The left corralled a variety of groups with conflicting interests into a coalition using a combination of bribes, threats and promises. Everyone from the NAACP to unions to the labor movement to gay rights groups climbed on board and backed Obama Inc. to the hilt, but now patience may finally be wearing thin.
Labor leaders who have spent months lobbying unsuccessfully for special protections under the Affordable Care Act warned this week that the White House’s continued refusal to help is dampening union support for Democratic candidates in this year’s midterm elections.
Leaders of two major unions, including the first to endorse Obama in 2008, said they have been betrayed by an administration that wooed their support for the 2009 legislation with promises to later address the peculiar needs of union-negotiated insurance plans that cover millions of workers.
Their complaints reflect a broad sense of disappointment among many labor leaders, who say the Affordable Care Act has subjected union health plans to new taxes and mandates while not allowing them to share in the subsidies that have gone to private insurance companies competing on the newly created exchanges.
Unlike the NAACP, labor unions are more united and organized and less dependent on Third Party cash. And that means that they have options.
Already, the Laborers’ International Union has established warm relations with one potential GOP presidential candidate, Chris Christie, endorsing his 2013 reelection as New Jersey’s governor. The union gave $300,000 to the Republican Governors Association, now headed by Christie. And there have been preliminary discussions between labor officials and aides to the governor over a possible appearance by Christie at a union convention.
While labor unions aren’t going to go Full Republican, they are going Part Republican by donating to GOP Congressional candidates benefiting from the lack of a common agenda in the Republican Party. Even some unlikely suspects, such as teachers’ unions are focusing on the GOP.
The obvious reason is that a midterm surge is expected. And unions are smart and organized enough to do what black voters aren’t doing, show that they have options.
While a GOP-labor alliance would seem implausible, we are witnessing a GOP-amnesty coalition that makes even less sense and has fewer rewards. Considering that the GOP’s fiscal reform talk has been mainly empty talk, it makes as much or as little sense as anything else. A lot of union members already vote to the right, that is in actual working unions, not SEIU.
And finally, with the GOP leadership increasingly talking about replacing rather than repealing ObamaCare, labor leaders may be thinking that they can get what they want more easily through that door.