Trumka praises Obama address’s focus on inequality, job creation

The following is crossposted from AFL-CIO Now:


WASHINGTON. D.C. (Jan. 25) — President Barack Obama’s State of the Union address Tuesday night made clear that he hears the people who aren’t being heard by the 1 percent, says AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka. Obama’s speech showed he “listened to the single mom working two jobs to get by, to the out-of-work construction worker, to the retired factory worker, to the student serving coffee to help pay for college.”

By laying out a vision of an America that can create jobs and prosperity for all instead of wealth for the few, Trumka said the president “voiced the aspirations and concerns of those who are too often ignored.”

Obama also made clear that the era of the 1 percent getting rich by looting the economy, rather than creating jobs, is over.

“Now it’s time for Congress to stop standing in the way of rebuilding our country and act,”  Trumka said.

President Obama presented Congress a choice, Trumka said, between Obama’s vision of the need to invest to achieve stable, long-term prosperity for all and the vision of presidential candidates squabbling over how much further to cut the taxes of the 1 percent.

Obama “spoke to the confidence of working people that if we are determined and committed, we can revitalize ‘Made in the USA.’ That commitment to American manufacturing, made possible in part by enhanced enforcement of trade laws being violated by China , is welcome news to the too many productive, hard working Americans sitting idle unnecessarily.”

Trumka praised the President’s powerful insistance “on a more humble Wall Street subject to a thorough investigation of the misconduct in the mortgage  markets that wrecked our economy,” and applauded the creation of a new mortgage  crisis unit to be co-chaired by New York’s Attorney General, Eric Schneiderman.

Obama also sent a message of hope to America’s young people, “with his words of support for DREAM students, immigrants brought to this country by their parents and committed to the quintessentially American vision of hard work at school or in military service,” Trumka said.

The bottom line, of course, is job creation. The nation is still short 10 million jobs deficit from losses in 2008 and 2009. The addition of 200,000 jobs in December was strong and welcome growth, but the Economic Policy Institute (EPI) points out that even at that rate, the United States will not return to full employment until 2019.

Since Labor Day, Obama has been speaking out forcefully against the same staggering increase in inequality that inspired the Occupy Wall Street movement. His State of the Union speech demonstrates a focus on job creation Republican House and
Senate leaders should follow.

Yet the Republican leadership is so out of touch it chose Indiana’s Gov. Mitch Daniels to give the party’s response to the State of the Union address, a move Trumka says represents:

the sad decline of the national Republican party and its growing fixation with the voices of CEOs instead of every day Americans.

Daniels, once a supporter of the right of working people to come together to bargain in one voice, has now become a loud, angry opponent pushing to take away that right.

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