With the election season upon us, United Steelworkers (USW) members and union officials gathered in downtown Pittsburgh at the USW headquarters today to reaffirm their support for President Obama and his economic policies.
USW President Leo Gerard said a month after Mr. Obama took office the economy lost 700,000 jobs with the steel industry losing 100,000 in less than eight months.
He said the President deserves credit for turning the economy around.
"We've had 30 months of continuous economic growth," said Gerard. "And for the manufacturing industry we're pleased and proud to represent, we've now created more private sector manufacturing jobs in the last two years than any other time since the mid-1990s. And that belongs to President Obama. Not to Milton Romney and the right-wing Republican crowd he hangs with."
Gerard said the automotive industry relies heavily on steel manufacturers, and without a bailout of the auto companies, many steel workers would be without jobs.
He said he supports the President's proposed "Buffett Rule" which states that "no household making more than $1 million each year should pay a smaller share of their income in taxes than a middle class family." According to the White House, 22,000 households making more than $1 million in 2009 paid less than 15 percent in income taxes, with 1,470 paying no federal income tax.
Gerard said Republicans want to pursue policies that led to the recession.
"Mitt Romney wants to keep the same rate of taxation for millionaires and billionaires except for one thing, he wants to lower it even more," said Gerard. "He wants to lower that and he has the gall to talk about that while he's got millions of dollars in Swiss bank accounts, and while he's got millions of dollars in the Cayman Islands not paying taxes."
Patrick Gaspard, Executive Director of the Democratic National Committee, said, while many Republicans call the rule "class warfare," it embodies fairness for everyone. He said the GOP has a different idea of "progress" than they do.
"They'd roll us back from the four million jobs that have been grown in the private sector over the course of the last two years," said Gaspard. "They'd roll us back from saving the iconic automobile industry that has served as the backbone of the middle class in states like Pennsylvania, and Michigan, and Ohio, and Indiana as well."
Gaspard said the President's policies have brought 400,000 new manufacturing jobs nationwide, with 100,000 in Pennsylvania.
According to a recent Gallup poll, 60 percent of American s favor the "Buffett Rule," while 37 oppose the tax. The most recent Washington Post-ABC News poll shows more Americans disapprove of the way the President has handled the economy with a disapproval rating of 54 percent and approval at 44 percent.