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Schumer to Tea Party: Government is a good thing

In a near hour-long rallying cry entitled, "The Rise and Potential Fall of the Tea Party," Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) called on Democrats Thursday to defeat the Tea Party by rewriting their mission statement and embracing more government.

"We must stop playing defense and go on offense," charged the man, who many believe will succeed Harry Reid as majority leader someday, from the podium at the Center for American Progress, a liberal think tank. "We must state loudly and repeatedly that we believe government is often a necessary force for good."

Schumer criticized his party for allowing the Tea Party's message of government as "bogeyman" to go unchallenged and pointed to the Democrats' failure to respond as the source of the Tea Party's success.

"It is up to us to answer the Tea Party," Schumer said, "and expose its fundamental contradictions that government is not always the problem and is often the solution to middle-class woes."

The New York senator was also critical of Democrats for their focus on health-care legislation instead of addressing income-inequality issues immediately after passing the stimulus in the wake of the economic crisis. 

"It was a worthy goal, but it wasn't at the top of most Americans' to-do lists," Schumer remarked. "It's not that they were against reforming our health-care system, but for the 90% who had employer sponsored health care or government health care- Medicare or Medicaid, it seemed beside the point."

That was a strikingly different tone than that of Vice President Joe Biden, who just this morning, rallied the party-faithful behind the president's landmark legislation.

Then, Schumer laid out his detailed solutions to the problem of income inequality. It centers on the government's ability to help restore the middle class by raising the minimum wage, helping pay for college, and revitalize national infrastructure and equal pay for women.

"We can take America back to a place where gridlock fades, smart government-oriented solutions pass, and the middle class can reclaim the American Dream," Schumer said.

He went so far as to suggest it would help Democratic politics.

"It will help us to win the election in November to boot," he said.