"Dogs and cats, living together ... mass hysteria!" -Dr. Peter Venkman, "Ghostbusters"
That's what it feels like around Washington these days, after Democrats
and Republicans sat together at Tuesday night's State of the Union
address. Everyone seems to be getting along.
In perhaps the eeriest sign of this new motif, the presidents of the AFL-CIO and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce released a joint statement earlier today.
From AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka and Chamber President and CEO Thomas Donohue, who are both currently attending the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland:
"America's working families and business community stand united in applauding President Obama's call to create jobs and grow our economy through investment in our nation's infrastructure.
"Whether it is building roads, bridges, high-speed broadband, energy systems and schools, these projects not only create jobs and demand for businesses, they are an investment in building the modern infrastructure our country needs to compete in a global economy.
"With the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the AFL-CIO standing together to support job creation, we hope that Democrats and Republicans in Congress will also join together to build America's infrastructure."
As the nation's leading labor and business groups, the AFL-CIO and the Chamber do not like each other, historically. In fact, both possess massive, elegant office buildings that overlook the White House across Lafayette Square in downtown DC. The three buildings form a triangle that drips with power and rivalry. Trumka kept his office blinds drawn shut for eight years when George W. Bush occupied the White House. With few exceptions, employees of these organizations do not socialize.
That's not to say labor and business don't agree on some policies. They both supported the stimulus. Both like infrastructure spending. Both want to "grow the economy" (and who doesn't?).
But the fact of the statement is probably more significant than its actual contents, especially given its timing--the day after Obama's State of the Union address, and two weeks after the tragic shooting in Tucson, Arizona that seems to have deeply changed the mood in Washington.