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Posted at 3:34 PM ET, 01/19/2011

AFL-CIO's Trumka calls for focus on job creation

By Lori Montgomery

President Obama should issue a "call to action" to invest in jobs and bring down the nation's chronically high unemployment rate, instead of sparring with Republicans over budget cuts that threaten to further weaken the American economy, AFL-CIO president Richard Trumka said Wednesday.

In a warning directed at both newly resurgent Republicans in Congress and the Obama administration, Trumka lamented the fixation in both parties with record budget deficits and urged the president to use next week's State of the Union address to refocus the debate in Washington on jobs.

"We are a nation that still has choices," Trumka said in a speech at the National Press Club. "We don't need to hunker down, dial back our expectations, and surrender our children's hope for a great education, our parents' right to a comfortable retirement, our own health and economic security, our nation's aspiration to make things again - or our human right to advance our situation by forming a union if we want one. All these things are within the reach of the great country we live in."

But in Washington, Trumka said, "an Alice-in-Wonderland political climate" has taken hold. "In this topsy-turvy world, the same leaders who fought so valiantly to cut taxes for the wealthy turn right around and lecture us about the imminent bankruptcy of Social Security and Medicare. So let me get this straight: We need to slash retirement and health benefits for the elderly because we are on the brink of fiscal crisis. But we can afford to squander hundreds of billions of dollars in tax cuts for the super-rich. Only at the Mad Hatter's tea party does this make sense."

The AFL-CIO and other labor groups spent millions of dollars to support Democratic candidates during the recent congressional midterm elections, only to watch them lose in many districts to conservatives buoyed by the small-government tea party movement. Those losses, Trumka said, were "fundamentally about jobs," and he predicted that the party that can chart a vision for a more productive future for American workers will benefit in the 2012 presidential campaign.

In his speech and an earlier interview, Trumka criticized Obama's failure to articulate a coherent jobs policy even as unemployment has hovered for months above nine percent. While the president's proposals to increase government investments in education and infrastructure would move the nation in the right direction, he said, they would invest too little to make much of a dent in the problem.

"It's scale," he said in an interview. "There has to be scale to create jobs."

For example, Obama's proposal to fund a $50 billion infrastructure bank next year is a good idea, Trumka said, "you need a ten-year commitment" to make a real difference.
"We are falling behind because we are governing from fear, not from confidence. And we have let our transnational business titans convince our politicians that our national strength lies in their profits, not our jobs," Trumka said in the speech. "We have failed to invest in the good-wage growth path that is essential to our survival."

Trumka also said he is frustrated by Obama's efforts to mend ties with the business community, including a plan announced Tuesday to review existing federal regulations with an eye toward eliminating rules that stifle job growth - a key demand by business leaders.

"We don't share the view that regulations have cost jobs or been a burden on the economy," said Peg Seminario, director of health and safety for the AFL-CIO. "In fact when you look at the financial crisis, it was the lack of regulations that led to outrageous abuses by Wall Street and the collapse of the economy."

Under questioning by reporters, however, Trumka blamed Republican efforts to obstruct the president's agenda for bulk of the nation's economic ills.

By Lori Montgomery  | January 19, 2011; 3:34 PM ET
Categories:  *Economic agenda, Unemployment  
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Next: Economic agenda: Thursday, Jan. 20, 2011

Comments

This just about sums it up:

"So let me get this straight: We need to slash retirement and health benefits for the elderly because we are on the brink of fiscal crisis. But we can afford to squander hundreds of billions of dollars in tax cuts for the super-rich. Only at the Mad Hatter's tea party does this make sense.""
and
"And we have let our transnational business titans convince our politicians that our national strength lies in their profits, not our jobs,"

there is a Revolution brewing somewhere...

Posted by: Former LLC now Sole Proprietor | January 19, 2011 4:43 PM | Report abuse

"By the people for the people". These liberal wacko's would change it to "by the government for the government". What money do we pay them with? His kids inheritance should go first in this case. If we increase the government at the peoples expense then it is the WRONG thing to do. The PEOPLE are what matter here, not the government. If Government employees don’t like the furloughs, then they can quit and get a private sector job like everyone else. Many private sector people are faced with that kind of decision every day. Then the others say "tax the rich to pay for it". THAT my friends is against everything our founding fathers believed. Don’t believe me? then listen to the FATHER of the Democratic party " I predict future happiness for Americans if they can prevent the
government from wasting the labors of the people under the pretense of taking care of them."
Thomas Jefferson
He wasn't alone. Most founders said the same. Liberalism IS un-American!
"It would be thought a hard government
that should tax its people one tenth part."
Benjamin Franklin

10%? We wish! No Ben try 60%........

Posted by: thatavkguy | January 19, 2011 5:01 PM | Report abuse

While I agree with most of what Trumka is saying, I need to ask where did the jobs go? More importantly why did they go? Have unions caused this problem? Maybe not completely to blame, but companies could not afford to keep up with their demands. People lost their jobs for the greed of the unions. A company is in existence to make money, not solely to provide jobs. Who are they to say you are making too much. If labor unions would restrict themselves to being only a watchdog for EEOC rules violations and stop structuring salaries and benefits packages, maybe the jobs would still be in the U.S..

Posted by: Anonymous | January 19, 2011 5:02 PM | Report abuse

Part of the reason that Democrats lost so heavily is NOT because of Republicans, but because Democrats have been snubbing the American worker in favor of illegal aliens. Just before the election, Democrats tried to ram an amnesty for 2.1 million illegal aliens, the Dream Act, down our throats. 55 Democratic Senators, including two from my home state of Michigan, which has the second highest unemployment rate in the country, voted for this bill. One of them, Carl Levin, even co-sponsored it. Now, if the AFL-CIO is REALLY concerned about "job creation" maybe it should re-consider the devil's bargain it's made: amnesty in return for control over future guest worker programs. Fact is, the American WORKER is losing out with this deal.

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Posted by: Anonymous | January 20, 2011 10:22 PM | Report abuse

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