Top Senate Democrat: Democrats Should Not Have Focused On Obamacare in 2009, 2010

Sen. Charles Schumer says Democrats made a mistake by concentrating on getting health care reform passed instead of on fixing the economy.

congress-healthcare

The Number Three Democrat in the Senate says that his party made a mistake five years ago when it turned its attention away from taking steps to continue stimulating the economy and toward the still-controversial Affordable Care Act:

Sen. Charles E. Schumer (N.Y.), the Senate’s third-ranking Democrat, slammed his party Tuesday for pursuing health-care reform in 2009 and 2010, arguing that Democrats hurt themselves politically by not focusing instead on policies aimed at helping a “broader swath” of middle-class Americans.

“After passing the stimulus, Democrats should have continued to propose middle class-oriented programs and built on the partial success of the stimulus. But unfortunately, Democrats blew the opportunity the American people gave them. We took their mandate and put all of our focus on the wrong problem — health-care reform.”

Schumer, who voted for the health-care law and has championed it, suggested that he voiced similar concerns to colleagues back when the law was being crafted but was overruled by others who saw the moment as the best possible chance to reshape the nation’s health-care system.

“We should have done it. We just shouldn’t have done it first,” he said of what is considered by many Democrats to be President Obama’s signature accomplishment.

Schumer made his remarks during a speech at the National Press Club that served as a sharp critique of his party in the wake of a disastrous midterm election in which Republicans swept into the Senate majority and padded their House advantage.

Bloomberg’s Kathleen Hunter has further details about Schumer’s comments:

Nov. 25 (Bloomberg) — Democrats made a mistake by passing President Barack Obama’s health-care law in 2010 instead of first focusing more directly on helping the middle class, third-ranking U.S. Senate Democrat Charles Schumer said today.

“Unfortunately, Democrats blew the opportunity the American people gave them” in electing Obama and a Democratic Congress in 2008 amid a recession, Schumer of New York said in a speech in Washington. “We took their mandate and put all our focus on the wrong problem — health care reform.”

Schumer said Democrats should have addressed isitsues aiding the middle class to build confidence among voters before turning to revamping the health-care system. He said he opposed the timing of the health-care vote and was overruled by other party members.

“The plight of uninsured Americans and the hardships created by unfair insurance company practices certainly needed to be addressed,” the senator said. “But it wasn’t the change we were hired to make” in the 2008 election.

Schumer’s comments represent an unusual public intra-party criticism of the way Obama’s signature legislative achievement was enacted. The senator spoke at the National Press Club to analyze the results of this month’s election, when Republicans took control of the Senate and increased their majority in the U.S. House of Representatives.

The White House didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

Schumer’s comments are not new ones. I recall similar comments being made as the House and Senate were moving forward on what eventually became the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act in 2009 and 2010 from political observers and pundits, many of whom noted, correctly, that health care reform was not a significant part of President Obama’s campaign for the White House either during the Democratic primary fight with Hillary Clinton or the General Election campaign against John McCain. To some degree, of course, this criticism came from pundits on the left who recalled the bitter fight that President Clinton faced more than twenty years earlier when he attempted to push a health care reform package through a Democratic controlled Congress only to see the package fail spectacularly and, eventually contribute to the loss of Democratic control of both houses of Congress in 1994 for the first time since the 1950s. As I can best recall, none of those pundits were saying that concentrating on health care would lead to the Democrats losing control of Congress, but they were arguing, as Schumer seems to here, that the party should be concentrating its agenda on the things that President Obama ran for office, such as strengthening the middle class and doing more to turn the economy around from the Great Recession.

