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Trumka: “President Obama is Showing Leadership”


October 7, 2011

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AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka is in demand nowadays as the unemployment crisis continues and presidential politics heats up. Appearing at media and think-tank-sponsored events before and after President Obama’s Sept. 12 introduction of the American Jobs Act, Trumka has sought to spread a wider understanding of the labor movement’s goals in bringing about economic recovery.

The good news is that the Obama administration appears to be listening.

On August 25, Trumka appeared at a breakfast sponsored by the Christian Science Monitor newspaper. While saying that his job creation programs weren’t big enough, Trumka praised President Obama for some of his efforts to stimulate the economy.

But Trumka said that President Obama made a “strategic mistake” when he “would talk about job creation and in the same sentence talk about deficit reduction…People got the two confused.” Trumka says:

What I said [to Obama]…[is] if you only propose what you think [Republicans] will accept, they control the agenda.  I urged him to propose what was necessary to solve the problem…if he..falls into nibbling around the edge [of the problem], I think history will judge him and I think working people will judge him.

On Sept. 12, President Obama introduced the American Jobs Act to Congress. The $447 billion proposal includes funding for rebuilding U.S. infrastructure, school modernization and other major job-creation efforts. The White House has released a state-by-state breakdown of the bill’s projects.

On Sept. 30, Trumka appeared at the Brookings Institution to answer questions about the effect of the current recession on workers. The entire event was covered on C-Span.

A story in The Hill on Trumka’s remarks at the Brookings Institution event said:

I think he [Obama] stands in a lot better position than he did three weeks ago…I think going out to city after city, laying down the gauntlet, saying ‘We need jobs. Jobs is the most important crisis right now, and if you don’t pass them, shame on you, Senate, shame on you House, for not doing that…I think he’s starting to lead and I think because of that, he’s in better position with our members.