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Richard Trumka
Richard Trumka (AFL-CIO)
Continuing their "strange bedfellows" alliance over infrastructure investments, the AFL-CIO's Richard Trumka and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce's Tom Donohue appeared together on ABC's This Week.

Trumka opened:

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.

Originally posted to Daily Kos Labor on Mon Oct 24, 2011 at 07:30 AM PDT.

Also republished by ClassWarfare Newsletter: WallStreet VS Working Class Global Occupy movement and Daily Kos.

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Comment Preferences

  •  at this point (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Gordon20024, Tinfoil Hat

    strange bedfellows are all that is left to the American Economy.  

    Businesses will continue to fail if worldwide austerity is the rule.   And only the super rich sitting on bundles of cash win.   A lousy ten percent, that is the difference in wealth that marks the good years of American middle class growth, increasing wages and benefits and today's wage serfdom.   Revival of purchasing power on a tiny scale, sufficient money for most to pay those taxes they are accused on not paying, paying for social benefit plans, and maybe even a little savings instead of rising debt for decades.   Ten percent the rich can't give up if it means America functions.  Good roads, bridges, electrical grid, r&d to bring new products and new jobs along.  So simple, everybody else does it that isn't a third world dictatorship run by the likes of Idi Amin.

  •  more Bed Strangefellas than Strange Bedfellows /nt (0+ / 0-)

    I am off my metas! Präsidentenelf-maßschach; Warning-Some Snark Above"Nous sommes un groupuscule" (-9.50; -7.03)

    by annieli on Mon Oct 24, 2011 at 08:24:00 AM PDT

  •  Well-placed skepticism, Laura... (0+ / 0-)

    The Chamber of Commerce will NOT exert any of its considerable influence to help speed up infrastructure spending before the 2012 election.

    Instead, they will use their influence to insure that Republicans gain full full control of Congress.

    After that, Congress will pass will pass an infrastructure bill crafted by the CoC and corporate lobbyists and President, whether it be Obama or somebody else, will be obliged to sign it.

    When Trumka talked about lobbyists who represent interests that diverge from the interests of this country, he was talking about Donohue and the CoC.

  •  Proof that Republicans (0+ / 0-)

    are uniters: they have managed to get both Labour and Capital to cry out for different policies.

    Iuris praecepta sunt haec: Honeste vivere, alterum non laedere, suum cuique tribuere. - Ulpian, Digestae 1, 3

    by Dauphin on Mon Oct 24, 2011 at 08:26:56 AM PDT

  •  Yuk, just yuk. (0+ / 0-)

    I am all for politicians making situation common cause with other politicians they're generally hostile to.  But I can't really see it for advocacy groups, because it dilutes their advocacy.

    But nobody's buying flowers from the flower lady.

    by Rich in PA on Mon Oct 24, 2011 at 08:32:27 AM PDT

    •  No tar sands pipeline and no more gas fracking! (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      wsexson

      Nov 5, 2010
      Director of the documentary "GAS LAND" Josh Fox appeared on Keith Olbermann's MSNBC show Countdown.


      Gasland part 1 of 2

      Brought To You By That Crazed Sociologist/Media Fanatic rebel ga Be The Change You Want To See In The World! Gandhi

      by rebel ga on Tue Oct 25, 2011 at 10:21:35 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Congress needs to pass the Infrastructure Bank (0+ / 0-)

    Nothing is being done, public or private ventures are at a stall. WTF is the strategic plan for the Business Roundtable and is there a role for the US as a nation? The CoC? They act as if their members will thrive in an ever diminishing national economy.  

    While Republicans and lobbyists kneecap gov't action, nothing pubic or private, fills the gap. And Trumka laments.

    Of course countries with governmental control over markets compete at an advantage. So what strategic edge will the US use? Cheap global labor market, exploding foreign consumer markets, and sluggish economic outlooks made the US public a nonplayer, and that a position from which we should be erupting, not complaining.

    I was unimpressed with Trumka's

    lobbyists from multinational corporations whose interests are beginning to diverge more and more from the interests of this country
    He was begging for morsels and Donnely was offering few to none..

    Eliminate the Bush tax cuts Eliminate Afghan and Iraq wars Do these things first before considering any cuts

    by kck on Mon Oct 24, 2011 at 08:33:21 AM PDT

  •  Tactical error by AFL-CIO... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Tinfoil Hat

    When the AFL-CIO and the CoC team up to push some initiative, it creates in the public mind an equivalence between the two organizations.

    Organized labor can never gain the confidence of the American people it it allows itself to be defined as a special-interest lobby shop like the CoC.

    It's time to break off these efforts to make nice with the CoC and recognize them as the intractable enemy that they are.

