Sunday, June 25, 2006
Sue Kelly Flip Flops: Part III - What Makes Sue Flip-Flop?
In Part II, we looked at the bait-and-switch scheme that had a much weaker bill substitute in the House, under a rule which ensured that even the weaker bill would fail, while preserving the false appearance that many members, including Sue, had been supporting labor.
Now let’s try to figure out: Why Sue would bother in the first place?
This writer suggests that there are three factors at work:
1) Sue gets a lot of campaign cash for being on the Aviation Committee.
2) Some of that campaign cash is, in fact, from the labor union that probably expected her to be at least sympathetic to its cause.
3) It’s an election year, and people are watching, to see if Sue’s been naughty or nice. And, as shown in Part II, she’s figured out how to be naughty while pretending to be nice.
Let’s take a closer look.
First, what is it worth to Sue to be on the Aviation Committee? Looking at the current cycle only, Sue’s received over $17,000 in direct contributions from participants in the civil aviation industry. Indirect contributions are something else again. For example, the Air Transport Association PAC, American Airlines PAC, Delta Airlines PAC and Northwest Airlines PAC all contribute inconspicuously by giving through such imaginatively named intermediaries as the “Committee for the Preservation of Capitalism”, “Keep Our Majority PAC” and “Rely On Your Beliefs Fund”, each of which then contributes to Sue’s re-election fund.
Second, some of that cash came from the very union that cared the most about getting a fair bill to give its bargaining with the FAA some sense of reality: the National Air Traffic Controllers Association Political Action Committee (“NATCAPAC”). In fact, NATCAPAC gave Sue Kelly six separate contributions totaling $10,000. (That’s a magic number, and we’ll come back to it in the next point.)
And so, with great fanfare, Sue Kelly issued one of her self-congratulatory press releases, on February 15, 2006, proclaiming:
“Congresswoman Sue Kelly (R-NY-19) and Congressman Jerry Costello (D-IL-12) today introduced the Federal Aviation Administration Fair Labor Management Dispute Resolution Act to correct inequities in the current contract negotiating process between the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and the National Air Traffic Controllers’ union.”
Her release further stated that it was very important to do this because:
More than 70 percent of the air traffic controller workforce is scheduled to retire during the next 10 years, the lawmakers noted. It is imperative that efforts to recruit the best new controllers possible are not undermined by an unfair contract negotiation process, they said
But then, Sue sense of political reality intrudes. It’s an election year. This legislation would interfere with the power of a federal agency, and the government belongs to the Republicans. Sue needs all the help her party, and its various campaign funds, and its ability to control the agenda and manipulate the votes in Congress, can give her. On the other hand, her loyalty to her friends at NATCA PAC has already run out. You see, with $10,000 already in Sue’s campaign coffers from NATCA PAC, she can’t get any more money from NATCA PAC this cycle: NATCA PAC has “maxed out.” Poor NATCA PAC.
And so, Sue goes through the pretense of helping organized labor, by offering Kelly-Costello, HR 4755. Then quietly abandoning it, to revert to her real stance, which is generally anti-labor. (What, Sue anti-labor? Yes. When the AFL-CIO rated members of Congress for pro- or anti-labor votes in 2005, Sue earned a miserable 20%: she voted anti-labor on twelve of fifteen key votes. )
But with enough legislative legerdemain, I guess Sue’s been able to fool enough of the people enough of the time.
And now you know why Sue flip-flops.