Labor leaders: GOP holding workers as hostages

The Republican Party, and especially its right wing, is holding workers and the economy “hostage” to their demands for continuing and permanent tax cuts for the wealthiest 2 percent of the U.S. population, the AFL-CIO Executive Council says.

In an Aug. 1 statement during the group’s meeting in D.C., the fed said the hostage-taking began after the 2010 elections.  Separately, the AFL-CIO and doens of other groups the fed pledged to fight for tax fairness and against the cuts for the rich.

The statement came as the GOP-run House, by an almost party-line vote, passed a bill to extend the Bush tax cuts for the rich for another year, along with some tax cuts for the middle class.  It had rejected the Democratic alternative, which extended only cuts for individuals making $200,000 and families earning $250,000 or less yearly.

“Republicans are holding the middle class hostage to their demands on behalf of the richest 2%,” the fed’s statement said.  “There can be no excuse for giving in to their demands to extend tax cuts for the 2%, cut Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid benefits, tax workers’ health benefits or sacrifice middle-class jobs. 

“The labor movement is therefore grateful to” Democratic President Barack Obama “and Senate Democrats for making clear the Bush tax cuts for the top 2% — families that make five times the median family income — must end.”  The Democratic-run Senate had rejected the GOP tax plan a week before.

“The Republican position is that if the richest 2% cannot get their tax breaks, then middle-class Americans should get nothing,” the leaders said.  That’s “indefensible.”

While the fed did not explicitly advocate letting all the tax cuts expire at the end of this year, as they are scheduled to do, it noted they were supposed to be temporary.  And letting them die would help sharply cut the federal budget deficit, and give the U.S. more fiscal stability, the statement added.

It also warned against further Republican blackmail, though it did not use that word, and noted the GOP policies led the economy to crash in the first place.

“It is true that Republicans have the power to cause a recession by blocking extension of middle-class tax cuts, blocking extension of federal unemployment benefits, refusing to replace the payroll tax cut with the Make Work Pay tax credit, shutting down the federal government and manufacturing a political crisis by refusing to raise the debt ceiling.  But the power of congressional Republicans to inflict damage on the U.S. economy and the middle class can hardly justify yielding to every demand of the 2 percent, because there is no limit to those demands,” the leaders stated.

Photo: Glyn Lowe Photoworks // CC 2.0


Mark Gruenberg
Mark Gruenberg

Award-winning journalist Mark Gruenberg is head of the Washington, D.C., bureau of People's World. He is also the editor of the union news service Press Associates Inc. (PAI). Known for his reporting skills, sharp wit, and voluminous knowledge of history, Mark is a compassionate interviewer but tough when going after big corporations and their billionaire owners.