AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka says he wants dramatic action to deal with the nation’s jobs crisis – but vehemently opposes the policies Texas Gov. Rick Perry is hailing as a “Texas Miracle” in his quest for the Republican presidential nomination.
A key sales point in Governor Perry’s campaign is his state’s record of job creation at a time when job growth in the US as a whole is lagging. A report by the Dallas Federal Reserve said that 37 percent of the jobs created in the US since 2009 have been in Texas.
Perry has used that record, and his forceful personality, to rise to the top of the popularity polls among GOP candidates. A Gallup poll released Wednesday found that 29 percent of Republicans and Republican-leaning independents nationwide say they are most likely to support Perry, with Mitt Romney next, at 17 percent.
But the low tax, light regulation Texas model leaves Mr. Trumka unimpressed. When asked Thursday at a Monitor-sponsored breakfast for reporters whether the Texas model should be replicated nationally, union chief Trumka responded, "God help us if that model is nationalized.”
While Perry stresses his state's job creation record, Trumka sees flaws. “Economists will tell you they have the same unemployment level down there you’ve had anywhere else. The jobs that were created were minimum wage or sub-minimum wage. I don't think that's a necessarily a good model for the future,” he said.
Texas’ unemployment rate, 8.4 percent, is 27th in the nation, according to calculations by the Dallas Morning News. The national average is 9.2 percent.
“Our problem is that workers don’t have enough to spend. Not that we ought to give more people less money to spend, which is what happened,” Trumka said of Texas' low wage approach. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, Texas is tied with Mississippi for having the highest proportion of hourly workers earning at or below the minimum wage.
“If you look at where they are in education, if you look at where they are in health care, it's a dismal model," Trumka said. "I don't see it as a miracle and I don't think most informed people see it as a miracle."