In retrospect, there does seem to be a certain amount of appeal to Schumer’s Monday morning Quarterbacking here since the consequences of what actually happened for both the country and the Democratic Party seem to be rather clear. Even assuming for the sake of argument the truth of the arguments that the advocates of the PPACA made at the time, and continue to make today, it seems undeniable that concentrating on that legislation did hurt Democrats in the short term. Most prominently, of course, it hurt them by giving Republican opponents something to focus upon and rally around that ended up resonating with a significant segment of the public. Soon after Congress started turning to the issue in 2009, opposition to “Obamacare” as soon came to be called became a unifying force for the Tea Party movement, and allowed it to recruit support from groups such as the elderly who were concerned, right or wrongly, with what a new law would do to their Medicare coverage. It also played into the general anti-big government argument that the Tea Party had started making when it first started emerging during the debate over the 2009 economic stimulus package. From the beginning, polling showed that the public was wary at best, if not strongly opposed to what was being discussed in Congress when it came to health care reform. By the time the 2010 midterms came around, the unpopularity of the PPACA was such that it clearly had become a rallying cry for voters inclined to vote Republican and no doubt helped motivate them to get to the polls.

At the same time that Congress focused on the PPACA, of course, the economy continued to be an albatross. While the recession had officially ended by early 2009 and the nation entered a period of economic growth that continues today, the growth in the early stages of the recovery was anemic at best and, in many quarters of the economy, essentially non-existent. The jobs market, most importantly, languished for 2009 and and 2010 at levels that looked like they would obviously be a problem for Democrats when the election time came around. By that point in November 2010, exit polls showed that the economy and jobs were overwhelmingly the most important issues on the minds of voters, and the fact that the election resulted in huge Republican pickups in both the House and the Senate really should not come as a surprise. By then, of course, it was too late for Democrats to focus much attention on the economy even before they had lost the election because so much political capital had been expended pushing the health care law by the skin of its teeth.

Looking at these events through this lens, Schumer’s argument arguably makes sense, especially if one posits that, had Democrats spent more time concentrating on the economy they would have been able to save control of Congress in 2010. The problem, though, is that the reality of 2009 and 2010 doesn’t really support his thesis. As Richard Mayhew notes, it seems unlikely to say the least that even President Obama and an overwhelmingly Democratic Congress would have had trouble getting another, or larger, stimulus package through Congress than what passed in the early months of his Administration. The bill, you may recall, was criticized as it was for being too large at $800 billion, and the suggestion of pundits like Paul Krugman that the President should have been pushing for something in the range of $2 trillion demonstrated a high degree of naivete about the reality of what it takes to get big pieces of legislation through Congress. Additionally, even if such a package had passed Congress it’s not at all clear that it would have had any significant impact on the economy going forward, especially since there’s little actual evidence that the stimulus package that did pass had anything more than a passing impact on the economy. In that case, the effort necessary to pass something bigger might have been as much for naught as the PPACA may turn out to be in the end. There were other measures, perhaps, that could have been explored, such as tax reform at the individual and corporate level, but their impact on the economy would take time to manifest and likely would not have saved Democrats in 2010 at all. Schumer is clearly trying to engage in some kind of five year old “I told you so” game here, but, in the end, the evidence just doesn’t support his argument.

FILED UNDER: Barack Obama, Campaign 2010, Congress, Deficit and Debt, Economics and Business, Health Care, Politicians, US Politics
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010. Before joining OTB, he wrote at Below The BeltwayThe Liberty Papers, and United Liberty Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. Quite frankly, I think that Dems would have lost control on Congress in 2010 no matter what they did.

  2. humanoid.panda says:

    Pretty much the only thing is the Democrats could have done economically in 2009 was to pass another stimulus. Schumer, being a moderate Democrat and all, would have opposed that. In fact, pretty much every single pundit/politician who criticizes the Democrats for not doing enough about the economy in 2009/10 was in the “deificit going to kill us all” camp, so any kind of economic policy they would have pursued then would have things that much worse.

  3. Davebo says:

    I liked Mayhew’s take at Balloon Juice

    Is Schumer saying there were votes 60 votes in the Senate and 218 votes in the House for Stimulus Part 2 in July/August 2009? Anything less than that like tweaking the tax code or twerking off for corporate cash repatriations would be neither necessary nor sufficient.

