Labor Tries to Flex Post-Election Muscle

Photograph by Emile Wamsteker/Bloomberg

Union members and community activists gather during an AFL-CIO demonstration in Trenton, New Jersey.

Labor and other progressive activists are kicking off a final flurry of lobbying to keep Congress from taking a wrong turn in trying to avoid the fiscal cliff, the end of the year deadline when automatic spending cuts and tax increases kick in.

Representatives from at least 33 states are in Washington today and tomorrow to urge lawmakers to protect benefits for Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security, and instead allow the George W. Bush-era tax cuts for the wealthy to expire, according to the AFL-CIO.

As part of the campaign, the labor federation is releasing a state-by-state accounting of residents who benefit from the entitlement programs, which some experts say need to be trimmed to fix the nation’s fiscal woes.

“Working people, jobless people and retirees, who just voted for a middle-class economy, shouldn’t have to sacrifice their health care and retirement security so that the richest 2 percent can continue getting more tax breaks,” said AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka in a statement.

Trumka said the labor group will also continue to hold events in congressional districts as Congress tries to reach a tax and spending deal.

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