LaborTalk for August 8, 2011

After His Okay of $1.5 trillion in Spending Cuts,
Where Will Obama Get Funds for Job Creation?
What's Happened to Trumka's Pledge of Labor Independence?

By Harry Kelber

After approving legislation that would cut government spending by more than $1 trillion without getting a provision to raise revenue through tax increases on the wealthy, where will Obama find the money that is required to create jobs for millions of workers?

Furthermore, will the Republican-controlled House permit any costly job-creating projects to get Congress approval? Despite these obstacles and several others, President Obama announced that he would be focusing on job-creation.

On the morning of Aug. 2, the day that the government's debt ceiling was raised, Obama met with the AFL-CIO General Board and the Executive Council behind closed doors to discuss the 2012 elections. It was clear, during the one-hour meeting, that Obama wanted labor's financial and volunteer support, but what could he offer in return? His answer was that he would focus on job creation as a top priority issue for the balance of his four-year term.

Ever since February 2009, when Congress passed the $787 billion stimulus package, Obama has paid little attention to the problem of unemployment, even though the jobless rate has hovered around 9 percent and some 14 million people were officially listed as unemployed.

The president and his top economic advisers were convinced that the economic recovery would stimulate businesses, large and small, to rehire huge numbers of workers, just like after past recessions. So for two years, the White House acted on the principle that no further stimulus was necessary and that, it might even be harmful to economic recovery.

In the past six months, while the president was negotiating with John Boehner, the Republican Speaker of the House, about how many trillions of dollars in spending cuts they could agree on, the President had nothing to say about the plight of the unemployed.

With both Republicans and Democrats gearing up for the 2012 elections and everyone agreeing that the jobs problem would be a key issue with the voters, Obama announced he would now focus on creating jobs. The White House refused to provide any details about the meeting or respond to reporters' questions, but the AFL-CIO issued a statement.

AFL-CIO spokesperson Alison Omens said the meeting was about fixing the nation's economic issues and job creation, but she didn't provide specifics. "This morning's meeting with the general board of the AFL-CIO was a conversation about the urgent need to focus on job-creating policies that will propel working people and our economy forward."

That response won't satisfy workers who have lost their homes and their jobs, especially the millions who have been unable to find work for many months. There is growing anger and frustration at both Democratic politicians and top union leaders at their failure to initiate actions that could command the attention of Congress.

AFL-CIO Will Mobilize to Defend Entitlements

Labor's ordeal is far from over. The biggest attacks against Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security will get under way when the newly-created 12-member congressional "super committee" starts to fulfill its mission of budget deficit reduction, operating under "fast track" conditions that will be hard to stop.

The AFL-CIO members and their allies will engage in an "America Wants to Work" mobilization to move the national debate from the right-wing's manufactured debit crisis to the nation's real crisis, it was decided at a three-day meeting of the Federation's executive committee.

The mobilization will be launched on Labor Day, building to a National Week of Action in early October that focuses on the demand for good jobs with demonstrations in communities all across the country that "America Wants to Work."

The mobilization will focus on jobs that give voice to the jobless including unemployed veterans, students who cannot find meaningful work as they enter the labor force and communities of color that have been especially hard hit by the recession and the refusal of corporate America to invest in job creation.

* * * * *

The AFL-CIO must convince its members that it has a practical plan to win jobs for millions of unemployed workers. To date, there is no evidence that AFL-CIO's leaders have such a plan.

Will "America Wants to Work", which sounds like begging, be more successful than the militant "Make Wall Street Pay"?

Instead of these sham, unproductive "campaigns", why won't the AFL-CIO make a serious effort to organize the unorganized?

LaborTalk will be posted here on August 12, 2011 and on our two web sites and on

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