    It’s as if Schumer hasn’t been paying attention for the past 6 years.

  4. C. Clavin says:

    Top Democratic Idiot, you mean? Schumer is an embarrassment. Maybe LBJ should have done something besides Medicare?
    It was pretty clear that the stimulus was as much stimulus that was ever going to be got. Multiple subsequent attempts to get infrastructure funding have failed in the face of Republican reflexive obstruction…in spite of the tragic shape our infrastructure is in.
    http://www.infrastructurereportcard.org/
    BTW – the GDP numbers for the Q3 were revised upward today…making the last 6 months the strongest 6 months of economic growth since 2003.
    http://www.bea.gov/newsreleases/national/gdp/gdpnewsrelease.htm

  5. Ben Wolf says:

    The ARRA only contained approximately $400 billion in spending or 2% of GDP. How that was supposed to correct a twelve percent contraction seems a mystery, but that everyone acknowledges our grossly inadequate response was a result of politics should indicate how dysfunctional the country has become.

  6. Ben Wolf says:

    @Davebo: Democrats could likely have persuaded enough Republicans to support a total suspension of FICA. If a BJ poster thinks that would have been insufficient, Balloon Juice is as economically ignorant as it was when giving blogospheric hand jobs to George Bush.

  7. C. Clavin says:

    @Ben Wolf:
    Just playing devil’s advocate…no one at the time was aware of the 12% (9%?) contraction in Q4 of ’08…it wasn’t until later it became clear how bad it actually was.
    I completely agree with you though. Once it became clear dysfunction prevented anything from happening.

  8. humanoid.panda says:

    @Ben Wolf: Nice double-counting two-step you pulled out here. On the one hand, you don’t count that payroll tax cut, a lion’s share of the tax cuts portion of the ARRA as stimulus, and on the other you argue that if only Democrats cut more payroll taxes, that would have been sufficient stimulus. Which is it?

    And by the way, the odds that Republicans would agree to a payroll tax holiday is really dubious, given that they fought like lions to restore FICA levels to their pre-ARRA level, and the idea that Democrats would have totally denuded Social Security/Medicare of income streams for a couple of years is simply ridiculous. This might make sense if we were ruled by philosopher kings, but democracy implies concessions to public opinion, even if that public opinion is wrong.

  9. humanoid.panda says:

    @C. Clavin: The problem is that, absent a major war, it is really hard to spend 12% of GDP in a year of two (we are talking about what, 5-7-8 TRILLION dollars?). Pretty much the only form of stimulus that could push that kind money out the window was a mega-tax cut, and that was both politically problematic, and less stimulative than other forms of spending.
    We definitely needed more stimulus, but once your economy sinks that low that fast, a quick turnarond is pretty much impossible.

  10. David M says:

    If only Schumer had been in the Senate in 2009.

  11. al-Ameda says:

    Senator Schumer is part of the problem

    He ought to know better, but he too caves in. The facts are that the economy has improved since the Great Recession. The economic crash of 2007-08 caused the loss of $18 trillion, or 25% of the wealth of American households and businesses, and with it millions of jobs. Since 2009 the economy has slowly and steadily improved because Obama advocated expansionary policies, and the Fed has had successive rounds of QE. Unemployment has steadily dropped from over 10% to under 6%, the stock market is at record highs, the housing market has regained its footing.

    Part of the problem is that Democrats seemed unwilling to point out economic progress and they left that field to Republican disinformation. People like Schumer need to look in the mirror and ask themselves if they were well-advised to cede all talking points to Republican messaging.

  12. Steve V says:

    I’m curious to know more about these middle class oriented policies of which Schumer speaks. Sounds like something he just made up.

  13. Tony W says:

    Schumer is a great candidate to deliver on the old saw in which he switches to the Republican party, and in the process raises the collective IQ of both parties.

