The country’s largest labor union is warning that conservatives like Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) and Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) could “hijack” the mantle of populism from progressives in the grim economic climate.
“There is a danger of populism being hijacked by the right,” AFL-CIO political director Michael Podhorzer told reporters during a group interview on Wednesday.
“The sort of hidden election among working class voters is populism, and over the last several elections it’s been driven by the success of either right-wing populism — which it was in 2010, and the attacks on Obama and Obamacare and big government and all of that that energized the right in a populist way. And in 2012, when you had a very clear contrast between Obama and a one-percenter like Romney. And you had a very comfortable win for progressive populism,” he said.
Paul and Ryan have both floated reforms to domestic programs which they argue would mitigate poverty, in an effort to improve their own images and the GOP’s brand when it comes to caring for the less fortunate.
Podhorzer tore into the two lawmakers, saying “their rhetoric belies their records” and “their records are ones that have devastated working people.”
(Pictured above: AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka, via Associated Press)