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. Bill

    The priviliged few are the party line democrats. Plain SImple End of discussion. At least some people took voluntary pay cuts to help. Did you Barack? They tried to get input of ideas into the democratic parties ideas... and they were unwelcome. After awhile you sorta stand back and let the other person do it ... since they don't want your help....

    August 4, 2010 01:45 pm at 1:45 pm |
  2. Naqib

    "took us nearly a decade to dig ourselves into the hole that we're in" and a full recovery will take time. "

    Really? 2006 was awesome... then the Dems (you included) took over congress and it's been down hill ever since. Yes we woul like to go back to 2000/2006... Great times, 4.6 unemployment, 13000 DOW... and we will come November... you and your Union leadership whom you've bailed out forgetting anyone else... well... BYE

    August 4, 2010 01:45 pm at 1:45 pm |
  3. ib

    I agree little with President Obama but he is exactly right in this case. It is so easy for the GOP to find the boogey man and they find it in the unions and illegal immigrants (read all hispanics). They must not forget that they are the ones who, for some ungodly reason, support corporations. The average GOPer is really an uninformed clodhopper.

    August 4, 2010 01:46 pm at 1:46 pm |
  4. awaitingliberalizationbyCNN

    The corrupt, unethical, immoral, inept talking to the corrupt, unethical and immoral, once again showing his strength by ripping, demeaning and blasting someone. This the one who was supposed to bring us together. The greatest fraud in the history of this country scoring points with the criminal organization that has destroyed almost all jobs and manufacturing in this country. How appropriate.

    August 4, 2010 01:47 pm at 1:47 pm |
  5. Massachusetts Independent

    Liar, liar, pants on fire!

    When will America wake up and realize that Obama is all talk and nothing else – crisp, funny, and eloquent sound bytes are all that he has to offer.

    When Obama arrived in DC he led the Party of Tax & Spend; after 18 months he is the leader of the Party of Cheat, Lie, Steal and then Tax and Spend on the Base to cover it all up and stay in office. ENOUGH

    August 4, 2010 01:48 pm at 1:48 pm |
  6. Marry

    Very well put, Mr. President! It just needs to be said like it is. And this is how it is!
    Happy birthday Mr. President. For the comming year(s) all the best for you and your family.

    August 4, 2010 01:53 pm at 1:53 pm |
  7. SLM

    Pro Union=Anti business..............and then wonder why the economy isn't recovering. Time to quit blaming the GOP for the Democrats inadequate solutions. Tax and spend is NOT the solution. Since Obama has no viable solution he does the only thing he knows how to do, campaign and point fingers. That worked when he had no record to go on, it isn't working since his own earned record is pathetic. 2012 can't come soon enough. Start by voting correctly this November.

    August 4, 2010 01:55 pm at 1:55 pm |
  8. dont worry

    He's right about about the car joke though. D-progressive go forward R-conserve and go backward or hold back.

    August 4, 2010 01:55 pm at 1:55 pm |
  9. Vince

    No surprise, Obama is in front of his handlers. Dont think ive ever seen a president more beholden to unions. He would sleep at the foot of union bosses beds if they told him to.

    August 4, 2010 01:55 pm at 1:55 pm |
  10. TA Bartlett

    This is an easy choice for me: Let's go back to GWB/GOP days when the average unemployment was around 5%. Sorry Mr. President, I can't feed my family with hope and change. I didn't realize that the "Green" economy meant we would use less energy by having 20% of the workforce unemployed.

    August 4, 2010 02:00 pm at 2:00 pm |
  11. Ted

    Give the GOP hell, Mr President. You are 100% correct that the GOP put us into this mess. Bush took office with a huge surplus and left with a raging deficit, made worse by his two stupid insane wars. The Grand Obstructionist Party will never admit that they hate America, hate the unemployed, hate the people that cannot get healthcare, but they love the rich and will give them more tax cuts.

    Mr President – keep the focus on what you have accomplished and what the GOP has obstructed.

    Thank you.

    August 4, 2010 02:04 pm at 2:04 pm |
  12. snow

    Yep, nobama sucks up to the unions and bows to third world leaders. I cannot wait for 2012 and throw this bum out.

    August 4, 2010 02:06 pm at 2:06 pm |
  13. mj

    Simple explanation. Obama needs their money. Union needs Obama.