  14. David M says:

    I don’t see how working on and then passing health care reform meant that no more stimulus could be passed. I also look back and think that the alternative to passing health care reform was not more stimulus, but either nothing or even more fiscal austerity due to the increase in long term deficit projections.

  15. Will says:

    Curious timing of this. The game plan going forward for the Dems is to protect Hillary at all costs. It’s also no secret that Schumer has been salivating for Reids job and hopes he won’t run in 2016. Looks like some kind of deal was reached within the party. Usually Chuck saves all this for Sunday so that he can grab all the newspaper headlines on Monday. I also can’t help but think this is also a reaction to Elizabeth’s Warren rise as Politico pointed out last week.

    http://www.politico.com/story/2014/11/sen-chuck-schumer-rise-tested-by-liberals-113054.html

  16. MikeSJ says:

    Schumer says this because the people who’s lives have been saved by getting health insurance are not wealthy or connected.

    And by that I mean they are invisible.

    Saving their lives seems to have no weight, no value, no importance at all.

  17. Just 'nutha' ig'rant cracker says:

    I think that Schumer misses the point that the Republican plan was to be against whatever Obama was in favor of. That would not have changed by changing the focus to the economy and middle class incomes.

    If anything, such a move would have redoubled Republican opposition in that by opposing recovery, they could have more effectively made “Obama a one-term President”–their stated goal.

  18. C. Clavin says:

    @humanoid.panda:
    No doubt…but the stimulus could have been twice as big and more efficient.

  19. Ben Wolf says:

    @humanoid.panda:

    On the one hand, you don’t count that payroll tax cut, a lion’s share of the tax cuts portion of the ARRA as stimulus, and on the other you argue that if only Democrats cut more payroll taxes, that would have been sufficient stimulus.

    This makes no sense.

  20. Ben Wolf says:

    @humanoid.panda:

    The problem is that, absent a major war, it is really hard to spend 12% of GDP in a year of two (we are talking about what, 5-7-8 TRILLION dollars?). Pretty much the only form of stimulus that could push that kind money out the window was a mega-tax cut, and that was both politically problematic, and less stimulative than other forms of spending.
    We definitely needed more stimulus, but once your economy sinks that low that fast, a quick turnarond is pretty much impossible.

    Turnover. You aren’t considering turnover.

  21. Liberal With Attitude says:

    @C. Clavin:
    Yes, the idea that it was Obamacare that gave conservatives a cause to rally behind is laughably absurd.

    The black man in the White House is the cause they rally around- everything else is a pretext. They lost control of their bowels on election night 2008 and haven’t been lucid since.

  22. humanoid.panda says:

    @Ben Wolf: You complained that of the 700 billion dollar ARRA, only 400 were truly stimulative, because the rest are tax cuts. Then, you argue that the entirety of the demand hole could have been filled by tax cuts, and I’m not making sense?

  23. Ben Wolf says:

    @humanoid.panda: Also, 12% of GDP is a little over $1.6 trillion, not $7 trillion.

  24. Ben Wolf says:

    @humanoid.panda: No, I didn’t say anything about tax cuts in that comment.

  25. stonetools says:

