage our political discourse with substantive arguments, proposals and projected outcomes, they are merely bozos on the bus! Can't take them seriously, but do realize they are dangerous to us all as they are willing to destroy our nation in order to save it - and that's just a whacked way of insanity! -Kevo

  • Cooper on June 30, 2011 3:10 PM:

    Finally! Good work Steve!

    "I can't stand it
    I know you planned it
    I'm a set it straight, this watergate...
    Listen all y'all: it's a sabotage!"
    -Beastie Boys

  • FRP on June 30, 2011 3:11 PM:

    She's a Witch !
    How do you know ?
    She has a funny nose .
    Ee put it on me .
    Did you put it on her ?
    Well yeah , but , She's a Witch !

  • zeitgeist on June 30, 2011 3:16 PM:

    I continue to think that Schumer (depsite representing Wall Street) or Durbin (excusing his moment of weakness giving a crying apology to the Republicans for comparing them to Nazis) would both be more effective majority leaders than Reid.

    Ob Captcha joke: "arpotte ratio" - does that have something to do with taxing those corporate jets Obama was talking about?

  • MCD on June 30, 2011 3:20 PM:

    It is great that Schumer is saying it, but it needs to be more prominently reported than HuffPo and TPM for it to have any effect.

    When are these quotes going to start appearing in NYT or Wash Post, or heaven forbid, the evening news?

  • KK on June 30, 2011 3:27 PM:

    Chuck has knack for getting all the media attention he wants. Depending the venue he said, I tend to think this will start to get coverage.

  • Ron Byers on June 30, 2011 3:27 PM:

    Since Shumer has asked the question outloud I guess it will be OK for all of us to ask our Fox Republican friends the same question. If we are afraid of confronting the Fox Republicans, at least we should write letters to our local editors.

    Let's make this election be about the truth. The Republicans have become radicalized. They are no longer true conservatives. They are something else.

  • Forrest_Leeson on June 30, 2011 3:31 PM:

    Economic consequences of default: greater or lesser than economic consequences of 9/11?

  • T2 on June 30, 2011 3:33 PM:

    Mr. Benen points out the (so far) lack of pushback from the GOP on Schumer's comment. And as he surmises, the reason is that the GOP does not want anything like this to become Mainstream Conversation. I think within a day, somebody along the lines of Bachmann or Sanitarium will push back, after the GOP BigWigs get their talking points together. I'd expect some discussion of this comment on a Sunday Talking Head Show - but it will be "fair and balanced" ...Hopefully Schumer will be on one to drive the nail home. But if the GOPers keep quiet, I sure hope a couple other Senators join Schumer and keep this drumbeat going until the poor GOP has to say something...

  • N.Wells on June 30, 2011 3:43 PM:

    That's still too mild - they call us traitors and all manner of offensive untrue crap, and our response is "may be an attempt"?

  • SYSPROG on June 30, 2011 3:47 PM:

    Yes T2...they also have to get over to CNN to Gergen and Borger so they can shake their heads and bemoan the lack of 'adulthood'...CRAP! When did getting mad or calling it like it is become a child's temperament? C'mon media...why don't YOU grow up? Mr. Schumer is right. Or as Steve says 'we should have a conversation about this.'

  • edb on June 30, 2011 3:47 PM:

    But consider this point of view:

    Steve's blog is so careful and cautious that Democrats plagiarize his talking points.


  • CDW on June 30, 2011 3:56 PM:

    Schumer's just preaching to the choir unless the msm picks it up. Schumer and others - Pelosi, where are you? - need to keep repeating it in enough venues and enough times until the press can't ignore it any longer.

  • Trollop on June 30, 2011 3:58 PM:

    The opportunist from New York speaks!

    Let's hope the rest of the not so daring aristocracy follows suit. No I didn't say the Insane Sociopath party..

  • max on June 30, 2011 4:07 PM:

    "I'd also note that Schumer made these highly provocative remarks, and as best as I can tell, has faced no pushback whatsoever. One of Congress' most prominent Democrats has effectively accused Republicans of trying to sabotage the nation's economy, and Republican officials aren't expressing any outrage, and aren't even calling for an apology. No shrieks, no cries, no apoplexy."

    Any yet they seem outraged by almost anything. I think a shark fight between some heavyweight Wall Street fixers and the GOP leadership is looming. One can only hope there are no survivors.

  • Ron Byers on June 30, 2011 4:26 PM:

    Let's turn Republican sabotage into a dinner table discussion. The Republicans seem to be willing to hurt all of us to get at Barack Obama. Why?

  • Les Ismore on June 30, 2011 4:56 PM:

    It all boils down to the teabaKKKers and their hatred for President Obama.
    If you recall, initially the teabaKKKers floundered for an issue to hang their hats on. At first, it was he was "shredding the Constitution", remember that? After no one could point to a right that was being denied, theyt went to the old canard, he is "raising taxes". Again, when the couldnt point to a tax increase, it became the budget deficit...But the bottom line is because the teabaKKKers cannot endure a successful Democratic president and even worse, a successful black Democratic president.

  • DAY on June 30, 2011 5:02 PM:

    A small step forward, but Chris Matthews is leading off with Schumer.

    As I have said before, yelling "you lie!" gets the air time.

    Please, sir, can we have some more?

  • June on June 30, 2011 5:03 PM:

    Thank you, Chuck Schumer!

  • Citizen Alan on June 30, 2011 5:07 PM:

    How about something short and pithy: None Dare Call It Treason.

  • exlibra on June 30, 2011 5:54 PM:

    If Chuck Schumer speaks out like this, I guess this means that Wall Street is getting to be bipartisan in rattling the cages of *everyone* they can push, on both sides of the isle.

    As for it being reported in the MSM, beyond the confines of the blogosphere... I guess that NYT is bound to, since Schumer is NY's Senator. Tomorrow; Friday is such a good day for lessening the impact of unwelcome news. And, somewhere on A-18/20, seeing as it's of regional import.

    Still, better than nothing or, as the Oracle of Craptcha says: "deceased putear"; put it in the public's ear, before we're all dead.

  • Doug on June 30, 2011 7:46 PM:

    I don't see how any "talking points" CAN be arranged by the Republicans; there are just too many examples of programs and policies that Republican Senators and Representatives don't support NOW, but DID support PRIOR to 2009 (wonder what happened then). They might try to spin current opposition to some of those policies/programs as a response to the wholly-manufactured "debt/deficit" crisis, however any attempt to make a coherent (Iknow, I know!) argument that supports the Republicans' current opposition to EVERYTHING would require actual discussions of policies.
    And everyone knows, Republicans don't DO policy...

  • Old Uncle G on June 30, 2011 10:12 PM:

    Sen. Schumer is being generous.What the Republicans are doing is not just economic sabotage. It is treason.

  • beejeez on June 30, 2011 10:30 PM:

    Wait, the media talked to a Democratic senator besides Liebermann?

  • Gov't Mule on July 01, 2011 12:05 PM:

    Good points Steve. The GOP's lack of a response to Schumer was telling. Instead of hitting back, the Republicans decided to go all in on...wait for it...on defending tax breaks for jet owners, who would face a slightly less favorable depreciation schedule.

    So rather than call Schumer a liar or respond in an manner to his comments, the Republicans are gambling on the Full Faith and Credit of the United States on tax breaks for jet owners.