Labor Unions Weigh in on Need for Congress to Maintain Tax Cuts, Spending

Congress will return to work on Monday still aiming to come to an agreement with the White House on how to avoid the “fiscal cliff” deadline approaching on January 2.  January 2 is when over $500 billion in tax cuts will go away and other governmental spending for various programs will end.

Various special interest groups including labor unions and the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP) have begun running television and radio advertisements aimed at drawing attention to the looming deadline.  The advertising spots are targeted specifically at spending cuts and expiring tax cuts that should they occur would negatively impact funding to those groups.

Lawmakers are challenged by balancing appeasing the desires of their constituents with finding a way to reduced the $1.2 trillion federal budget deficit the country is facing in the coming year.

The labor unions include the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees (AFSCME), the National Education Association (NEA), and the Service Employees International Union (SEIU).  These labor unions are targeting Colorado, Virginia, and Missouri where Democrat members of the Senate are tasked with keeping Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, and education-related benefits from lapsing.

Specifically, the Congress members being targeted by the advertisement include Senators Michael Bennet and Mark Udall of Colorado, Mark Warner and Jim Webb of Virginia, and Claire McCaskill of Missouri.

Although labor unions have historically backed Democrat lawmakers, in this case the labor unions are also targeting Republican members of Congress, including Jo Ann Emerson of Missouri, Don Young of Alaska, and Pat Meeham and Mike Fitzpatrick of Pennsylvania.

The advertisements begin “How do we move our country forward and reduce the deficit?  By creating jobs and growing our economy, not by cutting programs that families rely on most.”

The advertisements also call out keeping tax cuts passed during the Bush administration that help taxpayers who make less than $250,000 annually.  Approximately 98 percent of Americans fall into this category.

Advertisements by the AARP take a different focus, calling out in a national advertising campaign that lawmakers should not cram rash decisions into a last-minute deal that could affect millions of senior citizens for years to come.

According to AARP Executive Vice President Nancy LeaMond, “Raiding Medicare and Social Security to pay for other government programs is shortsighted and harmful to seniors and their kids and grandkids.”

Retailers are also making their feelings known about the impending changes, as measures that leave less income from middle-class Americans will greatly reduce their ability to spend at such retailers.

CVS Caremark and Walgreens, which are two of America’s largest drug store chains, are two such retailers.  CVS Caremark Chief Officer Executive Larry J. Merlo and Walgreens Chief Executive Officer Greg Wasson have called for the parties to set aside their differing viewpoints to find a bi-partisan approach to keep the tax cuts in place and the budget cuts from happening.

In addition, Costco Wholesale Chief Executive Officer Craig Jelinek has called for President Obama to likewise be more willing to work with the measure Congress brings to him so that middle-class Americans are not negatively impacted.

by Mark Johnston

Mark has been a contributor to legal web sites related to bankruptcy, tax, and criminal law since 2011. He has an Accounting degree from Texas A&M University.