By a vote of 60 to 36, the Senate passed a bill today to extend the payroll tax cut and unemployment insurance benefits.

The vote came less than an hour after House, by a vote of 293 to 132, passed the same bill.

The Administration is praising the action and observers are noting that it marks a victory for the president who has made extension of the payroll tax cut for 160 million Americans and extension of unemployment benefits a key part of his plan for 2012.

The AFL-CIO announced just before noon on the East Coast, however, that it could not support  the compromise bill that Congress approved today,

“The conference report for H.R. 3630 would reduce the number of weeks of unemployment benefits for unemployed workers and gratuitously penalize federal employees,” the federation said in the special statement it sent to Congress as lawmakers were getting ready to vote on the extensions.

The compromises the federation objects to include cuts to pensions for federal workers, reductions in the period of time workers can collect unemployment benefits and cuts to Medicare and the American Health Care Act’s provisions for preventive services, all of which the federation describes as “unacceptable offsets.”

“Any offset to this package will reduce its effectiveness in stimulating economic growth and creating jobs,” the federation said in its letter. “For this reason federal extended benefits have not been offset.”

The AFL-CIO statement reiterated the position many of its member unions that the rich need to pay the costs of the extensions.

“If there has to be an offset in this bill, it should be a surtax on incomes over $1 million. Republicans in Congress have insisted on protecting millionaires at the expense of jobless workers and middle income working class Americans.,” the statement read.

The AFL-CIO’s statement condemned what it said was a continued attempt to blame unemployed workers and federal employees “for problems they did not cause. Meanwhile, the people who did cause the crash of 2008, from which our economy is still slowly recovering, have largely gotten off scot free.

“Shared sacrifice should start at the top, with a surtax on millionaires, not with unemployed workers or middle class working families who provide vital services tot the federal government.

“For all these reasons,” the federation statement ended, “the AFL-CIO cannot support H.R. 3630.”


John Wojcik
John Wojcik

John Wojcik is Editor-in-Chief of People's World. He joined the staff as Labor Editor in May 2007 after working as a union meat cutter in northern New Jersey. There, he served as a shop steward and a member of a UFCW contract negotiating committee. In the 1970s and '80s, he was a political action reporter for the Daily World, this newspaper's predecessor, and was active in electoral politics in Brooklyn, New York.