Big Labor and Big Business are teaming up to protect Big Government. As Greg Sargent put it yesterday, in describing the budding alliance between the AFL-CIO and the Chamber of Commerce: "The two groups rarely agree on anything, and frequently target each other in the harshest of terms, but one thing they agree on is that they don't want the House GOP to make good on its threat to subject highway and mass-transit programs to budget cuts."
This is a golden opportunity for Republican lawmakers and the 2012 contenders. Independent voters mistrust both government and Wall Street, and the sight of those entities in cahoots with organized labor should alarm them as well as Tea Partyers.
Then you have to add into the mix the cast of characters in the White House. There is William Daley, whom Michael Crowley at Time describes as follows:
Daley, 62, is an archetypal face of the 1990s pro-business wing of the Democratic Party. He joined the Clinton administration in 1993 with the specific mission of helping the president pass the North American Free Trade Agreement over strong opposition from labor and Congressional liberals. As Commerce Secretary Daley also led the fight for permanent normal trade relations with China, also anathema to the unions. Labor animus was so great that, when Al Gore named Daley his 2000 presidential campaign manager in 2000, AFL-CIO president John Sweeney declared Daley's positions had put him "squarely on the opposite side of working families." (Daley may be best remembered from that campaign for his dramatic appearance onstage at 3:10 am on election night in Nashville to declare that Gore had called George W. Bush and withdrawn his earlier concession in anticipation of a recount.)
Since then Daley has been making a handsome living as a corporate executive, most recently on the executive board of J.P. Morgan Chase & Co and on the boards of several other big corporations, including Boeing and the giant drug maker Merck.
Republicans were quick to point out that Daley was on the board of Fannie Mae, the government-owned mortgage lender that contributed mightily to the financial meltdown. And they quickly went to the files to remind voters that only last October liberal Senators Al Franken (D-Minn.) and Robert Menendez (D-N.J.) were going after Daley's former employer and other banks for " routinely filed false affidavits, triggering thousands of illegal foreclosures on unwitting homeowners in Minnesota and across the country."
You then have stories like this one, which was picked up by MSNBC last month. The headline says it all: "Wind at their backs: Powerful Democrats help Chinese energy firm chase stimulus money." The details should make even the most ardent Democrat cringe:
Nor does it help when the president deems his departing press secretary's $172,000 salary "modest." Call it a slip of the tongue, but it bespeaks a mindest at odds with the Democrats' "help the little guy" messaging.
Top Democratic fundraisers and lobbyists with links to the White House are behind a proposed wind farm in Texas that stands to get $450 million in stimulus money, even though a Chinese company would operate the farm and its turbines would be built in China.
The farm's backers also have close ties with Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., who, at the height of his hard-fought re-election bid this fall, helped blunt congressional criticism over stimulus dollars possibly going to create jobs in China by endorsing a proposal by the Chinese company to build a factory in his home state. Although his campaign received thousands of dollars in donations from the wind farm's backers and Reid stood on stage with them at a campaign event they hosted, his office declined to answer any questions about the wind farm's organizers or their plans for Nevada.
Not every liberal is tone deaf on this phenomenon. Over at Salon, Alex Pareene writes:
The smarter conservatives already claim -- with some evidence -- that the White House and the Democratic Party are pawns of the big banks, or that Big Government and Big Business are in a mutually beneficial corrupt relationship. . . . Picking the JPMorgan Chase exec -- who sat on Fannie Mae's board -- doesn't prove the president loves unfettered free markets, it "proves" that the elites are still enriching themselves at the expense of everyone else.
And let's not forget that the same Democrats who are cheering Daley's arrival are still defending the individual mandate, the gift to Big Insurance that delivers unwilling customers to their doorstep. (Free market conservatives and principled liberals have made this point.)
Put it all together and it is a political train wreck ready to happen. It just might not occur until November of 2012.
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