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Trumka: Austerity Only Weakens the Economy

Trumka: Austerity Only Weakens the Economy

Calling sequestration “just a fancy word for a dumb idea,” AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka says the 750,000 job-killing, across-the-board budget cuts and other moves toward fiscal austerity will “further weaken the economy and cost jobs” and make even worse “the crisis of mass unemployment. Millions of Americans who want to work cannot find jobs.”

Writing in a special report in The Hill on jobs and the economy, Trumka says:

On some days, it seems like all of official Washington is racing to embrace the most destructive consensus since the Iraq war. 

He also points out that the calls for fiscal austerity are aimed mostly at working families and don’t “extend to asking corporations and the richest 1% to share in the sacrifice.”

If we were really talking about things we can’t afford, at the top of that list would be tax breaks for corporations that ship jobs overseas, tax breaks for hedge fund managers, more tax breaks for corporations that hide their profits outside the country and continuing tax cuts for the top 2 percent. Just closing one destructive loophole—tax cuts for corporations that ship jobs overseas—would be enough to replace almost half of the jobs-destroying sequester. 

The nation is on a path to a “low road economy,” but says Trumka, “[w]e can turn this around.”

That means investing in our nation, not calling for brutal cuts to vital programs. That means raising the minimum wage, not allowing employers to lowball U.S. workers. That means reforming our immigration system, not creating a second class of workers without rights to achieve the American dream. That means allowing workers to join together and bargain for better lives, not continuing a generation of wage stagnation.

Putting America back to work doesn’t take genius, says Trumka, “[it] takes courage.”

The courage to repeal sequester and to protect our social insurance system, the courage to put rebuilding the middle class ahead of keeping Washington insiders and Wall Street moguls happy, the courage to lead. 

Read his full column

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