SMERCONISH: Might labor off set this? I ask the question because the Wall Street Journal reported today that organized labor groups spend a lot more on politics than previous estimates would have you believe–about four times more. According to the Journal:
Previous estimates have focused on labor unions’ filings with federal election officials, which chronicle contributions made directly to federal candidates and union spending in support of candidates for Congress and the White House. But unions spend far more money on a wider range of political activities, including supporting state and local candidates and deploying what has long been seen as the unions’ most potent political weapon: persuading members to vote as unions want them to…the result is that labor could be a stronger counterweight than commonly realized to super PACs that today raise millions from wealthy donors, in many cases to support Republican candidates and causes.
Truth to that: Could labor be your saving grace?
SEN. SHERROD BROWN: I’m a subscriber to the Wall Street Journal. I picked it up in my driveway in Ohio today—that article caught my attention, of course. Keep in mind, they said more money from labor than they thought there was combined by labor. It’s not more from money from all the billionaires combined by a long shot. Labor plays a role, but labor can only compete a dollar for every five or ten when you have the Koch brothers and you have Adelson and Exxon and these big companies that outsource them. They’re worth tens and tens and tens and tens of billions–labor can’t do anything like that. Labor’s very good at talking to their members and when you talk about voting the way labor wants, you’re talking about elected labor union leaders who are setting the agenda for labor, just like people vote for political figures, so labor can’t compete at this level; labor’s going to help try to fight back against some of this. You know, you’re looking at a bunch of people paying union dues of maybe $100 or $150 a month or a couple hundred a month. It’s not even a comparison. The Wall Street Journal, which is is a pretty conservative newspaper—factually, they’re generally good, but a pretty conservative newspaper of course puts that on the front page. It was well written, it was well researched, but there was some bias in the direction of that article making it look like they could compete on an even playing field with the Koch brothers when they can’t.