August 4th, 2010
12:24 PM ET
12 years ago

Obama rallies unions, rips GOP

[cnn-photo-caption image= caption =" President Obama ripped GOP principles Wednesday in a speech in front of AFL-CIO leaders."]Washington (CNN) - President Barack Obama sought to rally the Democratic Party's union base Wednesday, telling a meeting of AFL-CIO leaders that the looming midterm elections offer a clear choice between moving forward with a stronger economy and moving backward with a failed GOP philosophy.

He ripped former President George W. Bush's administration for fostering "a profound animosity toward the notion of unions" and creating an unstable economy that only advanced the interests of "a privileged few."

The president's remarks were delivered against a backdrop of rising Democratic fears over the November elections due largely to what many analysts view as a tepid economic recovery.

"We're on the right track," Obama declared in his speech at the Washington Convention Center. But it "took us nearly a decade to dig ourselves into the hole that we're in" and a full recovery will take time.

Obama told the union leaders that they have to remind their members over for the next three months that the Republicans "drove America's economy into a ditch. And for the last 20 months ... we've been shoving that car out of the ditch and they've been standing" aside without "lifting a finger to help."

Now we've finally got the car "on the blacktop and they say they want the keys back. Well you can't have the keys because you don't know how to drive."

The president joked that "when you're in a car and you want to go forward, you put it in 'D.'" If you want to go backward, "you put it in 'R.'"

Among other things, Obama took credit for passing health care and Wall Street reform over a solid wall of GOP opposition. He also pledged to keep pushing for passage of the Employee Free Choice Act - a bill designed to make it easier for workers to unionize.

Republicans leaders have called the measure undemocratic because it discourages secret ballot elections.

- CNN's Alan Silverleib contributed to this report

Filed under: AFL-CIO • President Obama
soundoff (81 Responses)
  1. norma


    Obama's bad for businesses. Obama's failed economic policies. All new jobs are government jobs, not private sector jobs. Give me a break! The GOP lies never end. The facts tell a different story. Thank you President Obama for turning our dismal economy around!!!!!

    August 4, 2010 01:11 pm at 1:11 pm |
  2. Jerry

    He must be joking, here are the facts, January 3rd, 2007 was the day the Democrats took over the Senate and the Congress: At the time:
    The DOW Jones closed at 12,621.77
    The GDP for the previous quarter was 3.5%
    The Unemployment rate was 4.6%
    George Bush's Economic policies SET A RECORD of 52 STRAIGHT MONTHS of JOB CREATION! Remember the day...
    January 3rd, 2007 was the day that Barney Frank took over the House Financial Services Committee and Chris Dodd took over the Senate Banking Committee. The economic meltdown that happened 15 months later was in what part of the economy?
    THANK YOU DEMOCRATS for taking us from 13,000 DOW, 3.5 GDP and 4.6% Unemployment... to this CRISIS by (among MANY other things) dumping 5-6 TRILLION Dollars of toxic loans on the economy from YOUR Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac ! (BTW: Bush asked Congress 17 TIMES to stop Fannie & Freddie – starting in 2001 because it was Financially risky for the US economy):
    And who took the THIRD highest pay-off from Fannie Mae AND Freddie Mac? OBAMA And who fought against reform of Fannie and Freddie? Obama So when a LIB tries to blame Bush..REMEMBER JANUARY 3rd, 2007.... THE DAY THE DEMOCRATS TOOK OVER!

    August 4, 2010 01:13 pm at 1:13 pm |
  3. Oregon Calling

    I am so glad that this man is our President! He is correct that it took us some time to get into this mess and it will take us time to recover.

    Why wasn't immigration an issue during other administrations? Oh, that's right, it wasn't thought of as an issue. Why wasn't jobs, jobs, jobs an issue?

    Why is it that when we are lied to we are too afraid to stand up and say "What the F... uhmmm, hey?" But when we are told the harsh reality, some want to blame the person that is now in charge, and put a blind eye to what the previous lawmakers were doing.

    I am thankful for a sane person in the White House, the PEOPLE'S HOUSE!!! Happy Birthday President Obama!!!

