Richard Trumka Reminds Us Of What Republican Obstruction Has Done To The Economy

CNN's Candy Crowley sat down with the AFL-CIO's Richard Trumka and the National Small Business Association President Todd McCracken to discuss jobs and the economy. Trumka reminded the viewers just who put the economy into the ditch in the first
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CNN's Candy Crowley sat down with the AFL-CIO's Richard Trumka and the National Small Business Association President Todd McCracken to discuss jobs and the economy. Trumka reminded the viewers just who put the economy into the ditch in the first place, that everyone knew the stimulus bill was too small but it was all that could get passed due to the Republican obstruction in the Senate and that there are 400 bills sitting on the doorstep of the Senate that also have not been passed because of Republican obstruction. Most have not even been allowed to come up for a vote. As Trumka notes much of what's in those bills would be helping our economy now.

Republicans seem determined to take this country into a ditch if it means them winning the mid-term elections. They'd be less likely to be rewarded for it if we had a few more like Trumka on the television not allowing our media to give them a pass for their behavior and having Republicans come on the air day after day and claim that the stimulus failed completely and we just need more tax cuts to revive the economy without being challenged.

CROWLEY: Mr. Trumka, tell us what the president has done right, first of all, in trying to deal with this economy. And where do you think he's gone wrong?

TRUMKA: Well, first of all, he did the stimulus package. You know, let's remember what he inherited. He inherited a banking industry or an economy that that was about to fall off the end of the cliff. He inherited a recession.

So he's brought us back. He's brought sanity back to the financial system here. He has brought the economy back somewhat. He's created more jobs in this recession than George Bush did in eight years as president with a surplus. So he's done that.

CROWLEY: But 62,000 jobs last month is not enough.

TRUMKA: Oh, of course it's not enough.

CROWLEY: Right.

TRUMKA: We need between 400,000 and 500,000 jobs a month.

CROWLEY: So you think the stimulus package was a good idea and you think it saved us from going off the cliff?

TRUMKA: I do. It was too small at the time, and everybody knew it was too small, but it was all they could get passed because of Republican opposition.

CROWLEY: And so, first, what makes you think you can get anything passed the Republican opposition at this point, especially since the country has gotten more and more concerned about the deficit? But -- but, secondly, to my first question is, what has he done wrong, do you think?

TRUMKA: Well, the first thing that was done wrong in the stimulus package was, when we did infrastructure, it only addressed short-term infrastructure projects, so that we couldn't get a project that would take three or four years to complete and create a lot of jobs. They were all smaller jobs.

It should have been geared toward longer stuff. More of the money should have been structured towards infrastructure and helping state and local governments, because what we see right now is, the extraordinary spending of the federal government is being negated by the contracting of the state and local government...

CROWLEY: Sure.

TRUMKA: ... and that's why we're seeing the -- the...

CROWLEY: Yes, where they're going to still look at more teachers and firefighters, policemen, and that's part of the AFL-CIO, that are getting laid off now because those state budgets have to be balanced.

TRUMKA: But if we hadn't given them aid, we could have lost 900,000 teachers, firefighters and police. That's not good for the country. That's not good for our children. That's not good for our future.

CROWLEY: Mr. McCracken, what has the president from your point of view done right and what has he done wrong?

MCCRACKEN: He really has focused on the lending stuff for small companies, and I think that's a really productive thing. He seems sort of -- sort of gets the need to really -- to inject credit capital in small companies and how it's really the lifeblood of what they do.

And what he's done wrong, I think, is not really focus on that nearly early enough. I mean, we're talking about a small-business lending fund now in September into the end of a recession. This should have been on the table a year-and-a-half ago, and things like this should have been on the table a year-and-a-half ago.

And now they're also talking about a payroll tax holiday of some substance. We were talking about that also a year-and-a-half ago. We think something like that should have been in the first stimulus package, and things would have been -- we would have been in better shape than we are right now.

TRUMKA: You know, Todd, in all fairness to the president, the House of Representatives has passed 400 bills that are sitting at the doorstep of the Senate. And because of the obstructionism of the Republicans right now, they haven't been able to be passed. Much of what you've talked about are in those 400 bills that Democrats and the president advocated.

CROWLEY: But he was advocating -- I mean, he was -- had his hands full and was advocating something larger and some other things. Let me ask you something, because I had two men in here who were heads of very large companies who said the president just has this anti- business tone, businesses are worried about like what's coming next, there's this uncertainty. Do you think that the president has an anti-business tone?

MCCRACKEN: I -- I think it can be perceived that way, because the -- a lot of things that have come out of -- of Washington in the last year-and-a-half do inject a degree of uncertainty into the economy. And that does hurt job growth, because you have to realize that for a company adding another job or adding (inaudible) is a long- term decision. It's not something they do lightly.

And they have to look into the future and know what's -- what they think is coming and whether they're going to be able to sustain this. And -- and the financial reform, the -- the -- the health care reform, and now all the uncertainty over what tax policy is going to be over the next few years does sort of add to that general unease. And there's no getting around that.

CROWLEY: And keeps jobs from coming, because I don't want to hire, because we don't really know what's going to go on. But let me move you on to...

TRUMKA: But wait, wait, wait. All of those were absolutely essential, and it's unfair to say that the president is anti-business. This president has done more and given more to tax cuts to business than -- than anybody before.

CROWLEY: He did say -- he saw how it could be perceived that way.

TRUMKA: Well, and, you know, he has -- we had no choice but to rein in Wall Street. We had no choice but to rein in health care costs. We have no choice but to look at a tax code that now rewards people for taking jobs offshore and trying to reverse that.

All of these things have come about because of the bad policies of the last 30 years, and this president is trying to correct them.

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