Statement by AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka on FY 2014 Budget Proposal

Richard Trumka (April 10, 2013) A president’s budget is more than just numbers.  It is a profoundly moral document.  We believe cutting Social Security benefits and shifting costs to Medicare beneficiaries – while exempting corporate America from shared sacrifice – is wrong and indefensible.

The administration’s budget cuts cost-of-living increases for current and future Social Security beneficiaries by $130 billion over 10 years, and much more in future years.  It shifts $64 billion in health care costs to Medicare beneficiaries over 10 years.  Yet despite closing some loopholes, it calls for corporate income tax reform that is “revenue neutral” – meaning it fails to ask big, profitable corporations to pay their fair share of taxes.

The Obama budget also continues to demand more sacrifice from federal employees than from Wall Street.  Federal employees did not cause the Great Recession.  They did not cause the deficits that resulted from the Great Recession.  Yet their pay and their retirement keeps getting cut.  Why?

Putting aside the injustice of demanding sacrifice from the innocent while letting the guilty off scot free, the Obama budget falls short of putting our economy on a path towards higher wages and full employment.  As we have said many times, the greatest economic challenge facing America is the jobs crisis, not the deficit.  Yet the administration cuts the part of the budget that pays for investments in worker training and jobs, which has already been cut to its lowest level since the Eisenhower administration, by another $100 billion. This austerity budget is bad economic policy at a moment when the economy remains weak and we urgently need more job-creating investments.

The President’s budget does include several proposals worthy of praise.  It aims to provide universal access to pre-kindergarten programs that are so important to our children.  It strengthens programs to protect workers against wage theft, unsafe workplaces and employer retaliation. It closes the outrageous loophole that allows Wall Street financial managers to pay a special lower tax rate.  And it reforms some of the tax loopholes that allow corporations to get away with shifting profits overseas to avoid U.S. taxes.

Last November, working Americans voted for jobs and growth, not for budget austerity and benefit cuts.  We urge the President to drop these cuts and build support for investing in jobs.

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One Response

  1. Okay, President Trumka, cutting Social Security and Medicare is “wrong and indefensible.” It is good to hear you say that, but everybody in the labor movement knows that already. The real question is this: What is the House of Labor going to do about it? Issuing statements is not enough. We need to flex some muscle, here and now.

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