    Peace 🙂

    August 4, 2010 01:16 pm at 1:16 pm |
  4. Orlando Patriot

    ANY college Economics textbook will tell you that unions force companies to pay higher than market salaries thus companies must hire fewer workers to pay for the union created inflated costs of business. Now the Health Care Bill will add MORE costs to businesses in the U.S. and if the Employee Free Choice Act is passed it will make it virtually IMPOSSIBLE for a U.S. firm to stay competitive since their marginal cost of labor will be higher than overseas companies.

    That being said simply TRY to explain the logic that more union involvement will create MORE jobs in the U.S. manufacturing industry? Quite simply it CAN"T. Businesses will be forced to relocate to more affordable locations overseas. So you have a choice: either accept market wage (and have a job) or force businesses to move overseas (therefore you WON"T have a job). Liberals are the most unimformed individuals and their incompetence, and the president's incompetence, of how an economy ACTUALLY works, is amazing and very discouraging. FDR did the same things in the 30's and CREATED the Great Depression and this president is duplicating this illogical philosophy and is CREATING this Great Recession!!

    August 4, 2010 01:17 pm at 1:17 pm |
  5. cnn always liberal all the time

    what a joke, payback time for the few, the powerful, the corrupt – the unions.

    August 4, 2010 01:17 pm at 1:17 pm |
  6. JP

    This speech has to be a joke. If Obama thinks that making unions stronger will help the economy he is insane. Unions destroy jobs look what they did for GM and Greece. Who wants to hire employees if Obama is going to make them overpaid union thugs.

    August 4, 2010 01:18 pm at 1:18 pm |

    Republicans cannot see anything good about Obama,because they have a bitter hatred for him.Anyway,he is a great President and you will never accept that.Stock markets are up because Republicans are going to win Nov. elections!!!Atleast,that is what Fox news telecasts.

    August 4, 2010 01:18 pm at 1:18 pm |
  8. Can't we all just get along?

    Keep ripping the GOP!

    You know, I never had any party affiliations until Bush got in office. Once he began attacking the Constitution and destroying our country bit by bit, he opened my eyes to the evils of the GOP. The GOP need to be given their redundancy letters now.

    August 4, 2010 01:18 pm at 1:18 pm |
  9. Gerald

    Yeah we look different. We have 3 times the debt, have lost 3.5 million private sector jobs and added 400,000 govenment jobs since the community organizer took office. On top of that if you question anyone of color you are labeled a racist now so it has not changed the country. We crossed a needed barrier but the President has not led us to a better place.

    August 4, 2010 01:19 pm at 1:19 pm |
  10. Justin

    Blame Bush. Blame Bush. Yaw yaw yaw. Broken record. How many years will the republicans get to blame Obama once he is voted out of office?

    August 4, 2010 01:19 pm at 1:19 pm |
  11. advanced the interests of "a privileged few."

    he is speaking about the NAACP I think

    August 4, 2010 01:21 pm at 1:21 pm |
  12. rob

    "and creating an unstable economy that only advanced the interests of "a privileged few."

    Great, now we have an unstable economy advancing the interests of no-one except the unions with the bailouts and stimulus money.

    When the Dems took over Congress in Jan. 2007, the economy was growing, the deficits were shrinking (about 250 Billion), and the unemployment rate was about 5%. Now the economy is barely growing, the deficits are projected at ONE TRILLION PER YEAR for the next TEN YEARS and we have 9.5% unemployed with no significant improvement seen by this administration for the forseeable future.

    Great Job Dems, good luck with that in the campaign.

    Nov. 2, can't come fast enough.

    August 4, 2010 01:22 pm at 1:22 pm |
  13. TTommy

    Our whiner in chief has been bought and paid for by the unions. They are why he is in office. Everyone knows it. Therefore, every decision he makes is based on what is best for his unions first and foremost. It didn't take Bush to tell us how corrupt unions are. We have all known it for decades. He is just going back to his "honey hole" as he has always done. The only thing he has left in his bag is "blame Bush". That got him elected but Americans are wise to him now. He had better come up with something a little more innovative than that or he is going to be in the mid-30's in approval ratings by November.

