Saturday, April 18, 2009

The Employee Free Choice Act

Short Term Bad News. Long Term Lookin' Better.

I have to admit it, I'm not terrifically optimistic about Employee Free Choice Act making it through the Senate . . . at least not before election 2010. The RepubliCons are absolutely in lock-step on this one. Even soon-to-be former Senator Arlen Specter of (R - Pennsylvania), who co-sponsored the Employee Free Choice Act when it was originally introduced in Congress, has stated that he wouldn't vote for cloture on the bill. He's trying to shore up his right flank. The Democrats do not have the 60th vote to beat a filibuster.

Specter is desperately afraid of losing his seat in the Senate, but he's made the exact wrong move here, although politically, he's rather backed into a corner anyway. Former Rep. Pat Toomey - fresh off a stint as head of the ultra-right anti-tax organization, Club For Growth - came within 1 or 2 percentage points of beating Specter in 2004, and has announced his intention to run again. Back in '04,
Soon-to-be Former Sen. Specter had the support of organized labor. Since that election, something like 280,000 Pennsylvanians have either switched to the Democrats, or simply left the Republican Party to become independents. These people are center-rightish voters who have left the 'Cons because the national party has moved so far off the right wing chart that it no longer appears on paper, but can only be found in some distant quasi-visual dimension of alternate reality. These center-right voters cannot vote in a Republican primary, because in Pennsylvania these elections are open only to party members.

Without the support of organized labor, which he just tossed under the bus in an effort to appeal to the increasingly conservative rump of the Republican caucus, no way does Soon-to-be Former Senator Arlen Specter make it through the primary. And Toomey will get slaughtered in the General Election. He is waaaay to right wing for Pennsylvania. This is almost a guaranteed pickup for the Dems in 2010.

Pennsylvania, or North Carolina, or possibly Ohio, could very well provide that key 60th vote on the issue, but not until 2010. The only Democrat who's really in trouble in the Senate on 2010 is Chris Dodd, so taking two out of those three states may be key for the passage of the Employee Free Choice Act.

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