Statement by AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka
On President Obama’s Jobs Speech
September 8, 2011
The President took an important and necessary step tonight: he started a serious national conversation about how to solve our jobs crisis. He showed working people that he is willing to go to the mat to create new jobs on a substantial scale. Tonight’s speech should energize the nation to come together, work hard and get serious about jobs.
As the President explained, we can no longer delay putting Americans back to work and rebuilding our nation’s schools, roads, bridges, transit, ports, rail, communications and energy systems. And we need to help state and local governments avoid layoffs that are dragging down the economy—rejecting the pernicious myth that the only way to address Wall Street’s crisis is to punish firefighters, teachers and others who perform critical public services.
We call on Congress to act and look forward to working with the President and Congress on all elements of this proposal.
The plan announced by the President is only the opening bid. We expect to see more proposals in the next weeks and months to put America back to work. President Obama understands that this economic crisis was not created overnight, and it will not be solved overnight. The middle class has been under attack for decades. He understands that we need to rebuild our economy for the 21st century and rebuild our middle class. But doing this will require a revolution in the way Washington takes on these questions. Republicans are going to have to stop blocking bills that sustain or create millions of jobs and start offering credible solutions. We don’t have time to waste on the same old failed policies of deregulation and lower taxes that drove our economy off the cliff in the first place. All our elected leaders will be judged by whether they act with integrity and energy to create good jobs now.
Politicians need to recognize that America’s best days are still before us. We will not accept the disappearance of the American middle class or several more years of crisis-level joblessness. We can and must solve the jobs crisis and we must start now. Our country is too good and too rich to weaken our commitment to safety net protections such as Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, and Unemployment Insurance.