Greg Sargent of The Washington Post scored an interview with Chuck Schumer today in which the senior senator–and Democratic messaging chief seemed to make common cause with those kids in Zuccotti Park:
“Occupy Wall Street has resonance far beyond the protests,” Mr. Schumer told The Post. “Whether middle class people agree with the protests or not, the vast majority believes that they’re part of the 99 percent and that something should be done to help them.”
Mr. Schumer did not visit the protests, as some of the local elected officials did, and kept a fair distance from them for the first couple of weeks of the protests. But that doesn’t mean that Mr. Schumer thinks that the protests will hurt Democrats as much as Republicans say–because, he told Sargent, Occupy Wall Street has the same message that he has been promoting, that GOP policies help the super-rich at the expense of everyone else:
“The number one fact of our political economy for the last decade is declining middle class incomes,” Schumer said. “When the American Dream is no longer a virtual certainty to most Americans, it becomes a different country…Inequality is a driving issue. What highlights inequality is middle class incomes declining.”
Schumer said that when middle class Americans are doing well, they don’t mind that those at the top are doing really well, too. “But when middle class incomes are declining and the top one percent are doing extremely well, that makes people say, `Wait a second. We have to do something about it.’”
Schumer added that growing public awareness about inequality would ensure that the 2012 elections would be different from 2010.
“Middle class incomes were declining,” Schumer said, speaking about the last elections. “But in 2010 Democrats were not seen as focusing on those issues, but rather seen as focused on health care, which was the right thing to do, but the benefits were not well understood by most voters. Republicans came in and said, `We can solve your problem by shrinking government.’”
Inequality: A Winning Issue for Dems in2012 [Greg Sargent/Washington Post]