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What Is It About “60″ they Don’t Understand?

Roll Call reports, “Labor leaders are giving President Barack Obama a pass — for now — on his failure to put ‘card check’ legislation at the top of his to-do list, but they are preparing to demand immediate action if Democrat Al Franken is seated as Minnesota’s Senator.” And we hear that Big Labor is preparing some sort of “blitz” on the issue during Congress’s two-week recess.

But to what end is all this fuss? Even the Los Angeles Times conceded that Senate defections have put the bill in “deep trouble.” Arlen Specter has said “no way.” Democrats from Diane Feinstein to Ben Nelson to Mary Landrieu and Balnche Lincoln have given card check supporters the brush off. Even if all of those Democrats were to cave and Al Franken were to gain entry to the Senate, Big Labor would have only 59 votes.

Perpetuating the issue must make those Red state Democrats quite uncomfortable. Would Blanche Lincoln like to run for re-election with card check as a “live” issue or a dead one? Certainly the Republican gubernatorial candidate in Virginia is milking this issue for all it’s worth against three Democratic contenders who would rather change the topic. The seemingly futile crusade of Big Labor also exposes the uncomfortable tension within the White House.

Roll Call reports:

Labor leaders are giving President Barack Obama a pass — for now — on his failure to put “card check” legislation at the top of his to-do list, but they are preparing to demand immediate action if Democrat Al Franken is seated as Minnesota’s Senator.

“President Obama made it very clear he supports” the Employee Free Choice Act, one labor official said. “We take him at his word.”

Obama’s path to victory — not to mention Democrats’ 2006 takeover of Congress — was paved with labor’s support. The unions, in turn, have no greater priority for the president and Congressional Democrats than EFCA, which would provide a boon to labor by making it easier for workers to unionize.

But Obama, since becoming president, has made little mention of legislation that causes fits up and down K Street, where business operatives are waging an unrestrained war to kill it.

[. . .]

Asked about Obama’s position on the bill last week, White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs was unusually terse. “He continues to support the legislation,” Gibbs said.

White House officials maintained their low-key approach when prodded Wednesday on the issue, declining to say anything other than that Obama continues to back the measure.

[. . .]

“We have been assured that at the appropriate time, once Franken is seated, they are looking to be very aggressive,” one labor official said. “They are going to move into a different mode on this.”

Obama will then be asked to become personally involved in the legislative effort, along with his senior aides.

Union officials want the president to try his hand with Republicans, particularly Specter and Sens. Susan Collins and Olympia Snowe. The two moderate Republicans from Maine, viewed as having decent relations with the White House, are seen by labor as among the best shots at the pickup that they desperately need. But they may be long shots.

“I think card check is dead,” one respected Democratic lobbyist said. “There will be no 60th vote unless they change some of the substance of it.”

So Big Labor wants to send Obama on an impossible quest to get votes that aren’t there and make life miserable for conservative and moderate Democrats? At least savvier Democrats recognize how counterproductive all of this may be. (“A lot of House Members do not want to vote on this if it’s not going to happen,” another top Democratic lobbyist said. “If you’re from a moderate or a conservative district, you’ll vote for it if it comes up, but you’re not eager to do it.”)

Republicans remain mystified by all this, but they are abiding by the first law of politics: never interfere when your opponent is doing himself harm. And this entire undertaking seems to offer nothing but trouble for the Democrats.



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