To a casual observer’s eyes, Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) is flogging a dead horse. He keeps hinting that the GOP is intentionally try to damage the economy or forestall recovery because it will improve their election chances in 2012. But he also keeps inching closer to outright declaring it.
He took another step in that direction Friday. On a conference call Friday morning, another reporter asked Schumer whether he believes the GOP’s committing sabotage (my words, not the reporter’s). Here’s his response.
“It’s a thought you just don’t want to believe in, because that would be [horrible],” Schumer said. “But every day they keep giving us more and more evidence that there’s no choice but to answer the question ‘yes.’ They give us no choice but to come to that conclusion.”This all started when top Republicans decided that they wouldn’t support a temporary payroll tax holiday for employers — a policy Republicans supported broadly in the past. On Friday, Schumer cited a trick Finance Committee Republicans pulled Thursday to block a hearing on pending Free Trade Agreements. They all declined to attend, which left the committee short of a quorum, and thus forced Chairman Max Baucus (D-MT) to cancel it. Ranking member Orrin Hatch (R-UT) claimed his caucus was simply mad that the hearing was starting at 3 p.m. instead of 10 a.m. and would have gladly attended at an earlier hour.
But Republicans — who’ve always loved free trade, and supposedly support these particular agreements — have been objecting to them on the grounds that Democrats are insisting they be paired with Trade Adjustment Assistance for displaced workers — another policy Republicans have supported in the past.
Schumer pointed out that the GOP had 48 hours notice of the schedule and asked, “was this really inconvenient for every Republican Senator?” It raises the question, he said, of whether “no Republican can work on any measure that gives slightest help to the economy.”
Republicans haven’t really been pressed to respond to this line of attack, but it’s reached such a pitch at this point that they’re going to have to speak up soon.