August 19th, 2009
12:22 PM ET
5 years ago

Incoming AFL-CIO pres again draws the line on a public option

AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka has issued a statement about health care reform and the public health insurance option.
AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka has issued a statement about health care reform and the public health insurance option.

WASHINGTON (CNN) – Just a few days after warning Democratic lawmakers that failure to support a public option might cost them union support, AFL-CIO Secretary Treasurer and incoming President Richard Trumka released a statement repeating the threat and promising to keep the heat on Congress and the Obama administration to support a government-run insurance option in the final version of the health care bill.

"We will be looking at every one of their votes and whether they are holding to their campaign promises," said Trumka Wednesday. "If they are against the public option and other key issues to working families such as the Employee Free Choice Act it is going to be tough for them to get support from working people."

Undecided Democratic members of Congress have faced ads and grassroots pressure from both the left and right this summer. Much of the liberal pressure has come from the Health Care for America Now coalition, which includes the AFL-CIO, and Organizing for America, President Obama's campaign arm at the Democratic National Committee.

Earlier this week, former Democratic National Committee Chair Howard Dean said Democratic members of Congress who opposed a public option could expect primary challenges next year.

(Full statement after the jump)

STATEMENT BY AFL-CIO SECRETARY TREASURER RICHARD TRUMKA ON PUBLIC HEALTH INSURANCE OPTION IN HEALTH CARE REFORM

A quality public health insurance option is a crucial part of health care reform to keep private insurance companies honest, hold down costs and ensure that everybody has a health care choice available. Key to holding down costs for families, for businesses, and for the federal budget is forcing insurance companies to compete. And the only way to force real competition on the insurance companies is a strong public plan option.

Unfortunately, the usual suspects opposed to reform are trying to hijack the reform process and attacking the public health insurance plan option because they are afraid of competition and they want to keep gouging working families. But unless we take decisive steps to stop the crippling rise of health costs, we will have squandered this moment of opportunity.

We will continue to relay that message forcefully to Congress and the White House.

We will be looking at every one of their votes and whether they are holding to their campaign promises. If they are against the public option and other key issues to working families such as the Employee Free Choice Act it is going to be tough for them to get support from working people.


Filed under: AFL-CIO • Health care
soundoff (131 Responses)
  1. Tom Kaye

    And the republican party has become enslaved to the right-wing radio talk hosts.

    At least the unions don't call people Nazis, Racists, tote guns to political rallies, and draw pictures of Republicans making them look like Hitler!

    August 19, 2009 01:26 pm at 1:26 pm |
  2. joe smith

    now, it is thugs like this, who are able to exert political pressure on our elected officials for their gain, their egomania that has put this country where it is today..I'm surprised this goon isn't over in China trying to recruit the next herd of sheep for their ugly purposes..

    August 19, 2009 01:26 pm at 1:26 pm |
  3. Gerald

    "If you are young and not a liberal, you have no heart. If you are old and not a conservative, you have no brain."
    –Winston Churchill

    "The difference between a liberal and a conservative is 20 years."
    –Mark Twain

    August 19, 2009 01:28 pm at 1:28 pm |
  4. Richie

    We need single payer. Only the fact that the health insurance companies are bribing Congress prevents it from consideration. I cannot fathom anyone being against single payer. The existing health insurance companies can revamp to offer expensive addon care for those rich folks that need plastic surgery at age 90. Employers can pay taxes approximately the same as what they currently pay out for health insurance. That is how to pay for it. Everyone wins. Poor folks get basic care. Rich folks buy a cadillac plan and eschew the government.

    August 19, 2009 01:28 pm at 1:28 pm |
  5. Anthony

    about time chairman Dean put his foot down on the collective throat of his party, it seems like this one might have to be done kicking and screaming. Congratulations Mr. Dean, more power to you!

    August 19, 2009 01:28 pm at 1:28 pm |
  6. inofritzn

    The unions threatening????/ NOOOOOOOO way. ID 10 Ts

    August 19, 2009 01:30 pm at 1:30 pm |
  7. Cromwell

    I agree with the Unions.
    A Healthcare Bill without a Public Option would be merely cosmetic.

    Labor Unions have been a core base of the Democratic Party for 75 years. The Dems would be foolish to turn their back on the Unions.

    August 19, 2009 01:33 pm at 1:33 pm |
  8. kapinatlanta

    Here's the deal whether or not people want to accept it. There will be healthcare reform. Everyone will have coverage, be it the policy you currently have, government backed, co-op, public option or whatever else President Obama wants. It will pass and be signed before the year is out. Do not think for one minute the president is going to let this fail. This is only a "dog and pony show" for those who need to vent. You can holler, shout, bring guns, carry signs, compare him to Hitler, and any other deplorable human being whoever walkedt his earth. HE WILL GET WHAT HE WANTS AND THE WAY HE WANTS IT. CASE CLOSED! Barack Obama is not the man to trifle with. He is only doing what he said he would do and that is to keep open dialect and reach across the isle to those "hood wearing" republicans and quasi democratic republican wanna be's the "blue dogs". Get a grip people, this to shall pass!

