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    Labor holds nose, backs former foes

    10/31/2010

    Democracy and Power 110:  Majority Leader of the Senate and the Speaker of the House

    The Speaker of the House is selected by political party with the majority of the Members. Upon election, the Speaker controls the process and substance of the legislation in the House. 

    Thus, when a citizen votes for their Member of Congress they are also supporting the Member’s party.  Reiterating, a citizen votes for the Member and the Member’s party as it relates to constituting the majority, and the power to control legislation.

    Labor holds nose, backs former foes

    With elections approaching, Glenn Thrush of Politico describes the power plays to secure the majority.

    Most all of the prognosticators foresee a possible Republican take over of the House.  This will have significant repercussions on the power players; i.e., big business and big unions, and both are spending big money to influence the outcome.  Thrush estimates big business with the aid of the Chamber of Commerce and Karl Rove are spending as much as the Democrats and their union supporters.

    Intriguingly, the unions had sought to punish some Democratic Members of Congress that had not complied with the Democratic agenda.  Thrush writes:

    Big Labor’s big threat to punish misbehaving Democrats has largely evaporated in the heat of the midterms, as unions now scramble to rescue incumbents they once pilloried for opposing health care reform.

    It’s a bitter, but necessary, political pill, considering that would-be Speaker John Boehner, the top Republican in the House, has threatened to roll back many of the pro-union policies of President Barack Obama and congressional Democrats.

    Immediately, all that matters to big business or big labor is that their party - Republican or Democrat - is in the majority.  Thrush quotes a labor union official, emphasizing that 218 votes in the House constitutes a majority:

    We’re at a situation now where it’s the 218 strategy in the House: If you don’t have the gavel, if you don’t have 218, you are in serious doo-doo,” says Larry Scanlon, political director of AFSCME, which recently took out a $2 million loan to cover election expenses.

    “The situation is, will you support a mediocre Democrat, [or] will you let a rabid Republican get in?” he said. “For us, it’s a no-brainer. ... Once you get back into session, we’re going to be trying to move people on votes. But right now, we’re all about getting people elected.”

    Fortunately, there is another political force arising.  Over the past few years, the Independent voter and Tea Party activist have been questioning the politics of power in Washington, D.C., “Is this good governance?  Is this good for America?  Is this good for my future and my family’s future?”

     Next Tuesday, Independents and Tea Party activists will be very important participants in deciding which party has the majority and which party controls the legislative process.