Card Check Encounters Political Realities

Elements of President Obama’s legislative agenda are starting to run into the realities of American politics. The first casualty might well be the Employee Free Choice Act.

Only George Orwell could love the way they name these things.

Anyway, the bill, more commonly known as card check, is getting some push-back from Democrats as well as the occasional liberal Republican. Keep in mind that the Democrats played around with this last year and let it drop because they knew that Bush would veto it. The thinking was get a Democratic president and shove it through.

For a lot of Democrats supporting the bill was an easy call because they knew it wasn’t going anywhere. Now it’s a different story. Vote for it and go home to a non-union state and explain yourself. Not a particularly attractive option.

As the Wall Street Journal reports, the vote in the Senate is anything but assured as it appears that the Democrats would not have the 60 vote majority required to push it through.

At least six Senators who have voted to move forward with the so-called card-check proposal, including one Republican, now say they are opposed or not sure — an indication that Senate Democratic leaders are short of the 60 votes they need for approval.

The legislation is divisive and distracting, said Arkansas Sen. Blanche Lincoln in an interview Monday. The Democratic lawmaker, who was previously seen as a supporter, said the Senate should focus on creating jobs and improving the U.S. economy. “I have 90,000 Arkansans who need a job, that’s my No. 1 priority,” she said. The legislation, she said, would be “divisive and we don’t need that right now. We need to focus on the things that are more important.”

Sen. Lincoln is one of several moderate Democrats expressing doubts about the Employee Free Choice Act. The bill would allow unions to organize workers without a secret ballot, giving employees the power to organize by simply signing cards agreeing to join. A second provision would give federal arbitrators power to impose contract terms on companies that fail to reach negotiated agreements with unions. Both provisions are strongly opposed by business groups, including the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the National Association of Manufacturers.

Louisiana Sen. Mary Landrieu and Arkansas Sen. Mark Pryor are among the Democratic lawmakers who have backed off their previous support.

It is surprising that this proposal ever received serious backing by the rank and file of the Democratic Party. It invites coercion and fraud and eviscerates the entire concept of privacy and free choice. In short it gainsays most of what this country stands for. The fact that the Democrats are having difficulty coping with the reality of their pandering to the unions is just deserts.

Reaching too far is a common fault of political parties that find themselves with absolute power. We shall soon see if members of the party in power realize that or repeat the mistakes of countless others.

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