Today at the Democratic National Convention, Sen. Charles Schumer stopped by the Big Tent and ThinkProgress was able to speak with him about whether the “fundamentals of the economy are strong,” as Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) has stated. Schumer pointed to the decreasing buying power of the average U.S. family and criticized conservatives for launching petty attacks while ignoring the real issues facing Americans:
SCHUMER: The economy is in worse shape than the numbers show. When you look at the macro numbers, you fail to look at where all the positives have gone, which is the top 1 or 5 percent. [...]
Between 2001 and and 2007 — this was before the recession — incomes went down $1,000 for the average family. But buying power went down $9,000, if you include college tuition for families with tuition. So the average family was living at a level of $47,000 in 2001, and is living at a level of $38,000 in 2007. It’s worse now, obviously. So for the average middle-class person, it’s not just, “Oh, things aren’t great.” Things are tough.
I just saw Karl Rove outside. This is what he doesn’t get. He’s busy talking about I don’t know — the marble columns in Invesco [Field]. When people are feeling pretty good about things, they like that kind of stuff: “Oh that’s fun; Barack Obama’s an emperor.” When people are hurting, it doesn’t work.
Schumer was referring to conservative outrage over the fact that Sen. Barack Obama (D-IL) will be delivering his acceptance speech in Denver before an “elaborate columned stage resembling a miniature Greek temple.” As ThinkProgress reported, these attacks are silly, since Republicans have used similar backdrops for their events.
According to recent polls, most Americans point to the economy as the top issue they’re concerned about. Obama’s backdrop doesn’t appear on the list of concerns.