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The Big Payoff


SEIU president Andy Stern famously said, “We spent a fortune to elect Barack Obama — $60.7 million to be exact — and we’re proud of it.” As James Pethokoukis points out, even before you factor in card check, the unions are getting a good return on their money:

… the card check bill has struggled mightily on Capitol Hill and could clearly use a boost from the White House. Still, the president didn’t speak its name in Lordstown and devoted just a single sentence in Pittsburgh. Is that any way to treat the folks who poured tens of millions of dollars into Democratic campaigns last year?

Maybe not, but you didn’t hear any booing. Heck, there probably wasn’t even a slight grumble given the myriad ways Obama has already helped his union allies. His stimulus package helped prevent layoffs of many government union workers, while key provisions serve to prop up union wages on infrastructure projects. His restructuring of the American auto industry left the United Auto Workers with a majority stake of Chrysler and a fifth of General Motors for the price of relatively minor pay and benefit concessions. And his healthcare reform looks to bolster underfunded union retiree benefit plans, while avoiding taxes that would hit pricey union insurance packages.

Then, of course, there is Obama’s decision to impose a 35 percent tariff on imported tires from China, much applauded by Big Labor. As the AFL-CIO put it, “The trade decision was the president’s first down payment on his promise to more effectively enforce trade laws.”

To that, I would add that the administration opposes already-negotiated trade agreements with Colombia and South Korea at the behest of organized labor, and that it has made no progress toward ending a costly trade war with Mexico over the issue of long-haul trucking, which began when Democrats in Congress, at the behest of the Teamsters, reneged on our agreement under NAFTA to allow Mexican truckers across the border.


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