The man expected to become the AFL-CIO’s next president said yesterday that lawmakers would pay a political price if they abandon a government-run option in any health care overhaul.
“We need to be a labor movement that stands by our friends, punishes its enemies and challenges those who, well, can’t seem to decide which side they’re on,’’ said Richard Trumka, currently the AFL-CIO’s secretary-treasurer.
In remarks to the Center for American Progress, a liberal think tank, Trumka singled out lawmakers “who say they are all for health care reform, but refuse to stand up for a public system that puts people before profits.’’
Trumka’s remarks came in a broader speech that outlined his goals for making labor unions more appealing to younger workers and stemming the historic decline of union rolls.
Labor unions have been among the most vocal boosters of President Obama’s health care overhaul. But Trumka and other labor leaders have expressed frustration with signs that Obama and other lawmakers are wavering in their support of a public option that would cover millions who don’t have health insurance.
“I think they need to understand that that you can have a bill that guarantees quality, affordable health care for every American, or you can have a bill the Republicans will vote for,’’ he said. “But you can’t have both.’’
The warning is consistent with comments that Trumka has made in several recent public appearances. Union support for Democrats is often taken for granted, but Trumka has said the nation’s largest labor federation would do more to hold elected officials accountable if they do not back labor’s causes.
Trumka is poised to become the AFL-CIO’s president in mid-September at the organization’s quadrennial convention in Pittsburgh. White House press secretary Robert Gibbs said yesterday that Obama plans to speak at the convention on Sept. 15.
The ads are aimed mostly at lawmakers who seem undecided. Chamber officials said the campaign would total about the same as the first round of commercials, which began airing about three weeks ago and cost about $7 million.
The ads accuse Democratic leaders of trying to rush the bill through Congress because it would force higher taxes and deeper budget deficits. “The fast sale on government-run health care? No way,’’ an announcer says.
That’s just a sample of Bo’s first few months as First Dog of the United States.
Most of his dog days begin with early morning walks on the grounds with Michelle Obama, and end with a nighttime jaunt with President Obama, the couple juggling their four-legged family member in shifts the way Michelle Obama says they once handled daughters Malia and Sasha.
In between, 10-month-old Bo has playtime with the two girls, meals, puppy mischief - and lots of just lying around.
In just four-plus months, the Portuguese Water Dog has become one of the most popular dogs around.
He won a Teen Choice Award for celebrity pet, besting Adam Sandler’s bulldog Matzo Ball and Ashton Kutcher’s Chihuahua Vida Blue, among other candidates. Obama introduced him as the “star of the family’’ at a luau on the South Lawn.
Obama says walks with Bo are a highlight of his pressure-packed days. The president even gets sentimental about the less pleasant duties of dog ownership.
“I’m the guy with the night shift,’’ he told one television interviewer. “We go out and we’re walking and I’m picking up poop and in the background is the beautifully lit White House. It’s quite a moment.’’