During a stop in Philadelphia for the AFL-CIO’s annual constitutional convention, President Joe Biden made a plea for November’s midterm elections: Pennsylvanians concerned about labor issues should elect Lt. Governor John Fetterman in the US Senate.
Biden said he spoke to Fetterman, who is recovering from a stroke, via Zoom on Monday. “If you’re in a burrow, you want John with you, man,” he said. “There is no bigger and louder voice for working people in this state than John.”
Fetterman’s campaign says he has his own hopes of working for Biden and Congress. Reached for comment, a spokesperson said the Democratic candidate wants to see the PRO law passed – a bill that would facilitate unionization, blocked in the Senate – and that “we should increase production in all sectors, increasing capacity and supply to bring prices down”.
The upcoming midterm reviews also loomed over the rest of Biden’s speech.
Pennsylvania’s election is the Democrats’ likeliest move to clinch a U.S. Senate seat and free themselves from some of the gridlock that has plagued Biden’s agenda. But the election is also clouded by rising prices for food, gasoline and other basic necessities – inflation that has hurt Biden’s ballot numbers.
In response, Biden tried to highlight the way his administration is trying to strengthen unions and help workers, even as he gets trapped by rising prices.
“When you succeed, everyone else succeeds,” he said. “If the investment bankers – they’re not all bad guys, they’re not bad – but if they went on strike, not much would happen. But guess what? Guess what? I say this to my friend, if the IBEW goes on strike, everything stops.
Like Fetterman, Biden has touted his support for the PRO Act, as well as creating jobs by upgrading infrastructure and investing in green energy projects – saying that its bipartisan infrastructure law was “more than rebuilding our infrastructure, it’s about rebuilding the middle class”.
The president said his administration was working globally to release oil and grain reserves. He also floated the idea that cost savings for workers could come from other areas, such as insulin price capfederally funded child care — part of the Stalled Build Back Better plan -and tax credits to help people pay to make their homes more energy efficient.
He said that given the presidency and congressional majorities, Republicans would support ending or drastically curtailing federal programs — referring to a fringe plan by Florida Republican Senator Rick Scottwho chairs the Republican National Senate Committee, to end nearly all federal laws after five years if Congress does not extend them.
And he repeatedly criticized the previous administration for its tax cuts that benefited the very rich on the middle classand blamed Republicans for his inability to make them back down. Some members of his own party also resisted Restoration.
“Look, we can do all of this,” he said. “All I’m asking is that the biggest corporations and the wealthiest Americans start paying their fair share of taxes. I am deadly serious.
The speech also comes as the administration could be on the verge of a clash with unions over how to tackle inflation.
Recently, Biden reportedly considered easing some Donald Trump-era tariffs in an effort to drive down prices — specifically, exempting certain consumer goods from tariffs against China, according to Axios.
The unions are reluctant to this idea. Earlier this month, United Steelworkers President Thomas Conway went public with his position, filing a comment with the Office of the United States Trade Representative on behalf of the Labor Advisory Committee for Trade Negotiations and Trade Policy, urging the administration to extend all tariffs against China.
“Too many American companies have failed to take the necessary steps to address the threat posed by CCP policies,” he wrote. “Many continue to outsource production, research and development, undermining US competitiveness and national security interests. … Our government must act in the national interest to strengthen our economy for the future.
Despite any potential political disagreements, Biden received a rousing reception from the assembled workers and organized labor advocates at the Philadelphia Convention Center.
When introducing him, AFL-CIO President Liz Shuler called Biden “the most pro-union president in U.S. history.”
Learn more about our partners, WHY.