- The Washington Times - Wednesday, August 4, 2010


Trying to reclaim some of the excitement among unions who helped him win election in 2008, President Obama on Wednesday implored members of the AFL-CIO to be patient with the pace of the recovery and warned them they and the economy would suffer far worse under Republican rule.
“I’m sure you’re talking to a lot of your locals, I’m sure they’re feeling like, ‘Boy, change has not happened fast enough,’ ” he said. “I am happy as president of the United States to take responsibility for making decisions that are going to put us in a stronger position down the road. They need to know that.”

Labor is a key Democratic voting bloc, and one that Democrats will need to turn out in November if they hope to stem major losses in both houses of Congress. Mr. Obama’s remarks, made before the federation’s executive council, come one day after AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka told workers he knows they’re frustrated but said electing Democrats is key to advancing their agenda.

Mr. Obama touted his legislative record, including the $862 billion stimulus bill, the health-care overhaul and the rewrite of financial regulatory rules as evidence of the progress his administration has made.

As he has done increasingly in recent weeks, the president painted November as a choice between his policies and those of the Bush administration — which, he argued, favored big business over workers.

“I am here to tell you we are not giving up and we are not giving in,” Mr. Obama said, adding that he will keep fighting for an economy that works for everyone and “not just a privileged few.”

The AFL-CIO is expected to spend $50 million over the next three months to help Democrats in the congressional and gubernatorial races.

Mr. Obama drew sustained applause when he said he still hopes to pass the Employee Free Choice Act, a measure that would make it easier for unions to organize. The controversial bill has remained stalled, even in the Democratic-controlled Congress.


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