Obama: Wisconsin Gov. Walker waging an ‘assault on unions’

By Sahil Kapur
Thursday, February 17, 2011 10:49 EDT
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WASHINGTON – President Barack Obama took a stand Wednesday against Wisconsin Republican Gov. Scott Walker’s plan to curtail the collective bargaining rights of public employees and force them to pay more for benefits.

Walker’s bill, part of a plan to close Wisconsin’s $137 million budget deficit, was coupled with a threat to call the national guard to fill the duties of state employees if they protest or walk out.

“Some of what I’ve heard coming out of Wisconsin, where you’re just making it harder for public employees to collectively bargain generally seems like more of an assault on unions,” Obama said in an interview with the Milwaukee-based news station TMJ.

The president said he understands the need to make tough spending cuts to balance the budget, but warned against vilifying or singling out public employees.

“And I think it’s very important for us to understand that public employees, they’re our neighbors, they’re our friends. These are folks who are teachers and they’re firefighters and they’re social workers and they’re police officers. They make a lot of sacrifices and make a big contribution. And I think it’s important not to vilify them or to suggest that somehow all these budget problems are due to public employees,” he said.

Walker’s plan drew thousands of protesters near the Wisconsin Capitol on Tuesday and Wednesday. The Associated Press reports that Wisconsin was the first state to grant union rights to government employees over half a century ago.

Walker insisted he was not targeting state employees, depicting his plan as a necessary step to bridge his state’s budget shortfall.

“I’m just trying to balance my budget,” Walker told the New York Times. “To those who say why didn’t I negotiate on this? I don’t have anything to negotiate with. We don’t have anything to give. Like practically every other state in the country, we’re broke. And it’s time to pay up.”

The AFL-CIO responded that Walker “may be suffering from a bit of right wing paranoia about unions.”

“The last time the National Guard was used against public workers was the Postal Workers strike in 1970,” spokesman Mike Hall wrote on the AFL-CIO blog. “The last time the Guard was called out in Wisconsin to quell a labor dispute was the 1934 Kohler strike by the UAW.”

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  • ProgressiveInNewYork

    seems like?
    Come on DINO Obama, stand up for the middle class. The unions have been the back bone of the Democratic party for decades. Are you going to throw them under the bus too in order to get some of your ‘bipartisan ship’ that never sails?
    Call them out. The only media coverage is for right wingers/tea baggers and talking heads. Use your bully pulpit. Stand Up For the Middle Class before it is destroyed completely.

  • Anonymous

    Come on, this is a FDR moment; don’t blow it.

  • Anonymous

    Thanks, Mr. President, but couldn’t you have done this a couple days ago? It’s time for YOU to stop playing footsie with corporations and Wall Street bankers, and start putting your money where your mouth is. You want people to stop attacking the middle class? Then stop giving tax breaks to corporations and the wealthiest, and put policies in place that will raise up the working class instead of the white collar class.

  • Anonymous


  • Anonymous

    Ya really think so Mr. Pres. did you have to consult some of your big business consultants to get that clue?????

  • Anonymous

    There was no budget shortfall until Walker gave goodies to his crony capitalist friends.

  • Anonymous

    The republican party has long wanted to ban unions or at the very least take away their bargaining power. This is the only way the governor can save money? How about cutting tax breaks for the rich? I suppose that is out of the question?

    And for all of those people out there who think unions are the root of all evil let me remind you. First off, if it wasn’t for unions, people would not have a living wage because the manufacturing moguls would not have done it on their own. People gave their lives and were beaten for striking and union organizing. They are the reason we have a living wage and health care. They are why there are safety regulations and enforcement of those regulations. All of this didn’t happen overnight and a lot of people suffered before the moguls were forced to treat the working class like human beings. If it wasn’t for the unions and the people who started them we all would be in slave labor and living in poverty like every other 3rd world country. The American dream would have never existed. The fact that the wealthy have found away to take that dream away due to deregulations, out sourcing, wall street shenanigans and wars that sap America’s economy and union busting, in spite the adverse effect on our country, says an awful lot about what lengths the greedy will go to. They started to try and dismantle the unions in the 70′s and it has been a steady drumbeat ever since. Coincidentally the country has been going down hill since then also, except for the few years during the Clinton Administration. The class war is on and the middle class are moving fast towards the poor class. If the unions don’t stand firm and organize against slime like the Wisc. governor who will? We owe the union organizers a debt of gratitude and the unions are part of the reason America is great!

  • Guest

    Finally he says something!
    Why does he take so long to weigh in??

    It’s the Healthcare Debate all over again.

    He should be calling Walker out on this EVERYDAY!

    “If you don’t stand for something you will fall for anything.”

