A Conversation with AFL-CIO President, Richard TrumkaPrintable Version
Wednesday, May 9, 2012
Economic security and job creation have become the dominant legislative issues in the wake of the recession. CNP President, Scott Bates and AFL-CIO President, Richard Trumka, discussed the opportunities and challenges facing the American workforce in the 21st century. Scott Bates introduced the discussion by stating that, "it has become clear that America’s long term ability to protect our interests, to project our values, and to chart our own course in the world has been undermined by our current economic situation."
Revitalizing an Unbalanced Economy
President Trumka urged us to recognize the link between a strong American manufacturing sector and our national security imperatives. Indeed, both the U.S. decline in manufacturing over the last 30 years and expanding trade deficits pose a serious threat our national security goals:
First is the direct loss of jobs, purchasing power and tax base. The second threat is our diminished capacity to meet our own national defense manufacturing needs, especially in times of crisis. The third threat is the vulnerability of our economy to supply chain disruptions arising far from our shores.For President Trumka, American vulnerabilities are interconnected problems rather than isolated gaps. One solution to redressing these problems is to recapture some of the market share ceded to other industrial nations and promote a rule-based trading system that levels the playing field. The manipulation of currency markets is one example of how policies undermining our economic security feed into national security concerns as well. Additionally, reforming tax structures that incentivize off shoring and financial speculation would help reverse negative workforce trends.
President Trumka stressed that the revitalization of our industrial base must be the central economic tenet to rebalancing trade and protecting the American economy. Target goals would be for the U.S. to add four million manufacturing jobs while balancing the trade deficit in the next 5 years (ultimately bringing manufacturing back to a baseline of 18 percent of our GDP). President Trumka also proposed, "setting a forward looking trade strategy, both in terms of a new generation of bilateral deals and reformed multilateral rules."