AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka and other national leaders of unions and progressive groups actively involved in discussions over fiscal priorities met with President Obama Tuesday morning at the White House. Trumka and the group urged Obama to not give more tax cuts to those making more than $250,000 and to not cut Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid benefits. The group also pledged to support the president in fighting for a good deal for the country, even if that means negotiating into the new year. Afterward, Trumka told reporters:
We are very, very committed to making sure that the middle class and workers don't end up paying the tab for a party that we didn't get to go to and the president is committed to that as well.
He also said the union movement will remain mobilized throughout this lame-duck session of Congress as lawmakers deal with ending the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy and the calls by some—including a well-funded group of corporate CEOs called Fix the Debt—for cuts in Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid benefits to pay for preserving tax cuts for the wealthy and increased corporate tax breaks as part of a so-called “grand bargain” on the deficit.
We’re prepared to stand up to make sure there is shared sacrifice here so the rich actually start paying their fair share and the middle class doesn't get soaked for that.
The Associated Press reported that during Tuesday's meeting:
Participants said the president reiterated his contention that the wealthy should pay more in taxes and that his views were vindicated by the election. They said the president showed no willingness to extend the Bush-era tax cuts for the wealthy. "He's standing firm on taxes, on the issue of raising taxes on the wealthiest Americans," said Neera Tanden, president of the Center for American Progress.
Last week, a group of 146 union and progressive groups sent Obama a letter outlining five key areas that must be included in any budget agreement:
- Creating jobs and growing the economy.…[including] steps to spur private investment and to create targeted investments in infrastructure and education that will grow the economy and create quality jobs.
- No cuts to Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security benefits or shifting costs to beneficiaries or the states. Millions of seniors, children, people with disabilities and others depend on these vital programs and they must not be cut.
- No cuts to the safety net and vital services for low-income people. We should not allow the fiscal burden to be shifted to poor and working families who have already borne a disproportionate share of the nation’s economic pain in recent years.
- Stopping the sequester. We share the concerns of economists, small business owners, state and local governments and the millions of individuals we represent, that sequestration will harm our fragile recovery, will result in a substantial loss of jobs in both the public and private sectors and will make harmful cuts in vital services needed to promote health, development and economic security for people and communities nationwide that have already sustained $1.5 trillion in deficit reduction losses.
- Requiring the wealthiest and corporations to pay their fair share, starting with ending tax cuts for the wealthiest 2 percent.…While a wide range of programs have been cut in recent years, the very wealthy and corporations have so far not been required to contribute a penny in additional revenues toward deficit reduction. Securing substantial new revenue from those with the greatest ability to contribute will allow us to meet deficit reduction goals, chart a more sustainable fiscal path forward, invest in the job creation measures our economy needs and protect the programs and services that families depend upon.