    •  and the correction... (0+ / 0-)

      ...should be made in a slow and deliberate fashion.

      There have been political advantages for AFL-CIO to work together with CoC on certain initiatives. I don't want to disparage those.

      But as the Buy American issue illustrates perfectly well, the AFL-CIO and the CoC are NOT in agreement on some very fundamental things.

  •  Diversion. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Egalitare

    The Chamber is smarter than the average moderate.

    We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy.... --ML King "Beyond Vietnam"

    by Gooserock on Tue Oct 25, 2011 at 08:02:44 PM PDT

    •  They're also smarter than Richard Trumka (0+ / 0-)

      Who should have been replaced years ago.

      The failure of labor's leadership is a subject we need to have a serious conversation about. I've been reluctant to bring it up, however, because these guys wrap themselves in the victimhood of labor that they helped to create.

      And once someone gets victim status, they are off limits to many people.

      This is unfortunate because labor has been sold out and betrayed by their leadership. The labor structure is completely cronyistic, centralized and corrupt. This is especially true with the international unions.

      I'm going to write about what I know at some point, but probably not here since what I know implicates a lot of Democrats as well. All I'll say now is when you see union leaders making packs with the enemy, chances are, it's because they've been bought off.

      Unions need to be open, democratic, and free of corruption. The days of old boy networks that keep failed leaders in power for so long need to go.

  •  While I share your assessment and skepticism (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    JeffW

    I am more inclined to think that the Chamber expects infrastructure investment to come from virtually anyone excepting their members.  Their members are far too busy creating jobs to be burdened with infrastructure.  In fact, everyone else needs to pay for infrastructure improvements specifically in order to keep the Chamber's job-creators creating all those jobs.  They shouldn't have to bear that burden, too, what with everything else they do for us.

  •  Empty jar of hope (0+ / 0-)

    Nothing will happen, even the Romulan-Human marriage of Labor and Chamber will make no impression in this Congress.

    The past, present, and future are equally compelling; none of the three are easily understood.

    by Grey Panther on Tue Oct 25, 2011 at 08:26:55 PM PDT

  •  trumka's right that the only way we are going (0+ / 0-)

    to jump start this economy is if the government starts spending on infrastructure in the broadest possible domestic policy sense.

    the rich think they'll be safe, but when this country does the third world full monty... their world becomes a little more dangerous.  fuckers don't want to pay for civilisation.  welcome to the thunderdome.

    from clockwork orange:

    Aha. At this stage, gentlemen, we introduce the subject himself. He is, as you will perceive, fit and well nourished. He comes straight from a night's sleep and a good breakfast, undrugged, unhypnotized. Tomorrow we send him with confidence out into the world again, as decent a lad as you would meet on a May morning, inclined to the kindly word and the helpful act. What a change is here, gentlemen, from the wretched hoodlum the State committed to unprofitable punishment some two years ago, unchanged after two years. Unchanged, do I say? Not quite. Prison taught him the false smile, the rubbed hands of hypocrisy, the fawning greased obsequious leer. Other vices it taught him, as well as confirming him in those he had long practiced before. But gentlemen, enough of words. Actions speak louder than. Action now. Observe, all.

    No System of Justice Can Rise Above the Ethics of Those Who Administer It. (Wickersham Commission 1929)

    by No Exit on Tue Oct 25, 2011 at 08:28:37 PM PDT

  •  Tom Donohue made a big plug for Keystone XL (5+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    JeffW, rebel ga, devtob, Egalitare, Matt Z

    pipeline as some sort of crown jewel of infrastructure projects. It turned my stomach.  

    Gasoline made from the tar sands gives a Toyota Prius the same impact on climate as a Hummer using gasoline made from oil. ~ Al Gore

    by Lefty Coaster on Tue Oct 25, 2011 at 08:30:41 PM PDT

  •  A deal with the devil... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    rebel ga

    ...as a retired civil engineer and public employee, I'm dubious.

    Float like a manhole cover, sting like a sash weight! Clean Coal Is A Clinker!

    by JeffW on Tue Oct 25, 2011 at 08:39:11 PM PDT

  •  Chamber has to look like they want investment.... (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    rebel ga, Egalitare

    .....because some of their big members do.

    But, they'd rather get the black guy out of the white house than do anything that may create jobs.

    Ideology is an excuse to ignore common sense.

    by Bush Bites on Tue Oct 25, 2011 at 09:53:30 PM PDT

  •  Stim takes about 6 months to begin to effect, so t (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Egalitare

    hey will definitely pass something... about 5 months before the election.

    Don't trust the assholes.  The Chamber's sell-out to multinational is almost to the point of treason.

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