Labor, Environmental Partnership Urges Fairness, Economic Growth and Environmental Protection in Fiscal Cliff Negotiations
WASHINGTON, DC (December 21, 2012) As the House, Senate and the President continue to negotiate for a solution to avert the fiscal cliff, the BlueGreen Alliance today released a statement from its 14 labor unions and environmental organizations urging them to find a solution that drives fairness, economic growth and environmental protection, while also addressing concerns about the federal debt.
BlueGreen Alliance Statement
“Congress and the President face a stark choice in the policies being offered to address our current crises – a choice between austerity and shared prosperity. The bottom line: Austerity and budget cuts now will make our economic and environmental crises worse and lead to more misery for millions of people. Conversely, a program of shared prosperity, labor rights, environmental protection, and public investment, will lead to job creation, higher standards of living and an enhanced quality of life.
“The advocates of austerity call for significant cuts to vital programs and public investments as a means to decrease the federal deficit. Practical experience and 70 years of history have proven that economic austerity and budget cuts in a period of high unemployment lead to more job loss and economic misery. This is what happened when budgets were balanced in the U.S. during the Great Depression and recently in Great Britain. It would be short sighted and immoral to deal with our economic problems by cutting important programs and placing undue burdens on the middle class. The impacts of such policies will reach far into the future. For example, we should not undercut the advancements we are finally making in clean energy – a sector that will be among the biggest job-creating and pollution-reducing industries of the future.
“There is a clear alternative to austerity. Shared prosperity includes long term investments in our physical and human infrastructure that will increase good jobs, improve our environment, and create the conditions for a sustainable economy that will resolve concerns about the federal debt. Our own history shows that the policies of shared prosperity ended the Great Depression and provided the basis for the following three decades of economic prosperity while also paying off the largest federal debt ever incurred because of WWII.
“In spite of the often one-sided rhetoric, we can drive programs of fairness and innovation, economic growth and environmental protection, job creation and climate change pollution reduction. We can do all of this while also addressing concerns about the federal debt. And we can achieve this without squeezing America’s working class and our engines of innovation.
“Our real challenge is to build a fair, sustainable economy for the 21st Century that puts America on a path toward both broad prosperity as well as economic and environmental sustainability. As the debate moves toward Congressional action and supposed “grand bargains,” we believe that the following principles must be met to achieve the vision we have laid out:
“No additional cuts. The cuts to federal programs demanded by House leadership have already gone too far in weakening the safety net and public safeguards and diminishing basic investments in domestic infrastructure and innovation.
“Revenues. As a matter of belief that we owe future generations more opportunities for broad prosperity, lawmakers must be open minded about rescinding tax breaks for companies/industries and individuals that do not need them. These revenues should be used primarily to invest in America.
“Invest in America and Good Jobs. Our economy requires significant investments in the industries and infrastructure of the 21st century including clean energy, advanced transportation, broadband, education, water and healthcare. These investments will provide millions of jobs, protect our quality of life and help build a new foundation for a sustainable economy. We also need to ensure that these are good jobs by restoring workers’ rights to collectively bargain, raising the minimum wage, and improving other workplace standards.
“Democratic Reform. The only way to ensure that public policy is made in the public interest is to ensure that government – and elected officials – are accountable to all our citizens. This requires basic reforms to guarantee that every citizen has the right and ability to vote and that private interests cannot dominate the electoral and legislative process.
“We strongly advise lawmakers to abide by these principles. They will create the conditions and incentives needed to resolve our current economic crisis, improve the quality of life of all Americans, and provide the basis for such improvements for future generations. Succumbing to the faulty policies of austerity will exacerbate our economic and environmental crises – the two most serious generational challenges we currently face.”