    August 4, 2010 02:06 pm at 2:06 pm |
  14. sharon

    Ever since Pres. Obama been in office the republicans have been refusing him every step of the way. They question his birthright & ethics and sometimes makes racist remarks. My question to you is.Why did you send our jobs overseas? Did you not stop & think we need jobs, healthcare and what happen to all that money that was in surplus? You lied to usabout war that cost lives & money. Continue to give to the rich while the poor&middleclass are hurting. Just keep on saying No. We Americans refuse to live in the past. Either you come up with solution or shut up. We have enough of yourbroken promises.

    August 4, 2010 02:10 pm at 2:10 pm |
  15. floridian

    How's that "I will be a uniter" coming, Mr. President? Taking credit for passing legistlation with a solid majority in both chambers of Congress sounds like an arrogant boast that could not have happened without buying votes and went against a majority of Americans. So, perhaps he should have taken credit for pushing garbage through Congress despite some legitimate questions by the opposition party and having to write a multi-trillion dollar IOU for our kids and grandkids.

    August 4, 2010 02:18 pm at 2:18 pm |
  16. jay

    The GOP says if the Bush tax cut expire it will hurt the economy, all the years the tax cuts were in place, the economy lost millions of jobs. The tax cuts were just plain old greed.

    August 4, 2010 02:19 pm at 2:19 pm |
  17. Jilli

    Republicans aren't interested in the interests of working people, they're working for the best interests of the businesses that bought them.

    August 4, 2010 02:24 pm at 2:24 pm |
  18. DENNA

    If the unions want to remain viable, they had better throw in with the Democrats. The Rethugs are notoriously anti-union and pro-business. The ordinary citizens are suffering badly from Rethug mismanagement of the economy. They don't need to get another chance to finish us off. Just saying.

    August 4, 2010 02:28 pm at 2:28 pm |
  19. Jack

    It figures. Good audiance for Obama to tell half truths. He fails to tell the union members that Congress was and is the body that conducts oversight of all financial matters of the US Government and provides the laws and regulations that the agencies are supposed to control business they are just if not more responsible for the current recession. Also if one searches back to the root cause involving the bundling of loans it connects directly to the Congressional mandate to Freddie and Fannie and the banking system that a set percentage (quotas???) of loans be given to people who do not meet tight requirements for loans. Thus bad loans were bundled and the greed caused their use to undermine the economy. If those loans had not been there the housing and banking industry would not be in the condition it is today. And by the way...they are still making those loans at the direction of Congress...just no one will touch them now. Get a grip and quit blaming Bush...Congress is the real culprit.

    August 4, 2010 02:30 pm at 2:30 pm |
  20. Give it up!

    I guess our "man-child" President has no idea that blaming Bush/GOP is NOT working anymore...AND IT WON'T WORK IN NOVEMBER EITHER...

    August 4, 2010 02:35 pm at 2:35 pm |
  21. Steve (the real one)

    Must be "silly season". After a year and a half, its still blame Bush? Are unions exempt from YOUR health care bill? If so, Why? Are unions exempt from the cadillac plan taxes? if so, why? Your base are the unions and the entitled. What about the rest of us to INCLUDE the middle class that has to pay for YOUR give aways? Interesting how the left complains the the right is PRO business (you know, the folks that create jobs) and yet the left is PRO unions (the folk that create havoc). Some on the left will attempt to pooh pooh my post but I have 2 questions
    1. How much of the price of the car is due to union greed?
    2. Why did the union attempt to get a seat at the GM Board of Directors?

    August 4, 2010 02:39 pm at 2:39 pm |
  22. Clay

    This is a real shocker coming from the most anti-business president in my lifetime. I remember during the campaign how people warned that Obama was a radical who had never worked in a business or run anything. As a business owner I was snookered by his charm but I should have listened because he is a radical or as Gingrich says a Secular Socialist. Truer words have not been spoken.

    August 4, 2010 02:39 pm at 2:39 pm |
  23. Blame Bush

    Blah, blah, blah...Bush is at fault for the economy, global warming, his golf game, and jump shot. Obama is president. Man up and lead. Blaming Bush is getting old...

    August 4, 2010 02:42 pm at 2:42 pm |
  24. toughlove

    He's a sellout. No more sellouts! No more hypocrisy! Bush acted Like a fiscal liberal. ..we need true fiscal conservatism again and America knows it!

    August 4, 2010 02:45 pm at 2:45 pm |
  25. Jim

    A "backdrop of rising Democratic fears over the November elections" ??? Whatever! I'm not afraid. If Americans are stupid enough to put the idiots back in charge who screwed everything up and are trying to stop all efforts to fix things, then they get what they deserve. The Republicans don't a single new proposal that is different from the dumb stuff they did when they were in charge before.

    August 4, 2010 02:47 pm at 2:47 pm |
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