- The Washington Times - Thursday, July 28, 2005

Anyone who doubts that the Democratic Party has nearly become a wholly owned subsidiary of Big Labor bosses should take a look at the roll-call votes on trade issues in the House of Representatives since Bill Clinton entered the White House in 1993.

Forty percent of the Democratic caucus voted for the North American Free Trade Agreement in 1993 despite strong AFL-CIO opposition. In a lame-duck session following the historic Republican victory in the 1994 congressional elections, nearly two thirds of the caucus voted for the World Trade Organization. Six years later, 35 percent of Democratic representatives still managed to vote to grant China permanent normal trade relations.

In 2002, however, only 25 Democrats (12 percent of the caucus) voted to give President Bush trade-promotion authority. This week, only 15 Democrats voted for the Central American Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA). That represents less than 8 percent of the caucus.

The Big Labor bosses vociferously opposed CAFTA, just as they opposed the above bills. Compared to the 1990s, however, the Democratic Party has now clearly gotten the Big Labor’s message. Having funneled hundreds and hundreds of millions of dollars to the Democratic Party from unionized workers’ paychecks, the bosses have turned the Democratic Party into an aggressively protectionist party.

Given that 38 percent of union members themselves voted for President Bush, Big Labor’s outright purchase of the Democratic Party has to rank as one of the biggest scams (and bargains) in American political history. (They’re spending their members’ money, remember, not their own.)

The bosses are understandably upset that voters have consigned the Democratic Party to minority status in Congress for the past decade. Unfortunately, Democrats will not always be in the minority. And the Big Labor bosses will be there to collect on the investment of their members’ money.

This week’s AFL-CIO implosion, in which the Teamsters and the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) have bolted the labor federation, must be viewed in the context of Big Labor’s ascendancy in the party. It had little to do with spending on organizing and less on the Democratic Party. Compared to what Big Labor funnels to the Democrats, the increase in union-organizing funds demanded by the SEIU, the Teamsters and other dissident unions amounted to a rounding error. Once the dissidents realized that they could not achieve power at the AFL-CIO at the ballot box, they bolted.

The financial impact on the Democratic Party has been hugely exaggerated. Regrettably, both labor factions will continue to funnel their members’ hard-earned wages into a Democratic Party that will increasingly march to Big Labor’s protectionist tune.



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