Obama Joins the Fray in Wisconsin: Governor Says Butt Out
posted at 12:18 pm on February 18, 2011 by Howard Portnoy
Although there is little that the two warring ideologies in the nation can agree on these days, one commonality seems to be a dislike for anything with the modifier big. A recent poll from the Pew Research Center shows that the nation’s approval ratings of big business and big labor have both been trending downward over the last decade. At present, only about 45% of Americans have a favorable view of unions, a rating that ties a quarter-century low.
This can’t be encouraging news for union members in Wisconsin, who have descended on the Capitol to express their disaffection with the belt-tightening strategies of newly elected Governor ScottWalker. It can’t be good news either for the high-visibility public figure who injected himself into the debate on the side of big labor—President Obama.
Never one to mince words, even when it would be prudent to do so, Obama accused Walker of an “assault” on unions in calling for legislation that would limit collective-bargaining agreements. Speaking to a Milwaukee television reporter, Obama said:
Some of what I’ve heard coming out of Wisconsin, where they’re just making it harder for public employees to collectively bargain generally, seems like more of an assault on unions. I think everybody’s got to make some adjustments, but I think it’s also important to recognize that public employees make enormous contributions to our states and our citizens.
The governor, also evidently not one to mince words, had a few choice ones of his own for the president, telling FOX News:
I think we’re focused on balancing our budget. It would be wise for the president and others in Washington to focus on balancing their budget, which they’re a long ways from doing.
Indeed! Apart from the impropriety of the president becoming embroiled in a state budget resolution issue, if he is going to meddle, he could at least give the illusion of impartiality. He might, for example, want to interfere in the affairs of New York State, whose Democratic governor is considering an even more extreme measure—namely, cutting 15,000 state jobs.
In addition, if the president plans to referee every state battle over a budget shortfall, he may little time for anything else. Ohio is considering restrictions on union representation similar to the ones being called for in Wisconsin.
The battle lines are being drawn. This is a war the president might do well to sit out.