AFL-CIO big Trumka bristles at Barack

Barack smacked down for straying from collectivist principles

As he prepares to accept the Democratic presidential nomination, Barack Obama's allies in organized labor are worried that he is becoming too friendly with Wall Street types such as former Treasury Secretary and current Citigroup, Inc. senior executive Robert Rubin.

According to Bloomberg News, a recent presentation by Richard Trumka of the AFL-CIO argued that unfettered global traded and inadequate government regulation resulted in lost manufacturing jobs. "It will do us little good if, when the next Democrat moves into the White House, Wall Street takes command of our country's economic policy," Bloomberg quotes Trumka's presentation as saying. The story adds that there is no doubt that Trumka is taking a shot at Rubin.

Trumka is unapologetic. The AFL-CIO already is flexing its political muscle and began looking at candidates for cabinet posts including the Treasury and Energy Departments along with the Federal Reserve. Obama's advisors deny that Rubin or anyone else has any particular sway over his economic policies. But there definitely is a tilt toward the center going on.

Obama, who backs union goals such as reopening NAFTA and universal health care, recently raised a few eyebrows when he seemed to accept the notion that he can't pay for these programs only through the capital gains tax. Last week, two Obama advisers wrote in the Wall Street Journal that the Illinois senator would only consider raising capital gains taxes from 15% to 20% instead of as high as 28%. That's no cause for celebration for investors, but the prospect of an Obama presidency is no reason to panic, either.

This weekend, the New York Times chronicled the battle between Obama and John McCain for the hearts and minds of businesses both large and small. Corporate types are not enthusiastic backers of McCain but are backing him since their favored candidate Mitt Romney got out of the race. Obama, though, does have his share of backers in the corporate world including Google Inc. Chief Executive Eric Schmidt. Warren Buffett has also advised him.

Organized labor knows that Obama needs their support. They are going to hold the Illinois senator's feet to the fire to make sure that he doesn't forget them even as he tries to make new friends at the boardroom level. It will be a tricky balance to maintain through the general election.


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