The problem, from labor's point of view, is that Obama needs the business community's support to pass his first priority: a massive economic recovery package, as much as $850 billion in infrastructure projects and middle class tax cuts. And if there's one item atop the business community's agenda this year, it is to defeat EFCA — also known as card check, since it would replace secret ballots with cards. "The Obama administration wants to pass the stimulus and they need the business community to do that," says Randy Johnson, vice president for labor issues at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, which represents three million U.S. businesses. "Trying to pass card check would be like declaring a nuclear war with the business community. It'd be Armageddon."
What leverage does the Chamber of Commerce actually have? In what way does Obama "need" their support to pass an economic recovery package? Unfortunately Newton-Small never bothers to provide an answer to these rather obvious follow-up questions.
Barack Obama is enormously popular. He is working with large majorities in the House and Senate. The public broadly supports an economic recovery package. There is little debate amongst economists about the need for such a package The business community needs economic stimulus.
Where exactly is the Chamber of Commerce expecting to apply pressure? Would they really attempt to block passage of a massively popular economic package in order to extract concessions over EFCA? Assuming that they, and the GOP members of Congress, are willing to play chicken with the economy and further alienate the public how exactly would they go about doing it? They have zero instiutional power and are badly outnumbered in the House and Senate. A fillibuster is a posssibility but I can't imagine the Democrats having much trouble getting a handful of GOP Senators to cross over and vote for rescuing the economy.
It would be incredibly stupid for Obama and Democrats to pass EFCA first thing out of the box First things first should be passage and signing of the economic recovery package. That makes for good policy and good politics. Democrats though should not be afraid of idle threats from the Chamber of Commerce, they're bluffing. They've got nothing.