AFL-CIO president to Lame Duck Congress: Fair Taxes, No Cuts

After a hard-fought and divisive election year, it’s time to rebuild America’s middle class — but to do it we need to make sure the lessons from this campaign stick.

Four years ago, the leadership of the Republican Party made a cynical political gamble — and this year they lost because they bet against America.

Instead of rethinking the failed policies that got us into this mess, the Republicans in Congress tried to drag down the American economy and stall the recovery and then pass the blame to President Obama.

Along the way, they also blamed teachers, firefighters, nurses and, quite frankly, just about anyone and everyone except the real culprit — irresponsible tax cuts for the wealthy and deregulation.

Yet here’s something to remember: It wasn’t until Mitt Romney’s shocking and complete disavowal of everything — everything — he stood for during the Republican primary that he even began to close the gap with President Obama. The more he fabricated, the more he sounded like Obama, the closer to victory he came.

But a majority of working families remembered the real Mitt and turned out to reject him.

That shows how important voter education is, and the labor movement took that on as our top priority. We researched all the candidates and explained their stands on the issues. Across America, more than 400,000 volunteers shared what we learned by knocking on doors, calling from phone banks and by handing out leaflets. It was an incredible grassroots effort, like nothing I’ve seen before on a national scale.

The unprecedented tidal wave of secret corporate cash threatened to dilute and corrupt our democracy, but this election proved again that there is no match for the strength of people power.

I’ve probably said this a thousand times this year: This election came down to a choice between two very different visions for our nation and our middle class. Our vision rewards hard work and the people who do it. Their vision benefits only those at the top.

Our vision — the future America has chosen for the next generation — will lead America toward shared prosperity.

And the bottom line of what working people voted for is this: To rebuild America and the middle class, not tear it down. That’s the lesson we have to turn into action.

Starting today, working families across the country will explain this election’s message over and over again to our leaders in Washington. Working people — union and non-union alike — say NO to cuts to Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid and YES to fair taxes on the wealthiest 2 percent.

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