Fiscal cliff? What fiscal cliff?
The head of one of Washington's largest advocacy groups, the AFL-CIO, seems to be wondering that, judging by a speech he is set to give today at the National Mediation Board Conference.
AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka recasts the debate over the fiscal crisis, shifting focus from the budget deficit to the number of unemployed workers—and calling the so-called fiscal cliff part of a "manufactured crisis."
"The most frustrating thing about Washington, DC, is the way political insiders create a self-reinforcing reality out of nonsense. Take what the media are calling the 'fiscal cliff.' There is no fiscal cliff! What we’re facing is an obstacle course within a manufactured crisis that was hastily thrown together in response to inflated rhetoric about our federal deficit," Trumka will say, according to prepared remarks shared with the Alley.
Trumka adds, though, that the deficit is still a long-term problem, just not the short-term crisis some argue it is.
"But all the deficit chatter has distracted us from our real crisis—the immediate crisis of 23 million unemployed or underemployed workers," Trumka will, according to the speech text.
Trumka's speech is his first since meeting with President Obama at the White House on Tuesday, when he and other progressive leaders staked out their positions on taxes and entitlement benefits. His comments also dovetail with a post-election union push to persuade lawmakers to preserve entitlement benefits while raising taxes on the wealthy.
"It’s time to protect social security benefits. It’s time to protect Medicare and Medicaid benefits. And it’s time to raise taxes for the richest 2%, to stop tax breaks that encourage companies to send jobs offshore and to close loopholes that allow some people and corporations to hide income in offshore tax havens," Trumka will say, according to the text.