WASHINGTON -- Digging in for the looming battle over deficit-reduction, AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka will make organized labor's case Thursday against cuts to Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid, declaring the doomsday debt talk in Washington a "manufactured crisis."
"There is no fiscal cliff," Trumka says in prepared remarks to the National Mediation Board Conference in Washington on Thursday. "What we’re facing is an obstacle course within a manufactured crisis that was hastily thrown together in response to inflated rhetoric about our federal deficit."
Democrats and Republicans are headed to the bargaining table to address the so-called fiscal cliff that Trumka alludes to -- the point after the New Year when painful automatic cuts hit the federal budget, unless legislators can find other ways to reduce the $16 trillion debt. Negotiations last year indicated that Democrats are open to cutting social programs that liberals have long considered sacrosanct, as well as trimming programs that aid the poor and elderly.
President Barack Obama met with labor leaders, including Trumka, on Tuesday, assuring them he was committed to letting the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy expire. But organized labor is just as concerned about social insurance programs. The failed "grand bargain" nearly struck by Obama and House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) last year reportedly included cuts to Medicare and Social Security.
Trumka told HuffPost last week that the AFL-CIO, a federation of unions representing 11 million workers, will not support any deal including such cuts. "The voters yesterday rejected that notion soundly," he said the morning after the election. "The answer is, if it includes benefit cuts to Social Security, Medicare, or Medicaid, we'll oppose it."
Trumka served as a reliable Obama booster throughout the 2012 campaign, attacking Romney as a "vulture capitalist" while championing the president and other Democrats, including Sen.-elect Elizabeth Warren (Mass.), as allies of working-class people.
But the AFL-CIO has said it's building a permanent political structure to hold progressive legislators accountable post-election, while large unions like the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees and the Service Employees International Union are launching campaigns aimed at preserving Medicare and Social Security. The labor coalition may see its political mettle tested soon when Democratic lawmakers open the door to trimming social insurance programs.
In his speech Thursday, Trumka declares that it's "time to protect" those very programs while raising taxes for the "richest 2 percent."
"What should working people, jobless people and retirees pay to lower those tax rates for the rich? Should we give up the promise of health care and retirement security that Medicare and Medicaid represent? How about Social Security’s promise? Should that be sacrificed so 'fair taxation' can remain unspeakable? Not on your life."
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Prosecution For Financial Fraud Hit A 20-Year Low During The Obama Administration
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Income Inequality Is Worse Under Obama Than Under Bush
The rich took home a <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/04/11/income-inequality-obama-bush_n_1419008.html" target="_hplink">greater share of America's income pie</a> from 2009 to 2010 than they did between 2002 and 2007, according to an April analysis from Emmanuel Saez, a professor at the University of California, Berkeley. That means the gap between the rich and the poor was more pronounced under Obama's presidency than under George W. Bush's.
Obama Wants To Lower The Corporate Tax Rate
Some of America's most profitable companies used a variety of loopholes to pay <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/11/03/major-corporations-tax-subsidies_n_1073548.html" target="_hplink">less than zero in taxes</a> between 2008 and 2010, according to a November 2011 report by the Citizens for Tax Justice. But the Obama administration wants to make it even easier for corporations to have a smaller tax bill; Obama proposed a tax overhaul that would <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/02/22/barack-obama-proposing-to_n_1292939.html" target="_hplink">cut the corporate tax rate</a> from 35 percent to 28 percent.
Health Care Reform Won't Make Health Care Cheaper For Most Americans
Once the health care law takes effect, insurance companies will be footing the bill for millions of previously uninsured Americans and for those who were denied coverage for pre-existing conditions. And health insurance companies will <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/04/20/health-care-costs-rise_n_1440584.html" target="_hplink">likely pass on to consumers the cost</a> of insuring the new patients. After Massachusetts enacted a similar health care plan in 2006, premiums for an individual plan in the state <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/06/28/health-insurance-ruling-supreme-court-costs_n_1634555.html" target="_hplink">rose 18 percent</a> over three years.
Obama's Housing Programs Have Largely Been A Failure
In 2009, Obama announced the Home Affordable Mortgage Program, promising to help 3 to 4 million borrowers, but as of January -- more than three years into the program -- HAMP had <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/01/27/hamp-loan-modification-expands_n_1237169.html" target="_hplink">only reached 1 million borrowers</a>. In an aim to give the program legs, administration <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/01/27/hamp-loan-modification-expands_n_1237169.html" target="_hplink">officials changed the rules</a> in January to make more borrowers eligible. Still, the fixes were likely too little too late, experts said at the time.
Homeowners Haven't Seen Much Out Of That Huge Mortgage Deal
The Obama Administration touted the $25 billion mortgage deal it reached with 49 states and the big banks to settle allegations that banks mishandled mortgages. As part of the settlement, banks said they would <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/06/12/national-mortgage-settlement-_n_1589499.html" target="_hplink">offer at least $10 billion</a> in loan forgiveness to homeowners. But months after the deal was inked, <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/08/29/debt-relief-mortgage-settlement_n_1839923.html" target="_hplink">banks have been slow</a> to hand out the money.
Democrats Have Received Lots Of Campaign Cash From Bain Employees
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Goldman And Other Wall St. Firms Have Largely Escaped Punishment For Their Role In The Financial Crisis
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The Revolving Door Is Alive And Well In Obama Administration
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Too Big To Fail Banks Have Grown Under Obama
At the end of 2011, five big banks, including Bank of America and JPMorgan Chase, held <a href="http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2012-04-16/obama-bid-to-end-too-big-to-fail-undercut-as-banks-grow.html" target="_hplink">56 percent of the U.S. economy</a>, according to Bloomberg, compared to 43 percent five years earlier. That's right, the too-big-to-fail banks have actually gotten bigger.
The U.S. Has Gained A Lot Of Low-Wage Jobs During The Recovery
Welcome to the U.S. of Low-Wage America. Most of the jobs lost during the recession paid middle wages, while most of those <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/08/31/low-wage-jobs_n_1846733.html" target="_hplink">gained during the recovery were low-wage jobs</a>, according to a recent study from the National Employment Law Project.
Incomes Declined More During The Recovery Than The Recession
Median <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2011/10/10/us/recession-officially-over-us-incomes-kept-falling.html" target="_hplink">household income fell 6.7 percent</a> between June 2009, when the recession technically ended, and June 2011, according to a Census Bureau study cited by <em>The New York Times</em>. That's more than the 3.2 percent incomes fell during the recession, between 2007 and 2009.
Payroll Tax Cut May Expire On Obama's Watch
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Many Top Obama Donors Are Employees Of Major Corporations
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