Published May 25, 2010
Unions have made no bones about their upcoming involvement in the midterm elections of 2010.
In short, unions are scared to death that they will lose their grip on their control of the House and the Senate unless they spend tens of millions of dollars and force their members to campaign for Democratic incumbents.
Unions have been able to run the table when it comes to getting what they want from the White House, Majority Leader Harry Reid and Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi.
This is what President Obama recently said to a gathering of big labor, "I do not view the labor movement as part of the problem," he adds. "To me, and to my administration, labor unions are a big part of the solution."
The president and the leadership of the Democratic Party has heaped great praise on unions for helping pass the over 700 billion dollar stimulus bill, the auto industry bailouts and most recently health care. Democrats believe that they could not have "accomplished" these efforts without the help of unions.
Now unions are fearful that their "gravy train' could be derailed by the midterms and they are gearing up to influence elections nationwide in a way that may eclipse the efforts of individual candidates or even the Democratic National Committee.
Unions have made no secret that they plan to spend $100 million dollars to keep Democratic incumbents in office in 2010. In addition, they plan to use hundreds of thousands of man-hours with their members "campaigning " and "organizing" in key election districts all across America.
Here is what the president of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) said with regard to the midterm elections, "We have got to protect the incumbency in the House. We have got to protect the incumbency in the Senate...It is going to be hard. Those tea-baggers are out there. There is an anti-incumbency mood out there." As far as I'm concerned, this sounds more like a statement from a party chairman than a union president.
Here is what communications director Steve Smith of the California labor Federation said with regard to their upcoming election efforts, "We are going to devote more resources to the 2010 campaign than we have ever done in any prior campaign."
Unions have been emboldened to act as a shadow political party. They have used the law to act brazenly and shadowy when it comes to their support of candidates. Unions today can coordinate with the DNC and candidates to strategize and place resources without restrictions.
The Federal Election Commission promised new rules in light of the Supreme Court's decision in the Citizen's United Case to insure candidates and parties do not lose control over campaign messaging and spending.
The fear is that in the aftermath of Citizen's United, unions would not only be permitted to spend without limits but they will also no longer have time restriction on when monies can be spent and restriction on direct coordination with campaigns and parties.
Without new rules set by the FEC, unions and corporations will be able to spend freely without disclosure to the FEC, shareholders or the SEC. In addition, without new rules corporations and unions who greatly benefited directly from legislation would be able to "reward" their friends and punish their enemies without disclosure.
Unless new rules are put in place to govern union and corporate coordination and disclosure, political parties will be eclipsed by non-political entities that are selfishly motivated.
The American people should demand that the FEC act now before the 2010-midterm elections.
The people not powerful unions and corporations should decide elections.
Bradley A. Blakeman served as deputy assistant to President George W. Bush from 2001-04. He is currently a professor of Politics and Public Policy at Georgetown University and a frequent contributor to the Fox Forum.
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