The AFL-CIO Executive Council today called on Congress to repeal—not replace—the economically destructive budget cuts that Republicans in Congress are using as leverage to demand Social Security, Medicaid and Medicare benefit cuts. If the sequester is to be replaced, in whole or in part, the council called for closing tax loopholes for Wall Street and the wealthiest 2%, which would minimize harm to the economy.
In its statement, No More Manufactured Crises—Disarm the Hostage Takers, the council said:
The solution is to disarm the hostage takers so they no longer can hold the economy hostage to get their way. Disarming the hostage takers means repealing “sequestration”—not replacing it. Across-the-board cuts would increase unemployment and harm the economy, but so would replacement cuts of the same size.
There is no economic need to replace “sequestration” or meet any arbitrary deficit reduction target. Further fiscal austerity before the United States returns to full employment only would weaken the economy and cost jobs. If the “sequester” is to be replaced, it should be replaced in a way that minimizes drag on the economy—which is by raising additional revenues from the wealthiest households and corporations. Since January 2011, 70 percent of deficit reduction has been through discretionary spending cuts, which is an important reason why the recovery has been so sluggish. Under no circumstances should the “sequester” be replaced by furloughs for federal employees, who already have sacrificed $103 billion to reduce the deficit.
The Executive Council statement also called on Congress once again to reject Republican ransom demands to cut Social Security, Medicaid and Medicare benefits, which would only encourage more hostage taking.
“[G]iving in to the ransom demands of the hostage takers—and giving them political cover—will not put an end to these manufactured crises. On the contrary, it will only encourage more hostage taking. The only solution is to disarm the hostage takers and allow the American people to decide for themselves—without bullying or threats or coercion or backroom deals—whether they want to cut Social Security, Medicaid and Medicare benefits to pay for tax breaks for Wall Street and the wealthiest 2% of Americans.
The statement argues that only by standing up to the hostage takers and taking away their leverage can we “focus on the urgent challenge of fixing the economy, raising wages, investing in our people and putting America back to work.”
Read the rest of the statement here.
See all the adopted statements from the February 2013 meeting here.