Democrats unveil agenda aimed at keeping Senate
March 26th, 2014
03:32 PM ET
6 months ago

Democrats unveil agenda aimed at keeping Senate

(CNN) - Democrats in jeopardy of losing control of the Senate this year unveiled a 2014 agenda on Wednesday filled with carefully crafted language and messaging aimed at middle class voters they believe will decide many key races.

Dubbing it a "Fair Shot for Everyone," and using the words "fair" or "fairness" in as many sentences as they could, Senate Democratic leaders announced they will focus on issues like raising the minimum wage, making college and child care more affordable, and closing tax loopholes that encourage companies to hire overseas.

They will use their power as the majority party to set the Senate agenda and bring up about a bill a week through the August recess, when senators up for re-election will go home for a month of full-time campaigning.

Democrats hold a 55-45 majority in the Senate (53 Democrats and two Independents who caucus with the party), but are defending 21 of the 36 seats up in November.

Most Democrats argue trying to reframe the debate by tapping into middle class frustration is the best way to fend off GOP challengers this year, many of whom will be focused on hitting Democrats on Obamacare. This agenda gives Democrats tangible legislation for debate, voting and campaigning.

Democratic strategists are banking on the fact that public anger about Obamacare isn't so much about the health care law itself, but rather an outlet for voters exasperated with a system that makes it hard to get ahead, especially middle class voters.

"I do not think ACA (Affordable Care Act) will be the number one issue. For many people, it's a surrogate. They're upset with everything that's happening, they hear all these ads, and think 'Oh it's Obamacare' but they know it isn't," said Sen. Chuck Schumer, a New York Democrat, who helped come up with this agenda.

"Most Americans want to hear something positive. 'What are you going to do for me?' Republicans are going to give them no answers on that," said Schumer.

While Schumer and other Democrats argue that national polls do not put Obamacare high on voters' priority list, Democrats also concede they must not run from attacks on the health care law as they have done in the past. In fact, many endangered Democrats are adopting the "fix it, don't end it" approach on the campaign trail.

At their news conference announcing their agenda, Senate Democrats blamed the media for being "fixated" on Obamacare much more than the public, arguing that about 85% of Americans get health care through their employer or Medicare and Medicaid, and are not directly affected by the health care law.

Democrats also argued that Republicans who took the House in 2010 campaigning against Obamacare never snatched the Senate from Democratic hands.

But a look at the 2014 map of Senate seats in play may make this year different. Half of the 21 seats Democrats are defending are on very tough terrain – in red or purple states where the repeal Obamacare message hits home with anti-government voters, even to those not directly affected by the ACA.

Still, some Republicans recognize being against Obamacare may not be enough and they, too, must also offer a "positive agenda" for voters.

House Speaker John Boehner is hoping to use his party's ability to set the House agenda to do something similar to what Democrats are doing in the Senate – offer a series of election-year bills to show voters what Republicans are for.

However, House Republicans have not settled yet on what that agenda is – especially when it comes to a hotly debated issue inside the House GOP – whether to provide and vote on a Republican alternative to Obamacare.

In a news conference on Wednesday, Boehner argued that Republicans must show voters they are the "party of better ideas" but would not say how, or when House Republicans intend to act.


Filed under: 2014 • Congress • Senate Democrats
soundoff (19 Responses)
  1. Silence DoGood

    "Most Americans want to hear something positive. 'What are you going to do for me?' Republicans are going to give them no answers on that," said Schumer.
    -----------–
    GOP answer #1 – if you are poor or sick or not white or not christian, it is your own fault
    GOP answer #2 – let corporations do anything they want and it will be OK – they are not to be questioned

    March 26, 2014 03:38 pm at 3:38 pm |
  2. Fair is Fair

    "Dubbing it a "Fair Shot for Everyone," and using the words "fair" or "fairness" in as many sentences as they could, Senate Democratic leaders announced they will focus on issues like raising the minimum wage, making college and child care more affordable, and closing tax loopholes that encourage companies to hire overseas."
    ---------
    All they have to do is campaign on the incredible success of Obamacare and they'll gain seats. Right?

    March 26, 2014 03:45 pm at 3:45 pm |
  3. Sniffit

    Another journalistic black hole.

    March 26, 2014 03:46 pm at 3:46 pm |
  4. Dems in PA

    Crafted language and messaging isn’t going to help the Democratic Party this November!

    Democratic Party health care is the worst piece of legislation produced and once again the voters will hold the Democratic Party accountable. Even better will be when those in the Democratic Party get tried for crimes against the American people.

    March 26, 2014 04:00 pm at 4:00 pm |
  5. Sniffit

    "All they have to do is campaign on the incredible success of Obamacare and they'll gain seats. Right?"

    Considering how close it's likely to come to its target number of 7M despite being offline for 2 months...pretty darn good.

    Considering that the GOP/Teatrolls across the country have used their positions of power in state gov't to enact all sorts of state legislation designed to hamper and break the implementation of the law (such as taking away the state's insurance commissioner's power to regulate premium hikes that are excessive)...pretty darn good.

    Considering the same GOPers/Teatrolls have deliberately prevented 5M+ people from obtaining insurance under the Medicaid expansion, for no other reason than to try to screw up implementation of the law...pretty darn good.

    Considering the over $1.3B in rebate checks that the insurance industry had to hand out last year for overcharging on premiums under the 80/20 rule...pretty darn good.

    Considering that the Koch brothers and Teatrolls have yet to produce a commercial that stars someone that claims to have suffered horribly as a result of the ACA and which is fact-checked and found accurate and honest instead of being proven full of exaggerations and lies...pretty darn good.

