AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka hasn’t been shy in recent weeks about speaking out against President Obama’s willingness to compromise with Republicans on everything from the super committee to the so-called Gang of Six’s approach to deficit reduction, but last night he seemed elated over Obama’s jobs plan and his pledge to “go to the mat” for workers.
“The President took an important and necessary step tonight: he started a serious national conversation about how to solve our jobs crisis,” Trumka said in a lengthy statement. “He showed working people that he is willing to go to the mat to create new jobs on a substantial scale. Tonight’s speech should energize the nation to come together, work hard and get serious about jobs.”Trumka also praised Obama’s for rejecting the “pernicious myth” that the only way to address Wall Street’s economic crisis is to punish workers who perform “critical public services” and curtail their benefits and collective bargaining rights. The president of the nation’s largest union said he expects to see more proposals from the President in the coming weeks to put America back to work and pressed Republicans in Congress to stop blocking spending bills and pushing a deregulation-and-tax-cuts-only agenda.
“Republicans are going to have to stop blocking bills that sustain or create millions of jobs and start offering credible solutions,” he said. “We don’t have time to waste on the same old failed policies of deregulation and lower taxes that drove our economy off the cliff in the first place. All our elected leaders will be judged by whether they act with integrity and energy to create good jobs now.”
Most recently, Trumka had kind words for Obama when he spoke to a pro-union Labor Day rally Monday before Obama appeared, but in previous weeks, the debt deal and the super committee solution seemed to be rubbing him raw.
Trumka told Democrats in late August to be prepared to walk away from a bad deficit deal even if the consequence is a far-reaching penalty that would likely cost a huge number of jobs.
“They shouldn’t agree to anything that’s a bad deal,” Trumka said at the time. He warned Democrats against voting for any Super Committee plan that cuts Social Security and lets wealthy Americans off the hook by not raising their taxes.
In late July, Trumka issued a pointed statement expressing alarm about the deficit-reduction set forth in the much ballyhooed bipartisan ‘Gang of Six’ proposal, despite Obama’s very public embrace of the plan. Despite all the talk of tough choices and shared sacrifice and taking on sacred cows during difficult economic times, Trumka says the Gang of Six proposal appeared to balance the budget on the backs of middle-class workers and the poor.
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