    First of all, we need to establish some facts. The fiscal stimulus really was needed in 2009 and it really did work. Moreover, a bigger stimulus would have worked better. Krugtron really was right about this and the conservatives who thought stimulus was unnecessary or would be inflationary were dead wrong. We need to say this because the OP tends to be a devotee of Reason.org and various conservative think tanks who still preach the old time conservative religion.
    As to the size and shape of the stimulus, the guy who wrote the book , Michael Grunwald, thinks that politically the stimulus was as big as it could get. So no, Ben Wolf, Obama probably couldn’t get a bigger stimulus. I agree that a much larger stimulus would have worked much better, but it wasn’t politically possible.
    I argue that where Obama fell down was framing and messaging. Obama’s mistake was to embrace the stimulus as a triumph of Reasonable Bipartisan Compromise( and therefore specially blessed) and as just what was needed to turn the economy around. Obama’s advisers predicted the unemployment rate would not go above 8 per cent and that 2010 would be the “summer of recovery.” Wrong and wrong. This meant that Obama had no comeback to the Republicans “Where are the jobs” attacks in 2010.
    What Obama should have done, IMO, was to have gone all in arguing for a bigger stimulus. He should have insisted that we truly were facing a Great Depression 2 and that it was imperative we have a $1.5 trillion stimulus. He should attacked the Republicans for blocking a bigger stimulus and predicted that unemployment would go into double digits if Congress didn’t pass a bigger stimulus. That would have put him in a much better political position in summer of 2010.He could have said, “See! I was right about the need for a bigger stimulus, so the Republicans are to blame for this rising unemployment. Let’s pass another stimulus, or elect some Democrats that will pass a another round of stimulus.”
    Now that would be meant a much more combative and less kumbah yah like Obama in 2009, but given the Republicans’ scorched earth policy at the time, it would have been appropriate. Oh well, what might have been…

  26. Another Mike says:

    @stonetools:

    He should have insisted that we truly were facing a Great Depression 2 and that it was imperative we have a $1.5 trillion stimulus. He should attacked the Republicans for blocking a bigger stimulus and predicted that unemployment would go into double digits if Congress didn’t pass a bigger stimulus.

    The recession began in December 2007 and ended in Jun 2009, six months after President Obama took office. What he should have done is nothing and allowed the economy to shake itself out and correct itself. That may happen now.

  27. Stonetools says:

    @Another Mike:

    Er, Herbert Hoover tried the do nothing approach 1929-32 and it did not work out well for him or the country. But thanks for posting from the Land of Economic Know Nothingness. We need to know there are folks like you out there who have learned nothing from the past century of economic history. This might seem harsh , but man, crack an economic textbook.
    I’ll just say that if it wasn’t for the stimulus, we would most likely where Europe is, slipping back into yet another recession and undergoing our sixth year of double digit unemployment. You see, Europe actually followed the conservative program of engaging in modest stimulus, belt tightening and not doing much of anything. Guess what , they didn’t recover, and they envy our recovery, weak as it is. Europe is yet more proof that conservative economists got it totally wrong.

  28. Andre Kenji says:

    The problem was Healthcare Reform per se. No one knew exactly what should be done, there was too much time lost discussing and negotiating. It took so long to define it that it allowed the Republicans to define it.

  29. Davebo says:

    @Ben Wolf:

    I think you’re dreaming on FICA but still I understand your point.

    As to your issues with BJ posters look around. Who are you reading here?

  30. Kylopod says:

    It amazes me that in this entire discussion nobody is arguing what seems to me the most obvious point of all: maybe universal health care was worth doing regardless of the political consequences. Considering how many past presidents have tried and failed at it, and how even this attempt just barely passed a Senate with 60 Democrats, what better time was there? What, were Dems supposed to wait until after the midterms when they’d almost inevitably lose seats? Or till Obama’s second term? Were they supposed to put this generations-long goal on hold until the economy reached late-’90s-level prosperity? And then just assume they’d have as big an opportunity to pass such a bill as they did in 2009-10?

    For the record, I don’t believe that the passage of the bill was that big a factor in the GOP’s takeoever of Congress (though their demagoguing about Medicare cuts probably contributed to it) or that it stood in the way of fixing the economy (it cannot be forgotten that health care is itself an economic issue). Still, it is reasonable to debate what the political effects of Obamacare may have been. What is not reasonable is to suggest that the short-term political benefits are more important than the long-term policy impact.

  31. Ben Wolf says:

    @Davebo: BJers have no principles and switch sides like I change socks. I just like saying it and opportunistically siezed upon your comment to get my jollies.

  32. JWH says:

    President Bush (the original, not New Bush) called this “90/90 hindsight.”

  33. stonetools says:

    Just want to put a stake in the heart of the zombie lie that the stimulus didn’t work. This zombie lie, beloved by conservatives like the OP, won’t effing die, so it’s time to bury it again.

