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The 527 Approach

July 19, 2010

Ever since the Supreme Court lifted restrictions on the ability of corporations to engage in the political process, we’ve been waiting for a response from the New York business community. 

The New York Post wrote about that overdue response today, describing a nascent effort by downstate business interests to form a 527 organization to counter the Working Families Party and the state’s all-powerful unions.   

This is a positive development that the Post, for once, isn’t overdramatizing. In this regard, Fred Dicker quotes an unnamed person saying that if the (supposedly more business-friendly) Republicans don’t recapture the Senate this fall, there’s a sense that “it will be all over with the Legislature as far as the business community is concerned.” 

This particular sentiment has been building for some time, but the final straws may have been two matters that we wrote about recently – a bill to limit “political communication” by corporations, but not unions; and a bill to require private entities like utilities and Business Improvement Districts (BIDS) to pay prevailing wages. These two bills and others were gifts to organized labor in an election year. 

It’s no exaggeration to say that business leaders believe that the Dems are openly hostile to their interests. Of course, formation of this organization won’t solve that problem, but it is a beginning.

What really needs to happen to balance the power of the unions in New York is for business interests to unite upstate and down around a series of specific job creation measures. The jobs theme is the key to winning public support and then legislative support from both parties. Some historical perspective is important here: While it is true that the Dems have been atrocious to business interests in recent years, it’s not like the Senate Republicans were that much better when they were in power. Senate Republicans bent over backwards for SEIU 1199 and other unions.

Still, the Republicans usually could be counted on to block the most blatant pro-labor initiatives, and that’s what business leaders remember. 

If Republicans do recapture the majority with business support, the hope is that the state will have a more forward-looking approach, or at least a less hostile one.    

In a related note, the fact that Dicker was reporting this story probably means that the Cuomo camp is associated with the move in some fashion. It’s a smart move on their part. It will help provide resources and another voice in support of Cuomo’s agenda next year.

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