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U.S. President Barack Obama (L) stands behind AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka before he speaks at the AFL-CIO Executive Council meeting at the Washington Convention Center in Washington, August 4, 2010.  REUTERS/Larry Downing (UNITED STATES - Tags: POLIT
Over the past year, the AFL-CIO has repeatedly said that its efforts to influence the course of the nation wouldn't end with electing Democrats, and that after the elections, it would remain geared up to fight for good policy. Since the election, the labor federation has made clear that preventing cuts to Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid are at the top of the list of things to fight for. President Barack Obama's to cut Social Security benefits through the chained CPI poses an obvious challenge to the AFL-CIO, then: A fight for the good and popular policy is a fight against the president unions just fought to elect.

AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka is clear that chained CPI is bad policy. But in an interview with the Huffington Post, he was a lot less clear what his federation and its member unions would do about that:

"I want to see more of the details. But we oppose the cuts," Trumka said. "We'll oppose the cuts. We will be talking to them about a number of things. Obviously I want to look at the whole deal before we make any decision." [...]

"Start off with the notion that a cut is a cut," he said. "So while you may be protecting some segments from the cut, there is still a lot of people who are going to get cut to pay for the difference between people making between $250,000 and $400,000. And we oppose those cuts because workers weren't part of the problem. We didn't cause the problem. But now we are supposed to always be part of the solution. ... We think that's a bad deal."

A bad deal, but not one Trumka is willing to say he'll flatly oppose. How bad would a deal have to be for unions to fight to blow it up? Given that Obama's concession on chained CPI already flies in the face of both good policy and the public's desire to protect Social Security and he offered it anyway, would he care if the AFL-CIO opposed his bad deal?

This is a disappointing stance from Trumka—it's like he's taking a page out of Obama's negotiating book. Even if there's a chance you'd accept something bad as part of a final deal, you don't gain strength by admitting it ahead of time.

Tell President Obama to take Social Security cuts off the table.

12:54 PM PT: Describing currently discussed deals as "hypothetical," an AFL-CIO spokesman affirms that "We will not support any cuts to benefits that working people have earned."

1:05 PM PT: And Trumka himself weighs in:

Tweet from AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka saying "Appreciate your comments & passion - let me be clear: we are opposed to ANY cuts to Social Security, Medicare or Medicaid"

Originally posted to Daily Kos Labor on Thu Dec 20, 2012 at 10:53 AM PST.

Also republished by In Support of Labor and Unions and Daily Kos.

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