    On the most basic level, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act is responsible for saving and creating 2.5 million jobs. The majority of economists agree that it helped the economy grow by as much as 3.8 percent, and kept the unemployment rate from reaching 12 percent. The stimulus is the reason, in fact, that most Americans are better off than they were four years ago, when the economy was in serious danger of shutting down.

    But the stimulus did far more than stimulate: it protected the most vulnerable from the recession’s heavy winds. Of the act’s $840 billion final cost, $1.5 billion went to rent subsidies and emergency housing that kept 1.2 million people under roofs. (That’s why the recession didn’t produce rampant homelessness.) It increased spending on food stamps, unemployment benefits and Medicaid, keeping at least seven million Americans from falling below the poverty line.

    And as Mr. Grunwald shows, it made crucial investments in neglected economic sectors that are likely to pay off for decades. It jump-started the switch to electronic medical records, which will largely end the use of paper records by 2015. It poured more than $1 billion into comparative-effectiveness research on pharmaceuticals. It extended broadband Internet to thousands of rural communities. And it spent $90 billion on a huge variety of wind, solar and other clean energy projects that revived the industry. Republicans, of course, only want to talk about Solyndra, but most of the green investments have been quite successful, and renewable power output has doubled.

    BTW, Solynda? The energy loan program that financed Solyndra is turning a profit.

    http://www.npr.org/2014/11/13/363572151/after-solyndra-loss-u-s-energy-loan-program-turning-a-profit

    In 2011, solar panel company Solyndra defaulted on a $535 million loan guaranteed by the Department of Energy. The agency had a few other high-profile bankruptcies, too — electric car company Fisker and solar company Abound among them. But now that loan program has started turning a profit.

    Overall, the agency has loaned $34.2 billion to a variety of businesses, under a program designed to speed up development of clean-energy technology. Companies have defaulted on $780 million of that — a loss rate of 2.28 percent. The agency also has collected $810 million in interest payments, putting the program $30 million in the black….

    Now that the loan program is turning a profit, those critics are silent. They either declined or ignored NPR’s requests for comment. And with that, Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz wants to change people’s perception of his agency’s loan program.

    “It literally kick-started the whole utility-scale photovoltaic industry,” Moniz says. The program funded the first of five huge solar projects in the West. Moniz says before that, developers couldn’t get money from private lenders. But now, with proven business models, they can.

    So conservatives and Republicans are wrong again all around-AGAIN.
    Now I doubt I will change conservatives’ mind on this. Creationists have their 6000 year old earth and their “creation science”: conservatives have their myth that the stimulus failed. But the truth needs to be stated, and liberals need to defend the truth. Maybe the single biggest failure of the Democrats was their cowardly refusal to defend the truth: a cowardice that was rewarded with heavy defeat in the 2014 elections. A lesson for liberals here: stand up and fight for what’s true and what’s right. Running away from the fight will not be rewarded, politically or otherwise.

  34. Andre Kenji says:

    @Kylopod: What Universal Healthcare? I agree that decreasing the number of uninsured is a worthy goal, but I know what Universal Healthcare is. There is nothing resembling Universal Healthcare in the US.

  35. stonetools says:

    @Andre Kenji:

    There is nothing resembling Universal Healthcare in the US.

    Whoa, there . Don’t let the best be the enemy of the good. You sound like the liberals here in the USA who howled that if Obama didn’t pass single payer, then what passed would be just a sellout to the insurance companies, worse than no law at all,etc.
    The ACA isn’t perfect, but it’s a major advance toward universal health insurance. The alternative isn’t single payer: it’s nothing, with tens of millions of uninsured lacking access to health care. That’s what conservatives have on offer.
    Eventually, once the ACA is established and we fend off attempts by those sociopaths over at Volokh who are trying to wreck the ACA, we can add on to the ACA: a public option, Medicaid reform and other things that will move us to full universal health care. But we’ve got to start where we are, not in in some paralell earth la-la land where single payer was a viable option.