    The list is long and try as you might, the GOP/Teatrolls are not going to be able to undo it. Moreover, polls are showing that people are fatigued and sick of hearing the demagoguery at this point. Please proceed to continue parroting it.

    March 26, 2014 04:05 pm at 4:05 pm |
  6. wise guy

    Fair, don't you find it odd, the all the people hannity, and the Koch brothers saying their lives are being destroyed by obamacare, are lying, the two on hannity admitted never even trying to get insurance, another had her premiums go down 1200 a month .
    WTH?

    March 26, 2014 04:06 pm at 4:06 pm |
  7. wise guy

    Dems, you have a hook in your mouth, sucker! My insurance is the best I've had in over ten years, and my premiums went down, just a little under 60 per month, no subsidies

    March 26, 2014 04:08 pm at 4:08 pm |
  8. Malory Archer

    Dems in PA

    Crafted language and messaging isn’t going to help the Democratic Party this November!

    Democratic Party health care is the worst piece of legislation produced and once again the voters will hold the Democratic Party accountable. Even better will be when those in the Democratic Party get tried for crimes against the American people.

    +++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

    Yeah, except every time your ilk lies about the AHCA, the truth outs in a matter of minutes and makes you look like the fools that you are. As for charging the Dems for "crimes against America", that's gonna have to wait as the the crimes of the previous occupant of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue and his handlers are on the docket first, and that's gonna take quite some time to sort through. Yeah, yeah, I know, they're no longer in office but the fact of the matter is there's no statute of limitations on war crimes.

    March 26, 2014 04:10 pm at 4:10 pm |
  9. Malory Archer

    Sniffit

    Another journalistic black hole.

    +++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

    Ah, but it gives the usual suspects something to spew about.

    March 26, 2014 04:11 pm at 4:11 pm |
  10. Celebrity Dictator

    It took FOUR years to get close to 40% of the population to like Obamacare. Remember, that this is a TAX according to Justice Roberts – something that Obama himself argued it was not. That in itself tells one all they need to know about it. It was said that 7 million signups were needed. The Administration got 4 million – 900k which didn't even pay yet. So they've got 3 million paid members (who knows how many of those are people who LOST their healthcare due to Obamacare's new regulations too). Let's not forget the lie of the century – "if you like your doctor and healthcare, you can keep them – period". If you're still not convinced that this whole thing is a sham, you're an idiot who should't be voting.

    March 26, 2014 04:29 pm at 4:29 pm |
  11. O'drama ya Mama

    Fair is Fair

    "Dubbing it a "Fair Shot for Everyone," and using the words "fair" or "fairness" in as many sentences as they could, Senate Democratic leaders announced they will focus on issues like raising the minimum wage, making college and child care more affordable, and closing tax loopholes that encourage companies to hire overseas."
    ---
    All they have to do is campaign on the incredible success of Obamacare and they'll gain seats. Right?
    March 26, 2014 03:45 pm at 3:45 pm |
    _________________________________________________________________________________________________

    Democrats dont need to keep voters focused on a single topic because they actually have ideas to put forth.

    March 26, 2014 04:35 pm at 4:35 pm |
  12. Anthony

    Obamacare is on pace to sign up more than 6 million people, even with its disastrous start. Republicans, you are in for a big surprise when the final enrollment number is announced.

    March 26, 2014 04:36 pm at 4:36 pm |
  13. just asking

    Democrats unveil agenda aimed at keeping Senate
    --

    translation: democrats unveil agenda aimed at lying to voters and distracting the voters from the destruction of their healthcare system at the democrats hands and their total failure for 7 years of controlling the senate.

    most of america already knows the democrats lied to them and screwed them over with obamacare. fairness? where is the 'fairness' in young people getting screwed for expensive healthcare policies to pay for others? where is the 'fairness' of record unemployment for 5 years going on 6? record food stamps, record debt, record high tax collections, and still running massive deficits. where is the 'fairness' in the all the people democrats policies have put into poverty because they are killing jobs?

    March 26, 2014 04:55 pm at 4:55 pm |
  14. tom l

    I'm wondering if Tampa Tim knows why some governors decided not to expand Medicaid...

    March 26, 2014 05:04 pm at 5:04 pm |
  15. Ron L

    The Democrats will NOT lose the Senate IF they present the difference between them and the Republicans AND they get apathetic voters to VOTE!! "THIS" version of the Republican party is so negative about everything it is just pathetic. They continually complain and offer nothing to help the struggling or less fortunate Americans. Just SAD, SAD, SAD.

    March 26, 2014 05:12 pm at 5:12 pm |
  16. me too

    Here's something interesting. Look up the word psychopath. The definition is Republican! Narcissistic. Expects to be recognized as superior without superior accomplishments. No empathy. Fantasies of great power and intelligence. Arrogant behavior. Self inflated grandiose feelings. Expectations of special treatment. Lack of conscience. Pathological lying. Lack of realistic long-term goals, etc , etc.

    March 26, 2014 05:25 pm at 5:25 pm |
  17. Marie MD

    The ACA is not going away. I cannot believe that the teaklans would or could take medical insurance to almost 6 million Americans and not come out like the piece of crud they are.
    Democrats need to learn to stick together just like these fools do. Same thoughts, same insane sayings, same rhetoric, same lies.

    March 26, 2014 05:25 pm at 5:25 pm |
  18. Dead Bear

    @Dems in PA... Just change it to Bagger in PA. Suits you better.

    March 26, 2014 05:25 pm at 5:25 pm |
  19. jim

    Not likely anything is going to stop them from losing the senate.

    March 26, 2014 05:35 pm at 5:35 pm |