Statement by AFL-CIO President Richard L. Trumka On President Barack Obama’s State of the Union Address

Washington, DC–(ENEWSPF)–January 24, 2012. 

Leaders are judged not just by what they say but to whom they listen. President Obama’s speech tonight shows that he has listened to the single mom working two jobs to get by, to the out-of-work construction worker, to the retired factory worker, to the student serving coffee to help pay for college.  

By laying out a vision of an America that can create jobs and prosperity for all instead of wealth for the few, the President voiced the aspirations and concerns of those who are too often ignored.   

And tonight he made clear that the era of the 1% getting rich by looting the economy, rather than creating jobs, is over—what a contrast to the vision presented by presidential candidates squabbling over how much further to cut the taxes of the 1%.  

Recognizing the need for accountability the President powerfully insisted on a more humble Wall Street subject to a thorough investigation of the misconduct in the mortgage markets that wrecked our economy by the full range of federal and state civil and criminal authorities. We applaud the creation of a new mortgage crisis unit to be co-chaired by New York’s Attorney General, Eric Schneiderman.  

President Obama spoke to the confidence of working people that if we are determined and committed, we can revitalize “Made in the USA.” That commitment to American manufacturing, made possible in part by enhanced enforcement of trade laws being violated by too many of our trade partners. Trade on a fair playing field is welcome news to the too many productive, hard working Americans sitting idle unnecessarily. 

The President also gave hope to our nation’s young people with his words of support for DREAM students, immigrants brought to this country by their parents and committed to the quintessentially American vision of hard work at school or in military service.

Now it’s time for Congress to stop standing in the way of rebuilding our country and act.  For too long, Congress has stood in the way of economic recovery—now, we need Congress to act swiftly and on the massive scale our crisis of joblessness demands. 

The clarity of the contrast between the record and rhetoric of President Obama and Indiana’s Governor Mitch Daniels, who is giving the GOP response tonight, represents all too well the sad decline of the national Republican party. Daniels flip-flop into supporting “right to work for less” is a prime example of a party increasingly fixated with accommodating the voices of CEOs instead of every day Americans.