Prepping for midterms, Trumka hammers Republicans

AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka said Wednesday that Republican candidates would move America backwards if they won control of Congress in the 2010 midterm elections. 

Speaking at the Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco Workers and Grain Millers Union convention in Las Vegas, Trumka pulled no punches against the GOP. 

He framed the upcoming elections as a choice between the two parties, instead of a referendum on President Obama’s policies. For example, Democrats have supported extensions of unemployment benefits, while Republicans want to extend tax cuts for the wealthy, according to Trumka. 

“They’ll want to give us Speaker Boehner — a Speaker of the House of Representatives who compared the financial crisis to an ant. A chairman of the House Energy Committee who apologized to BP. A chairman of their Congressional Campaign Committee who actually said he wants to go back to the Bush policies. And a tea-partying Senatorial candidate from this state who wants to abolish Social Security, Medicare and the Department of Education,” Trumka said in prepared remarks. 

For the economic crisis facing the United States, the union leader said the White House’s prior occupants left the country in disrepair and that Obama should not receive blame. 

“Well, with this economy, the Obama administration and our friends in Congress are the clean-up crew. And President Bush and his crowd in Congress are the ones who made the mess,” Trumka said. “Don’t ever forget it. And remember in November.”

Also, Trumka warned that union members should not become disillusioned for this upcoming election. The labor movement has often been disappointed by the Obama administration and the Democratic-controlled Congress. Some big union priorities, such as a government-run health insurance option or legislation to ease union organizing, have not come to pass during the party’s control of Washington. 

“They just want you to sit this election out. They figure that if they can mobilize the rightwing radicals, the corporate conservatives, the Tea Party fanatics and the talk show fans, and if they can anesthetize the rest of us, then they can win this election in a walk,” Trumka said. “It’s up to us to mobilize the working Americans who have the most to lose from going backwards and the most to gain from moving forwards.”