Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Heckuva Job, Arlen!

And just like that... the fight to pass for the Employee Free Choice Act just got exponentially more difficult:
Sen. Arlen Specter (R-PA) just dealt a big blow to the labor movement by announcing publicly that he would support a GOP filibuster of the Employee Free Choice Act (EFCA), unions' No. 1 priority for this year and a subject of intense lobbying on both sides of the aisle.

"My vote on this bill is very difficult for many reasons," Specter said in a Senate floor speech, minutes after the news was broken by the Washington Independent. "It is very hard to disappoint many friends ... who are urging me to vote their way."

But Specter affirmed that he would join his fellow Republicans to block cloture on EFCA, effectively dooming the union-organizing bill's chances of becoming law in its current form. The Pennsylvania senator, who faces a tough re-election challenge from the right, was the only GOPer to support breaking his party's filibuster on EFCA when it last came up for a vote two years ago.

The evolution of Specter's positions on the bill are just about as openly politically calculated as you can get. Specter was a Cosponsor of the bill who voted for cloture when the it came up in 2007. Since Specter is a Republican, he faced immense pressure to switch sides on the matter, and yesterday he finally caved, just about ending all hopes of the bill's passage.

The only (and I mean ONLY) positive to take from this, was that while he thought he was pulling some sort of cunning political move, voting no on EFCA should end Specter's career as Senator in 2010. Specter won his primary in 2004 by 2 points over his ultra conservative challenger, Club for Growth president Pat Toomey. Well, Toomey's running again in 2010, and Specter is less popular now than he ever was among Pennsylvania Republicans. A poll released the same day as the EFCA announcement(amazing coincidence!) showed incumbent senator trailing Toomey by 14 points. But if Specter was foolish enough to think that screwing over his state's workers at the last minute would be enough to save him, he's got another thing coming:

Conservative groups and politicians, far from won over by Specter’s announcement, continue to hammer away at the embattled Senator, suggesting that his abrupt move on EFCA will do little or nothing to reduce his vulnerability to a primary challenge from the right.

For instance, Specter’s announcement drew only mockery and scorn from former GOP Rep. Ernest Istook, the chair of the anti-EFCA group Save Our Secret Ballot.

“Specter enjoys being the center of attention,” Istook said. “There has probably been more money spent to influence his vote on this issue than on any other vote, from any other senator, at any other time. He wants to continue enjoying the attention and the fundraising opportunity.”

Doug Stafford of the anti-EFCA National Right to Work Committee added in a statement that Specter’s move should be “viewed with some skepticism,” adding that other labor-oriented proposals championed by Specter remain “totally unacceptable” and will enable “Big Labor to corral more workers into forced unionism.”

Specter’s potential primary challenger, Club for Growth president Pat Toomey, has kept up the attacks, blasting Specter’s vote for the “big government stimulus bill” and dismissing Specter’s opposition to EFCA as merely the result of “a threat in the Republican primary.”

It's not like this was Specter's only choice. He could have backed Employee Free Choice, run as an independent with Labor's support and easily won re-election. Instead he chose to screw over the working class, and then be unceremoniously dumped on his ass by the people he was desperately trying to appease. Karmic Justice, I guess.


  1. Oh, Pat Toomey. I could write a book about that menace to society.

  2. Toomey's challenge reminds me of the quote from either Hamsher or Kos back when they started accountability now:

    "It will be like the club for Growth, but not stupid."

  3. A friend of mine was on the Hill organizing the UFCWs to lobby their representatives when this happened. I hope that jerk wins his primary and loses the election anyway.

  4. Kari Baby, when JN started his attack on you on one of the other pages of this crap, I got worried that they might have dumped you. Thanks for posting.

  5. Just think Kari Baby, they go after those with glasses first!

    Never forget that, Kari, they go after those who wear glasses first!