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Statement by AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka On Republican Hostage Taking

As of today, it is clear that the Republican Party and the Tea Party have become one and the same when it comes to federal fiscal policy. House Republicans have decided that they will shut down critical public services, stiff public servants, hold America’s credit rating hostage and kill off jobs because they are upset that President Obama decisively defeated Mitt Romney last November. That some Republicans are participating in this fiasco against their better judgment does not obscure their responsibility. All responsible voices must speak and act against policy making by hostage taking.

It’s bad enough that Republicans’ intellectually dishonest austerity policies have starved the United States of the public investment necessary for shared prosperity in the future. Sequester was and remains a complicated name for a disastrous policy. But somehow Republicans have managed to go from pushing irresponsible policies to something even worse.

Shutting down the government would weaken demand, reduce employment and roil markets. Punishing federal workers and taxpayers to prove a point is a temper tantrum worthy of a four year old, not a policy choice of a responsible political party.

We stand with President Obama as he rejects unequivocally all Republican hostage taking. And we agree with the President that it would be a disastrous precedent for our democracy if we have any negotiations over the debt ceiling. 

This is the moment for working people to bring pressure on behalf of a shared, popular and responsible agenda.  Repeal the job-killing sequester. Reject any cuts to Social Security, Medicare or Medicaid benefits.  Protect food aid for the poor.  And create jobs and raise hundreds of billions of dollars to invest in our future by ending all tax subsidies for outsourcing.

Contact: Jeff Hauser (202) 637-5018

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