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Specter & 'card check': Politics as usual

Did Arlen Specter really come to his senses over the deceptively titled Employee Free Choice Act, a piece of legislation loaded with sops to union chicanery• Or is it just another in a long line of sneaky political calculations from Pennsylvania's senior U.S. senator?

Clearly, it's the latter.

The "card-check bill" would eliminate the secret ballot in union-organizing efforts. Worse, it also creates a binding arbitration process allowing government to set wage rates.

Specter, however, is in a bind. Support card check and he angers the business community he'll need in the 2010 primary in his likely and difficult rematch against Pat Toomey. Oppose card check and he honks off the organized labor lobby he'll need in the general election.

But Democrats really don't need the Philadelphia Republicrat. Specter says that by the time any actual voting occurs, Al Franken will have been certified the winner of the Minnesota Senate race. "Card check" will have all the votes it needs.

Should Specter survive next year's primary, he'll employ that rationalization for the fall campaign. In fact, should Specter win renomination, count on him to say he's "reconsidered" this week's decision. He'll then break out an even larger screwdriver and even longer screw against business to win back union support.

After all, that's Arlen being Arlen, who never lets principles get in the way of politics.

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