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Averting the Manufactured Crisis

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Richard Trumka Photo: Robin Holland

I am hopeful. There is no need for this budget mess to be a nightmare scenario. A good outcome is possible, but only if working people stand up and make themselves heard. Our members are asking Congress to focus on two items that are very doable. First, let the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy expire. Second, use the savings from tax cuts for the wealthy to cancel the across-the-board budget cuts scheduled for January. Then we can turn our attention to the urgent problems of putting America back to work and raising wages.

We just had an election where Gov. Romney ran on an agenda of cutting tax rates for rich people and cutting benefits for Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid. He lost. Even many Romney voters say they oppose cutting benefits. Working people are not going to put up with ramming this losing agenda through Congress under the pretext of reducing the deficit. And we will not allow Republicans in Congress to hold tax cuts for the middle class hostage to their obsession with cutting taxes for the rich. Once this becomes clear, then we can have a productive and healthy discussion. There is no debt crisis that requires us to make bad decisions, and there is absolutely no need for a $4 trillion Grand Bargain. In fact, there is no way to concoct a deal that large without including a whole bunch of terrible ideas that harm the middle class and could never survive on their own in the light of day.

Richard L. Trumka was elected president of the AFL-CIO in 2009 at the federation’s 26th Constitutional Convention in Pittsburgh. His election followed 14 years of service as secretary-treasurer of the AFL-CIO, and built on his roots in the small coal mining communities of southwest Pennsylvania. At the time of his election, Trumka was serving his third term as president of the United Mine Workers of America (UMWA). On November 13, Trumka and other labor leaders met with President Obama to discuss the fiscal cliff. Watch a “Moyers Moment” with Richard Trumka on what he considers our “real economy.”

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