We're living off the investments that our parents and grandparents made in this country. We've gone in the last four years from being in the top five infrastructure in the world to 16 and we're falling. [...]
For years and years and years infrastructure was an issue that Democrats, Republicans, Independents, everybody came together and said this needs to be done, let's join together and do it.
Unlike some joint AFL-CIO-Chamber appearances, this one allowed for some airing of the two organizations' differences on how to rebuild infrastructure and create jobs. Donohue referred to differences in how they would approach "the game that's going on over there trying to pass President Obama's tax issue one piece at a time," but the most extensively aired disagreement was over Buy America provisions, with Donohue saying, "We would disagree in the issue of the Buy America component. When we did it in the stimulus, we had to give 170,000 exemptions while we were trying to build roads and bridges."
Trumka responded, "I was sort of tickled by Tom, though, when he said he disagrees with us about not wanting to do Buy America stuff. He'd rather stimulate someone else's economy rather than our economy." Donohue argued, "What we want to do in Buy America is build more things in America, but to set up opposition to us selling things abroad and people selling things here—it costs jobs, it doesn't create jobs."
Typically for a seven-minute television segment, they didn't delve very far into the details (PDF) of the disagreement, though.
Trumka's final comments broadened from the specifics of Buy America to a more general take on the interplay between politics and economy, saying:
The other countries that we deal with, they have a plan and a strategy. They have a plan for manufacturing, they have a plan to build things. We don't have that strategy in the United States and the reason we don't, is that place up there [the Capitol] gets flooded with lobbyists from multinational corporations whose interests are beginning to diverge more and more from the interests of this country. When we can realign those interests, then I think we all start to win and we put America back to work.
Despite the Chamber's continuing push for infrastructure investment, I maintain my skepticism that it will put in the needed political muscle or that Republican politicians will be willing to do even Chamber-approved things to improve the economy if improving the economy helps President Obama's chances for reelection.