President Obama reminded an audience of labor union officials Monday that he has always fought for their interests and emphasized this point by attacking the GOP and right-to-work states.
“I made a promise I’d always tell you where I stood, I’d always tell you what I thought, what I believed in, and most importantly, I’d wake up every single day working as hard as I know how — to make your lives a little better,” the president said at the AFL-CIO’s Building and Construction Trades Department Legislative Conference [try fitting all of that on a business card].
And it makes sense that President Obama would take the time to out of his busy not-campaign schedule to remind union leaders that he’s on their side. After all, his 2008 presidential campaign relied heavily on the union’s “get out the vote” efforts and financial backing; he’ll need all their help he can get in 2012.
“And for all that we’ve gone through over the last three-and-a-half, four years, I have kept that promise,” he continued. “And I’m still thinking about you, and I still believe in you. And if you join me, we’ll remind the world why it is that America is the greatest nation on Earth,” President Obama added.
However, the president’s remarks quickly turned from high-minded musings on America’s greatness to sharp criticisms of Republicans for “obstructing his agenda,” as Susan Crabtree of the Washington Times puts it.
“Republicans in Congress would rather put fewer of you to work rebuilding America than ask millionaires and billionaires to live without massive new tax cuts,” President Obama said.
Republicans, Miss Crabtree writes, aren’t “willing to shift their priorities from protecting the wealthy from more tax hikes to making investments that will benefit average working Americans.”
Simply put, if it weren’t for those stubborn Republicans in Congress blocking his attempts to increase infrastructure spending, the country would already be on the road to recovery, or so says the president.
“If we’re smart about it, we can also afford to make the investments that will help our country and the American people in the short-term,” he said. “I think that’s a no-brainer. But apparently, Republicans disagree.”
See highlights of the president’s address via the Associated Press:
However, what’s left out of the AP video highlights is the part where the president criticizes states for offering right-to-work laws.
“I believe when folks try and take collective bargaining rights away by passing so-called ‘right to work’ laws that might also be called ‘right to work for less,’ laws, that’s not about economics, that’s about politics,” the president said.
“That’s about politics,” he repeated.
Watch the president’s attacks on right-to-work legislation at the 17:44 mark (via whitehouse.gov):
And that’s pretty much the thrust of the president’s entire address: Republicans are in the way, right-to-work laws aren’t fair, and unions give everyone a “fair shot.”
As a few pundits have already noted, it’s speeches like this that really emphasize just how much the president’s tone has changed since his days in the U.S. Senate. You know, the days when he used to talk like this: “The American people are ready for some hope, instead of fear! They’re ready for unity, instead of division! People want to be brought together! They’re tired of being driven apart!”
Apparently, the GOP and the 23 states with right-to-work laws aren’t included in the president’s 2007 vision of a “unified” America.
(h/t Washington Free Beacon)