WASHINGTON -- The largest union federation in the country has been in talks with both Democrats in Congress and members of the administration to push them to hold a vote that would only extend the Bush tax cuts for the middle class and not those for the rich.
AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka said on Tuesday that his group has been "working diligently with lawmakers and the White House" about its legislative preference for the expiring tax rates. Though he wouldn't elaborate on the substance of those discussions, Trumka explained that "to date, no one that I'm aware of said that's not a good strategy, that's not good policy, and that's not good for the country."
In recent days, the union federation has led the charge to hold a solitary vote during the lame duck session of Congress, one that would extend the current tax rates for those making less than $250,000-a-year while allowing the others to revert to pre-Bush levels.
The logic has been simple. Democrats still control both chambers of Congress as well as the White House. It's in their hands to determine what bill is considered. But the strategy is not without risk. After December 31, all the current rates will revert to pre-Bush levels and Republicans have shown a willingness to allow that to happen if extensions (whether permanent or temporary) aren't passed for the wealthy as well. Asked on Tuesday's call whether he too would be willing to hold the entire tax cut debate hostage in order to insist that only the middle-class cuts be extended, Trumka didn't rule it out.
"I'm always willing to fight for good policy, remember the health care fight, we were out front fighting for what we thought was good policy. So the answer is, I believe that is the best solution and the best policy, so we will fight for it," he said. "Am I'm willing to take all the consequences that are attached to fighting for good policy."
"It is still TARP two," Trumka said of extending the rates for the wealthy. "As I said early, it is absolutely insane in these tough economic times that some people want to continue the George Bush tax giveaway to millionaires. Working people are losing their jobs, their benefits and their homes and they are the ones who need help. We ought to be focusing on job creation by giving tax breaks to the middle-class families that are going to take the money and actually spend it, not to millionaires who don't need it and won't spend it... Millionaires on Wall Street already had their party. That tanked our economy and it left Main Street stuck with paying the bill... this is not the time to be giving more welfare to millionaires."