    August 19, 2009 01:37 pm at 1:37 pm |
  9. Rick from Murfreesboro, TN

    It is not just the unions who want health care reform, all of us who can't afford health care and who do not have a union to protect us want it too. There are millions of us out here and our voices were heard during last year's elections. If there is no public option there is no health care reform. There will just be rich Republicans getting richer with kickbacks from the health insurance industry, they will be getting richer at the expense of all Americans who are without insurance. They are the true Death Panels!

    August 19, 2009 01:37 pm at 1:37 pm |
  10. Proud Member..Party of No

    A good rule of thumb: if the unions support it, it's a bad deal for the rest of us.

    August 19, 2009 01:40 pm at 1:40 pm |
  11. Bluebonnet

    Sad day when the unions start dictating what governs this country and its people. Obama didn't think about "sleeping with the devil" when he greadily took the union money. Now see where he's gotten us! The unions, especially the union bosses, are so mafia, money greedy, they are one big fat reason this country is in this mess!

    August 19, 2009 01:42 pm at 1:42 pm |
  12. Bedtime for Obonzo

    And where does the AFL-CIO intend to go if it won't support Democrats? Nowhere.

    August 19, 2009 01:42 pm at 1:42 pm |
  13. Four and The Door

    I guess that after bankrupting the auto industry the unions feel their only job left is to try and bankrupt the US Treasury? These union leaders don't know anything except how to try and throw their weight around and try to make it look like they are making progress. We don't need their brand of progress.

    August 19, 2009 01:42 pm at 1:42 pm |
  14. Ren from Baltimore

    Labor unions just about did in the nation's auto industry. If they want to seek redemption now by supporting the rest of us, those who need and want a public option to cut insurance companies' hold on our futures, then I will listen.

    August 19, 2009 01:43 pm at 1:43 pm |
  15. nea

    I want People to know this President cannot and will not please everbody not even me and i dont want him to be a puppet President. So people need to stop threatening to not vote for him in the next election, G.W. Bush got 2 terms and people new what he stood for. If you dont want to vote for him in the next election then dont his true supporters we are not going to cry so vote Republicans, Independent or whatever. By the way if its GOD will he will get re-elected. SO THANK YOU PRESIDENT OBAMA FOR BEING MY PRESIDENT EVEN WHWN YOU DONT PLEASE ME ALL THE TIME!

    August 19, 2009 01:43 pm at 1:43 pm |
  16. Dennis

    Just what we need more extortion from labor unions. They think thye own Obama, and they probably do.

    August 19, 2009 01:45 pm at 1:45 pm |
  17. bozo the obama

    if the unions are for it, i'm against it. don't go back to the union goon days.

    August 19, 2009 01:46 pm at 1:46 pm |
  18. Tedra

    Of course the loser unions are going support this communist crap. They are already robbing and stealing from their members so what's surprising about this??

    August 19, 2009 01:47 pm at 1:47 pm |
  19. NJ

    Every other country in the western industrialized world has public healthcare. We are the only ones who don't, and we've been trying to get something done to fix it since Harry S. Truman was President, nearly 60 years ago. The other nations we call alliles would laugh at the notion that they change over to our system.

    It's as if we are in this room with, say, two dozen other people, and we are all doing the same job. The other 23 people are ALL perfectly successful at doing the job. We, on the other hand, are failing in many areas. The others say to us; "well you need to do it like us." To which we respond; "oh no! That won't work, we know that! I'm going to keep doing it my way, because that's the only way it works!"

    August 19, 2009 01:50 pm at 1:50 pm |
  20. Enough

    Unions – The same ones that bankrupted GM!! Time for Unions to go away, they do nothing but hurt business and pad their own pockets.

    August 19, 2009 01:50 pm at 1:50 pm |
  21. Glennis

    Earth to windbag Trumpka: Shut up.

    August 19, 2009 01:52 pm at 1:52 pm |
  22. Hugo

    Union support, you know that same kind of Union support that you see from SERIBUS and ACORN, and lest we forget the JFK election win that Old Joe Kennedy the bootlegger that bought and paid for with the Teamsters Union! Government controlled or run anything is a BAD idea, we are in this mess because they did not perform their duties in the first place! Regulate lawyers and insurance companies, not physicians and the American people. We are BROKE, we owe trillions of dollars, we are still in a war that we must fund, wake up Dumbocrats!

    August 19, 2009 01:55 pm at 1:55 pm |
  23. Dave in Illinois

    So the unions have to get their payoff to support Obama and health care reform. Good thing they aren't special interest group lobbyists because everybody knows they can't be trusted.

    August 19, 2009 01:55 pm at 1:55 pm |
  24. RealityKing

    Thats what they get for bailout the AFL-CIO with taxpayers money. Too bad dems don't learn from their mistakes..

    August 19, 2009 01:55 pm at 1:55 pm |
  25. Simon/Orlando

    The unions have done such a great job of running the auto makers into the ground. Let's give them a chance at screwing up health care.

    August 19, 2009 01:57 pm at 1:57 pm |
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