If you’re looking for proof that President Barack Obama has lost his luster with his voter base, two of his traditional big donors – labor unions and Hollywood — are taking a tentative look at supporting the Democratic Party with big money.
While the AFL-CIO will certainly support Obama and Democrats, they are not generating the kind of money that Democratic presidential candidates are used to receiving. And they certainly are not as enthusiastic as they were in 2008, when unions gave $400 million to Obama and congressional Democrats.
Last year, labor political action committees gave federal Democratic candidates and committees $21 million. But this was 20 percent from the same period in the 2008 election cycle, according to a Chicago Tribune story
Consider the irony that Obama faces. He has given labor unions everything they have asked for, and more, particularly in Detroit, and they still want more.
In the 2009 bailout, Chrysler and GM received about $60 billion between them. Besides preventing the auto companies from going into organized bankruptcy, Obama essentially gave control of the companies to the trade unions. The foxes guarding the hen house analogy comes quickly to mind.
Now they are withholding their financial support until they can squeeze out more concessions from the Obama administration. Unions are demanding that America get into a trade war with China over the price of imported auto parts.
Do you want to know why the U.S. can’t compete with China over auto parts pricing? Yep, you guessed it. Because trade union salaries and benefits which are not in line with other U.S. industries are driving up the costs of production.
Unions also are angry at Obama for passing the South Korea, Colombia and Panama free trade agreements, which are expected to increase U.S. exports by at least $13 billion and add at least $10 billion to U.S. Gross Domestic Product per year. Most importantly, these trade agreements could create 250,000 U.S. jobs.
This also does not take into account the impact it will have on the more than 80 percent of U.S. exporters to South Korea, Colombia, and Panama who are small and medium-sized enterprises that exported $12 billion to those countries in 2008.
Here again, the duplicity of unions comes into play. They seem to ignore the U.S. jobs that will be created because of these agreements since they won’t all be union jobs. In this economy, with some 25 million Americans unemployed and underemployed, can we afford to turn our backs on the creation of good paying jobs? That seems selfish and self-serving to me.
So Obama has found out what other presidents have found out: if you play with unions, they will burn you.
The word is that unions are not writing large checks to the Democratic Party. Instead, they are seeking more independence and leverage, by financing their own initiatives, such as beating back candidates that they believe don’t support their agenda. They are also starting their own super PACS. Before the advent of super PACS in 2008, union PACS gave $73 million directly to candidates, 92 percent of which went to Democrats.
Yes, unions will support Obama this year, but the Democratic Party is not likely to see the full court press they saw in 2008. That’s good news for Republicans who are amassing unprecedented contributions in their super PACS.
How successful are Republican super PACS? Democrats are trying to end them because they can’t keep up with the numbers. Yet, Democrats have no concerns about the millions they get from labor unions who want to make it easier to unionize by scrapping the secret ballot.
And Democrats aren’t likely to eliminate the contributions from trial lawyers, who overwhelmingly support their candidates, which want to make it easier to win huge settlements for frivolous lawsuits therefore driving up insurance premiums.
After all, both of these special interests hurt our job creators in serious and significant ways.
If Republicans are looking for more good news, it’s that the traditional liberal Democratic base in Hollywood is sitting on the sidelines. Unlike the Republicans, the Hollywood crowd isn’t enamored with super PACs, and are not donating big money to the Obama super PAC and to the Democratic Party.
That’s not to say that Obama won’t receive their support. Hollywood celebs will give individual donations, but the limit is controlled by election laws, unlike super PACS.
The loss of financial support among two traditional Democratic power bases should embolden Republicans and their donors. Republicans are finding renewed fundraising success through super PACS and other means, and when the Republican nominee is ultimately selected (which will be Mitt Romney), he will need the financial power to get the Republican message out to defeat Obama.
The Democratic Party is vulnerable this election. Americans need to seize the initiative and get this ship of state headed in the right direction. We need a president who is more concerned about job creation and the plight of the common man than about job preservation of a Democratic administration.
More Posts by Neal Asbury
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