U.S. Vice President Joe Biden warned the nation’s largest union of government workers that Mitt Romney, the presumptive Republican presidential nominee, has a “fundamentally different value set” and would gut spending for nurses, firefighters and other public-sector jobs
Speaking before the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees biannual convention in Los Angeles, Biden said Romney would be emboldened by a failed union-led drive to recall Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker and push for cuts in funding for the public sector to pay for tax reductions. The union is facing a “full-blown assault,” he said.
Biden said a federal budget plan proposed by Representative Paul Ryan, a Wisconsin Republican and chairman of the House Budget Committee would lead to “draconian” cuts that would reduce services for the middle class while putting union members out of work. Romney has endorsed the Ryan plan.
“Romney and his friends think if you just lavish more tax cuts on them and eviscerate the poor and the middle class, somehow that’s going to grow the economy,” Biden told the 5,000 union representatives.
AFSCME, with 1.6 million members, has already endorsed President Barack Obama’s re-election, though it publicly disagreed with him when he dropped the public option from his health care overhaul and extended George W. Bush-era tax cuts.
The government workforce has been one of the few bright spots for organized labor in recent years. Public-sector workers became the majority of union members in the U.S. for the first time in 2009. Their jobs and benefits would be threatened by a Romney win, Biden said.
“Romney, Ryan and the new Republicans in Congress have shown us their budget,” Biden said. “It’s clear they don’t value you very much.”
Romney spokeswoman Andrea Saul said Biden is pushing failed policies that have not created jobs or improved the economy. Fewer regulations would encourage job growth, she said,
“We have tried President Obama’s big-government policies for more than three years and they have not worked,” Saul said in an e-mail. “We need a new direction.”
Biden was introduced by Gerald McEntee, the president of AFSCME, who called the Obama-Biden ticket “the only choice for the 99 percent of us.”
Obama and Biden “will raise hell to make sure the people right here in this room get a fair shot,” said McEntee, who is retiring after 31 years.
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