    August 4, 2010 01:24 pm at 1:24 pm |
  14. All the news that is fit to omit

    The real test of a man are his actions and his words and this gutless fraud can't stop blaming Bush, funny how the gutless fraud didn't mention Bush yesterday when HE took credit for ending the Iraq war.

    ALL of the timetables and surge ideas (that Oweblamo was against" happened between Bush and Iraq BEFORE the fraud in chief took office.


    Since 2006 what party has been in charge of the House and Senate and what has happened to this once great country since THEY took charge??????

    No more lies from the "cajone free" fraud in chief as it will be a slaughter in November and he will be ONE and DONE.

    August 4, 2010 01:25 pm at 1:25 pm |
  15. doug

    Libs cry about the Supreme Court standing up for free speech and fairness.

    Lib says oh no that's bad, "corporations are not people", but they don't hold that same thinking when it comes to unions.

    Many small businesses have been put out of business and bankrupted by Unions. However, it is ok to hurt them, according to Democrats they deserve to starve and not prosper.

    Meanwhile it is just great for people in Detroit to sit in a room all day doing nothing while earning over 75k a year with full pension.

    August 4, 2010 01:25 pm at 1:25 pm |
  16. obama victim

    interesting photo...union thug and a socialist....
    A K A....
    dumb and dumber

    August 4, 2010 01:26 pm at 1:26 pm |
  17. Patrick

    Ok, the RNC has done nothing to help this country in two years and Obama has these programs to stand on. Why are the democrats in trouble again? What is wrong with everyone? Are we really all that stupid?

    August 4, 2010 01:27 pm at 1:27 pm |
  18. Live Feed

    One thing is for certain, I feel the country is much safer from terrorism now that George Bush is not in Office.

    August 4, 2010 01:28 pm at 1:28 pm |
  19. Take America Back

    Well it seems all Obambi has left are the Unions (really only the Stewards and executives of Unions), Trial Lawyers, and Zombie Yellow-Dog Democrats who stand in long lines waiting on a "Community Organizer" to tell them what to do next! But Obambi will NOT do like Clinton ad move to "the middle".....because he is too proud! He will sink! Hillary will run against him in 2012 and win! But first, the Dems will lose control of the House and Senate.....WHY? Because they are too arrogant to admit they are where they are due to one main thing....OBAMACARE!
    Dont forget to turn the lights out!

    August 4, 2010 01:34 pm at 1:34 pm |
  20. Bob

    The White House is in bed with big unions. The Unions now control our government. I'm sure he'll meet with SEIU next.

    August 4, 2010 01:35 pm at 1:35 pm |
  21. Marty, FL

    Keep up the good work, Mr. President. Many Americans can see through the transparent gimmicks & ploys from Republican "leaders" avoiding their governing responsibilities. We move our country forward, not backwards.

    Happy Birthday, President Obama!

    August 4, 2010 01:36 pm at 1:36 pm |
  22. Enough

    Full recovery won't start until Obama is out of office and the spending spree stops. Common sense should tell this can't spend and tax your way out of a recession.....Hire a community organizer to run the country and this is the disaster you get.

    August 4, 2010 01:41 pm at 1:41 pm |
  23. Michael1959

    Keep talking Obama, your doing nothing but helping the GOP.

    August 4, 2010 01:41 pm at 1:41 pm |
  24. Enough

    Sorry Obama you are totally clueless. I would much rather have the Republicans back than the Democrats continue to destroy this country. Atleast they understand how to make an economy recover. Since Obama has no claim to fame on his accomplishments, there aren't any he spews the same old rhetoric.............Too bad we are smarter than he is and can see through his empty speeches.

    August 4, 2010 01:44 pm at 1:44 pm |
  25. Old Farmboy

    CNN itself has said that the recession started in 2007. Didn't democrats take over the house and congress in 2006? Hmmm.. It makes you wonder. Personally, i think the koolaid is starting to wear off and people are coming out of the trance.

    August 4, 2010 01:45 pm at 1:45 pm |
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