Commentary Magazine


Isn’t Big Labor A Special Interest Group?

As the Democratic presidential candidates jostle for the title of most subservient to the whims of Big Labor, there are some pushback efforts. Not by John McCain, but by independent groups and individuals. On the moribund Colombia free trade agreement, James Baker chides Congress:

As recently as December, Congress displayed the type of bipartisan leadership that Americans desire when it ratified a free trade agreement with Peru that is very similar to the one proposed for Colombia. And yet, this spring, the world is watching to determine if the United States will remain committed to embracing a free-market global economy, or display a growing isolationist attitude that can befuddle and vex our allies around the world.

And what about the pet project of Big Labor–doing away with secret ballot elections in unions–which both Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton support? Not much from the McCain camp on this one. However, there is a very vivid and funny ad by the business group Coalition for a Democratic Workplace that pushes back on the notion that secret ballots are good enough for politicians but not unions.

What is the lesson here? For a candidate like Barack Obama who rails about special interests (which, in his taxonomy, kill all the good ideas), it might be worth pointing out that helping a democratic ally and promoting free trade and secret ballots are “good ideas.” Which this particular interest group is, through its supplicants in Congress, seeking to kill.