Some years ago, a seasoned observer of the Washington scene commented to me, “A month is a lifetime in D.C.” I was reminded of this truism last week when Scott Brown was elected.
The “EFCA is coming” crowd finally breathed again for the first time in months. Even IAM President Buffenbarger had said EFCA was a “dead issue” for 2010, although AFL-CIO legislative leader Bill Samuel was still holding out hope for passage, consistent with federation president Trumka’s prediction that EFCA will be enacted in the first quarter of 2010.
I don’t know what will happen. While it seems likely EFCA, or a scaled-down “EFCA-lite”, will not passed in any form, it also had seemed likely that a Democrat would be elected to fill Senator Kennedy’s seat. Indeed, it had seemed likely that Senator Clinton would be her party’s candidate for President, heavily favored to defeat Senator McCain.
The fact is no one knows for certain what is really going to happen. Power shifts quickly in D.C., producing uncertainty that worries many thoughtful business leaders today.
We do know, however:
· President Obama is pro-labor.
· SEIU head Andy Stern has visited the White House 28 times.
· Labor’s share of the private sector workforce is now down to 7.2%, another significant membership loss over the previous number.
· Labor Secretary Solis, pointing to the declining union membership, said this underscores why EFCA continues to have the Administration’s support.
· If Labor is going to exercise more clout in the political process based on the Supreme Court’s recent campaign finance decision, it needs more (not less) members for campaign “donations.”
· The Democratic Party is by far the largest beneficiary of Labor’s spending.
· Democrats are in electoral trouble.
· It is in the best interest of Labor and their beneficiaries to create conditions enabling the benefactors to give more.
· Therefore, Labor-dependent politicians will continue to help find ways for unions to increase their membership.
· Craig Becker was re-nominated to the NLRB immediately after Mr. Brown was elected.
· Almost no one paid attention to any of this, of course, since “EFCA is dead.”
A lifetime in Washington is all the sweeter when policy and political fortune are so mutually sustaining — especially if it lasts more than month.