Sen. Arlen Specter, self-described "decisive vote," announces his opposition to the Employee Free Choice Act. Does it effectively kill the bill this year? Yes, unless you can think of another Republican who will vote for it. Is this a good idea for Republicans? No, actually. It's a gamble: Despite the political climate and some surprising noises from Connecticut, odds still are that the Democrats will have a net gain of at least one seat in the upper chamber in 2010 -- the map favors them and the NRSC has had a tough time recruiting solid candidates. (Usual disclaimers for political prognostication apply).

It would be better for conservatives to force some kind of compromise on the legislation now than see it go through completely intact in two years. But that's where an opposition mentality will get you: a deep bias toward short-term political wins (EFCA is presumably finished for two years, although I await replies from labor sources to hear how they plan to get around this setback) over long-term policy movement. Specter himself may not make it through the 2010 elections unscathed; even if he survives his primary, the lack of union support that will result from this decision could be deeply problematic in the general election.

-- Tim Fernholz

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