In it, but not of it. TPM DC

Cantor's JOBS Act Drives Wedge Between Obama, Labor


AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka said he was "disappointed and angry" that the bill received so much support. "This is a vote against investors in the real economy and for Wall Street speculators," he said in a scorching statement after the bill passed in late March. "When the next bubble bursts, Americans will know who to blame."

Weeks later, tensions haven't yet cooled. A top AFL-CIO official this week told In These Times magazine that Trumka, a key Obama ally, is "personally outraged by the JOBS Act and the implication that this administration thinks that it's going to be good for the country to re-inflate a stock market bubble."

Unsurprisingly, the friction isn't enough to burn up AFL-CIO's endorsement of Obama for reelection. Though the administration and its union allies often find themselves on opposite sides of important issues, AFL-CIO has been instrumental in advancing key elements of Obama's agenda, particularly health care reform. And as the 2012 election nears, union enthusiasm could have a substantial impact on Democratic voter turnout.

The Service Employees International Union, the second-largest labor union, also strongly opposed the JOBS Act and tried unsuccessfully to stop it.

Politically, both the GOP leader and the White House, despite their well-documented clashes, had incentives to link arms on the JOBS Act: It helped soften Cantor's image as an ideological hatchet-man and allowed President Obama to tout his willingness to work with Republicans. That yielded an exceedingly rare display of solidarity between the two foes.

"The president said today that he's always believed that it's the private sector that is the job generator in this country," Cantor said at White House the signing ceremony. "I agree with him, and I think most Americans agree with him."

About The Author


Sahil Kapur is TPM's senior congressional reporter and Supreme Court correspondent. His articles have been published in the Huffington Post, The Guardian and The New Republic. Email him at and follow him on Twitter at @sahilkapur.

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