  36. Another Mike says:

    @Stonetools:

    Er, Herbert Hoover tried the do nothing approach 1929-32 and it did not work out well for him or the country.

    Hoover’s was not a do nothing approach, but it didn’t work. Neither did Roosevelt’s. But the war worked, or rather ending the war.

  37. stonetools says:

    @Another Mike:

    Hoover’s approach was for the most part do nothing. This is what his Treasury Secretary advocated:

    He advised President Herbert Hoover to “liquidate labor, liquidate stocks, liquidate farmers, liquidate real estate… it will purge the rottenness out of the system. High costs of living and high living will come down. People will work harder, live a more moral life. Values will be adjusted, and enterprising people will pick up from less competent people,” but Hoover disregarded his advice and intervened in the market, though with little success.[14] Additionally, Mellon advocated weeding out “weak” banks as a harsh but necessary prerequisite to the recovery of the banking system. This “weeding out” was accomplished through refusing to lend cash to banks (taking loans and other investments as collateral), and by refusing to put more cash in circulation. He advocated spending cuts to keep the federal budget balanced, and opposed fiscal stimulus measures.

    So, austerity, and “do nothing”, essentially. When things plummeted steadily downward and the “purging” didn’t work, Hoover began to propose modest stimulus in the final year of his Presidency, but it didn’t amount to much.
    When FDR got in, he started a much more robust stimulus program. It worked , with unemployment falling from 25 per cent in 1932 to 13 per cent in 1935.

    The economy had hit bottom in March 1933 and then started to expand. Economic indicators show the economy reached nadir in the first days of March, then began a steady, sharp upward recovery. Thus the Federal Reserve Index of Industrial Production sank to its lowest point of 52.8 in July 1932 (with 1935–39 = 100) and was practically unchanged at 54.3 in March 1933; however by July 1933, it reached 85.5, a dramatic rebound of 57% in four months. Recovery was steady and strong until 1937. Except for employment, the economy by 1937 surpassed the levels of the late 1920s. The Recession of 1937 was a temporary downturn. Private sector employment, especially in manufacturing, recovered to the level of the 1920s but failed to advance further until the war

    Unemployment remained high until 1941, when the biggest stimulus program of all-World War 2-finally restored the economy. Note that it was fiscal stimulus that restored the economy-not “tax reform”, deficit reduction, austerity or other conservative nostrums.

  38. Moosebreath says:

    @Kylopod:

    “It amazes me that in this entire discussion nobody is arguing what seems to me the most obvious point of all: maybe universal health care was worth doing regardless of the political consequences. Considering how many past presidents have tried and failed at it, and how even this attempt just barely passed a Senate with 60 Democrats, what better time was there?”

    This. If Democrats were unwilling to pass their signature desire when they have the majorities they had in 2009-2010, then when would it ever pass?

  39. Andre Kenji says:

    @stonetools: I do agree that decreasing the number of uninsured is a worthy goal, maybe as worthy that having Mitch McConnell as Majority Leader is a worthy price to pay. The same thing can be said about pre existing conditions.

    But Universal Health care is a completely different thing. and access to healthcare is still problematic.

  40. Moosebreath says:

    Longer response outsourced to Brian Beutler:

    “The health care reform process didn’t begin in earnest until after the Recovery Act had already passed, at which point Congress’ willingness and ability to pass another big deficit-financed stimulus bill had been maxed out. Maybe Schumer has other ideas in mind—labor rights? Housing policy? A different entitlement?—but he’s never laid out what the achievable alternative was, and how the middle-class and Democratic Party would’ve been better off as a result.

    That’s because there never really was an alternative. Not that Democrats couldn’t have done a better job helping the economy recover—I believe they could have—but that the One Big Thing they cashed their capital in on wasn’t really up to them. Health care reform was basically pre-packaged, and ready to go because that’s where the consensus was. If after such a decisive victory and once-in-a-generation majorities, Obama announced he would go small on health care reform, or put it off for another time (like he did with immigration reform) the backlash would’ve been severe. It would’ve been his first major elective move as president, and it would’ve splintered his coalition very badly.”

