Somehow, the prospect of a double-dip recession has only caused the left to double-down on its delusion.

In their minds, Standard & Poor’s downgrade is unrelated to the years of runaway federal spending and fiscal impropriety – it’s merely a statement about the heated politics of the moment, driven largely by Tea Party divisiveness/obstructionism/extremism. In comparison to these mental gymnasts, President Obama’s halfhearted suggestions we may have to do something about entitlements almost look responsible and self-aware.

That could all change if the national labor unions succeed at recalling six Republican state senators today in Wisconsin.

Because as inadequate as Obama’s economic proposals have been, the unions have tried to pressure him into taking positions that would be even more disastrous. The one decent recommendation Obama’s presented so far – enacting job-promoting foreign trade agreements – is fiercely opposed by Big Labor. The unions want no entitlement reductions, more stimulus spending, and crippling taxes on private businesses.

Obama hasn’t exactly fought against these ideas, but by sitting on the sidelines of the economic debate, he’s drawn the ire of the labor movement. While the unions reportedly raised close to $400 million to help elect Obama in 2008, they’re now turning their backs on him. According to reports, the AFL-CIO isn’t planning to contribute to his 2012 campaign, and will instead work to advance its own agenda items with the left-wing grassroots.

Which is why a massive display of national union power – especially if it includes a lot of grassroots engagement – could embolden the movement and create a big problem for Obama. The president has counted on the unions to eventually fall in line once Republicans choose a nominee. But labor has a ton of feet on the ground and money to burn in the upcoming election, and if they decide to use these tools to pressure the president to the left, then he’ll have to make a tough decision. Either reject the demands of the unions, and risk their wrath and the political influence they hold with his base. Or tack to the left and lose both independent voters and the economy.

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