We should support labor's view on tax cut deal

On December 7, 2010 AFL-CIO President Rich Trumka, several days before Vermont Senator Sander's passionate filibuster, blasted the Administration's "tax cut deal" with the Republican Leadership. In an Official Press Release from the AFL-CIO Trumka said, "The tax cut deal rewards Republican obstructionism…. The gains for the middle class and jobless workers in the deal come at too high a price." Senator Sanders, in his filibuster, publicized some of the giveaway's to Corporate America in the deal and my union, the IAM, on it's "ucubed" website for the unemployed, called on members to support Senator Sander's showing clearly it's solidarity with President Trumka"s views on the "tax cut deal."

Although President Trumka's statement was little publicized, his independence comes from deep roots. Not only does Trumka come from a family of Coal Miner's on both sides, one of the most militant sectors of the working class, he rose through the ranks of the miners union beginning as a rank and file miner. He helped to lead  the militant and progressive "miners for democracy" in it"s struggle against the corrupt and autocratic Tony Boyle leadership of the UMWA. After Boyle engineered the murder of his "miner for democracy" opponent, Jock Yablonsky and Jock's wife and daughter, Rich Trumka and the other rank and file activist's continued the struggle eventually defeating Boyle. They amended the UMWA constitution and Boyle  went to prison  but when the "miners for democracy" candidate, Miller, strayed from the rank and file democratic principles Trumka ran against Miller, defeating him and going on to lead the UMWA for three straight terms. Trumka is proud of his roots as an insurgent and fighter  and led his Union to victory in the most militant strike struggle in decades against the Pittston company. He then co-led the insurgency in the AFL-CIO that dethroned the cold war bureaucrat Lane Kirkland from the top job and swept the AFL-CIO with a "fresh wind." Trumka openly and directly confronted racism in the labor movement in the 2008 campaign playing a major role in winning white workers to vote for President Obama. Trumka is truly one of the best major labor leaders in U.S. history. He is certainly the best in my lifetime, and I listen  to him.

We know where Trumka is coming from, but where does the "tax cut deal" come from? I do not know President Obama"s personal views on economics but in the Institutional Presidency different political forces fight for power in the class struggle inside the cabinet. Did Labor Secretary Solis have decisive say in the tax cut deal or did outgoing Wall Street insider, Larry Summers, the economic advisor, have more say? After carefully looking I'd bet that it was the same Larry Summers  whose economic policies and message has been destroying working class support for the President. Study Summers actions and statements and he is in virtual lock step with the Tycoons of Wall Street who drove us into this crisis and thru action and inaction have kept unemployment so high. Larry Summers is leaving, good riddance, at this point his policies will be continued, bad luck for us.     

Can we support President Obama in the struggle against the ultra right and still take part in the class struggle inside the institutional presidency over policy? Richard Trumka says we can and we must. I agree with Trumka.

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  • I really appreciate the author's tribute to the new and increasing political independence of the afl-cio. But, within the limits of capitalism, which unfortunately are still our limits, the tax-cut deal was probably as good a deal as the working class could have gotten from President Obama at this time.

    Even though Trumpka may be the best afl-cio leader ever, and I would argue that he is, he's still primarily a spokesperson for the organizer sector, and that's not the same as the entire working class.

    The tax-cut deal has several awful aspects. The freezing of federal employees' wages is an even worse indicator of how little the working class can expect from today's capitalists. Nevertheless, that's part of the terrain upon which the class struggle takes place today.

    Posted by jim lane, 12/22/2010 11:06am (8 years ago)

  • I do not agree. My friends on unemployment need the extension. Now. i assume Phil has a job. Otherwise I doubt he would be so sanguine in his "feet firmly planted in mid-air" principles.

    But -- enough. Its time to move on and consider the campaign against war and austerity -- going forward. Rather engage in the bourgeois fetish of "eating our young" -- so popular for decades on the US left.


    Posted by John Case, 12/17/2010 8:48am (8 years ago)

  • With all the hubbub about the estate tax, one thing is clear. Because it had expired this year, without the President's tax framework it would be zero percent right now.

    Posted by Troy101, 12/17/2010 7:26am (8 years ago)

  • You're right about the need to stand our ground on this issue, and it's good to see the AFL-CIO taking the right stance, too. Hope they don't cave.

    I don't think there's much conflict at all inside the "institutional presidency". Obama is a neoliberal, and so are virtually his entire inner circle. Nothing suggests that that's going to change.

    Posted by Trailer Trash, 12/16/2010 9:11pm (8 years ago)

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