  41. Yolo Contendere says:

    I would just like Chuck to explain to me why the middle class, which by definition is already better off, are more deserving of help than the poors. Also, what makes this particular brand of class warfare acceptable.

    Oh, and Chuck? This:

    “The plight of uninsured Americans and the hardships created by unfair insurance company practices certainly needed to be addressed,” the senator said. “But it wasn’t the change we were hired to make” in the 2008 election.

    was actually the change you were hired to make. Part of it anyway. Because those things don’t just affect the poor and uninsured.

  42. Yolo Contendere says:

    You missed the best part of that article.

    Asked by a reporter whether he could pinpoint any errors in the plan or the way it was rolled out, Schumer responded by pointing to the passage of minimum wage increases in red states as evidence that the platform worked and must be expanded.

    Yeah Chuck, you mean those same red states that elected Republicans? In some cases ones that had recently been adamantly against a minimum wage increase, if not against having a minimum wage at all? Yeah, that’s a winner. Don’t know why we don’t listen to you more.

  43. KJSimon says:

    “the evidence just doesn’t support his argument.” My teenaged son has developed an interesting expression as in “Dad those people are really “LOCED” which stands for Lack of Common Sense. Those people who refuse to see the the proverbial writing on the wall here regarding the ACA, are totally LOCED. What more evidence does one want or need. Since Obama was elected the Democrats have lost 55 House Seats, and now the Senate. Senitor Schumer is only the first of many more Democrats who will be speaking out about the political cost of Obama’s Health Care First AT ALL COST policy. I understand that Pat Cadell visited with Obama soon after his election in 2008. After strongly urging the new president to put “Jobs First” and Health Care Reform Second, he was told in no uncertain terms, that Health Care WAS the priority. Upon exiting the Oval Office, Cadell’s comment “Those guys act like there is never going to be another election” has turned out to be in fact prophetic.

  44. Kylopod says:

    @KJSimon:

    What more evidence does one want or need. Since Obama was elected the Democrats have lost 55 House Seats, and now the Senate.

    Yes, because everybody knows that whenever one event happens at a later date than another event, it proves that the first event caused the second. After all, the later event couldn’t have caused the earlier one! So it can only be the other way round! Common sense, people! For example, ever since I started writing on this blog, John Boehner has been turning steadily more orange. I’ve been going to doctor after doctor, but none has been able to prescribe an antidote for the strange effect my Internet writing has on the House Speaker’s coloring. Maybe you can hook me up with your teenage son so he can offer one of his common-sense solutions. But we must hurry, because it won’t be long before the Speaker completes his transformation into a carrot!

  45. Grewgills says:

    @KJSimon:
    1) How the hell does LOCED turn into lack of common sense, does your son spell sense with an e?
    2) Perhaps you missed the election two years after passage of the PPACA where Obama was pretty convincingly reelected. It seems that if someone applied common sense they would see that his signature piece of legislation didn’t prevent his reelection.

  46. @Grewgills:

    Perhaps you missed the election two years after passage of the PPACA where Obama was pretty convincingly reelected. It seems that if someone applied common sense they would see that his signature piece of legislation didn’t prevent his reelection.

    Details, details.

  47. @Ben Wolf: $750 billion or so in 2009 FICA revenue would be at stake. That would be a very good start but probably insufficient given contractions at the state and local level. 1.5T over 2 or 3 years with most of it being spent or not taxed on people with very high marginal propensity to consumer (ie the poor, cash and credit constrained).

    A much smaller package in Stimulus 1 (ARRA) got how many Republican votes? 3 of which 1 later switched parties (Specter)

    Please tell me how to get significant Republican votes for extensive stimulus that would have multipliers greater than 1 (ie accelerated depreciation and capital gains tax cuts fail that criteria)