Senator Schumer sets out a lofty set of policy goals in his new book, but political analysts say almost all of them will be difficult, if not impossible, to accomplish.
Mr. Schumer uses his book, “Positively American,” to apply his “50% solution” to issues ranging from reading and math scores (he wants them increased by 50%) to property taxes that fund education (he wants them slashed by 50%).
A professor of public affairs at Baruch College, Douglas Muzzio, equated the goals to the 1964 hit song “Wishin’ and Hopin’.”
“It’s a lot of wishing and hoping. It’s all good stuff, but there’s an air that it’s unrealistic in terms of implementation,” Mr. Muzzio said. Others noted that Mr. Schumer’s new stature in Washington after orchestrating the Democratic takeover of the Senate would prompt more people to pay attention to the platform he is laying out as the country moves into the 2008 election cycle.
The 274-page book, which Mr. Schumer was jovially plugging earlier this week during an event at City Hall, hits on 11 policy areas that will help the Democratic Party “win back the middle class.” Throughout the book, he applies the issues as bread-and-butter concerns of a fictitious three-child family, the Baileys, who earn a combined $75,000 and live on Long Island.
In addition to improving test scores and reducing property taxes, Mr. Schumer proposes raising the number of college graduates by 50%, as well as increasing the nation’s ability to fight terrorism and upping the number of legal immigrants by the same percentage.
He also outlines ways to reduce the nation’s dependency on foreign oil, decrease cancer deaths, slash childhood obesity, cut the number of illegal immigrants, reduce abortions, cut children’s access to the pornography on the Internet, and scale back tax evasion — all by 50%.
On immigration, Mr. Schumer proposes “real enforcement measures” against employers who hire illegal immigrants, and creating an employment card for all legal workers, something Mayor Bloomberg also has pushed for.
“The system today is out of control,” Mr. Schumer writes. “Whether you are an employer or an immigrant, breaking the law gets you ahead.”
A former Democratic congressman from the Bronx, Herman Badillo, whose book “One Nation, One Standard” came under fire from some who said it was too critical of his Hispanic community, said enforcement measures have been voted on for years.
“I voted for that when I was in Congress way back in ’72 or ’74, and it still hasn’t been enforced,” Mr. Badillo said.
Mr. Schumer says the federal government should persuade individual localities to freeze property taxes that fund education in exchange for more federal education money.
“Between inflation and prevented increases, this freeze will easily cut property taxes that fund education within 10 years,” the senator writes.
A budget analyst at the Manhattan Institute, E.J. McMahon, said he was encouraged to see Mr. Schumer call for a freeze on the property taxes but called the plan “simplistic” and criticized the idea of increasing education spending from another source.
Others have championed the idea of more federal education spending, which would take the burden off the city and state.
A spokeswoman for Mr. Schumer, Risa Heller, said the goals in the book are both “ambitious” and “attainable.” “Everyone thought Senator Schumer couldn’t take back the Senate,” she said in an e-mail.
The director of the Center for an Urban Future, Jonathan Bowles, said he is happy Mr. Schumer is “shooting high.”
“It’s good to have a high target to shoot at,” Mr. Bowles said. “Pushing the envelope can be a good thing. If it turned out that we can only achieve 30% changes in these areas, that would probably be a hell of an accomplishment.”
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