    -Malcolm X

  • Guest

    “If you don’t stand for something you will fall for anything.”
    -Malcolm X

  • Guest

    If the Healthcare Debate was any indication of this President’s intestinal fortitude for the big fight, don’t look for Obummer to
    “Float like a butterfly and sting like a bee.”
    -Cassius Clay

  • Anonymous

    Was it any coincidence that union growth preceded a rising middle class and union decline preceded a declining middle class?

  • Anonymous

    That’s not all Obama said.

    To Obama: Don’t get upset, or angry at the Rethugs or anything.

  • eve

    This is only the beginning … more to come, watch Ohio!… That Govenor plans the same thing. Who do these Republican Gov think they are? Dictators? This is America, no Iran!

  • Guest

    I’d like to see the Wisconsin National Guard march down from Camp McCoy and take over a kindergarten classroom. Will they be using their M16s and .50 caliber machine guns to maintain classroom decorum?

    Parents of Wisconsin, are you REALLY ready for this?

  • Rush Goofbaugh

    Yes… it’s much like waging an assault on people in foreign countries… So he would know.

  • Anonymous

    Yes, actually, they think they are dictators. Walker is trying to consolidate power, in a state where the only major political voice not under his control is unions. So far his reign has been textbook fascism, taking down elements of people power and kowtowing to the great god of corporate government.

  • Anonymous

    Labor Unions are the democratic associations of workers so they can negotiate wages, working conditions and benefits with the owners on somewhat an equal footing. For Walker and his ilk to attack Unions is a demonstration of their hatred for democracy and free labor. What the unions in Wisconsin are doing is fighting for democracy and American values in a more real way than are the soldiers overseas.

  • frigar

    Gov. Walker is doing the typical Republican thing. Place the burden of his budget problems on the little guy.
    Why can’t he do like Ronald Reagan did…..Raise taxes!

  • Guest

    “Who do these Republican Gov think they are?”

    I think you answered your own question.


    The question should be, ‘who did the VOTERS think they were voting for?’

    If it walks like a duck, sounds like a duck. Guess what?

  • Anonymous

    I thinking you on to something!!!

  • eve

    Sad but true, several residents told me they did not vote…now they are so sorry!…. Well what in the world can we say to that…….. Hope they learned a lesson. really think they have since they are out there trying to do what they can with protesting.I understand they may start a wave to get him impeached. So they said!!!!

  • Anonymous

    Let me ask you psudo Governer Sky-Walker. How is stripping State workers of the right to collectivly bargan, and to deny them the right to have union dues taken out of their pay and the need for all in the Union to pay for their Union. Walker is asking to make it a right of anyone to gain Union Benifits, but not to have to pay if they choose not to. Look, if they gave you the choice to pay for a new car, or get it free, which would you do? That is a direct attack against unions, and nothing to do with the budget.

  • BrainRagYell

    It’s because he keeps giving the opposition the benefit of the doubt.

    An approach I normally support until the opponent proves either incontestably obstinate, childish, or both.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_TX3MXXPF52BXCKGNLDNPADILPQ paul rogers

    “The trouble with socialism is that eventually you run out of other people’s money.”

    -Margaret Thatcher

  • Anonymous

    While we all have a right to criticize the President on whether he spoke too late or didn’t say the right thing we all have to step back and realize there is so much shit he is dealing with that he would have to be a superman to please everyone. That said, imagine President McCain and VP Palin and where would we be today? If that nightmare scenario doesn’t make you scared I don’t know what would. The fox brainwashed dolts are worried about sharia law in the US. President McCain would make me even more scared in dealing with the problems we are facing in this country and the world. And we all know we would be at war with Iran with a draft this very minute.

  • ce2756

    The Republicans happen to LIKE the 1930s. You got a problem with that?
    They think “Grapes of Wrath” was a feel-good comedy.

  • Anonymous

    This bill has NOTHING to do with a budget deficit. Walker has given away more money than he will even save with this bill in the month he has been in office. He sent almost 1 billion in federal government money back in the last few weeks, money the state taxpayers are now on the hook for. He will lose millions in federal funds for transportation systems because of this bill but he could care less. He is waging a public vs private war in Wisconsin to the benefit of corporations. His plan is to privatize state government and he needs to get rid of the unions to do it. He has many corporate sponsors he is beholden to. 2/3 of all business in Wisconsin pay no taxes at all to the state but it is the worker’s fault there is a deficit.

  • Anonymous

    Obama had his chance to support the unions with the card-check legislation. Remember that? Never got passed, the Administration never made it a priority. Never even came up for a vote.

  • http://profiles.yahoo.com/u/PSKROFVS7E4PVTI2CEPLFWEJII John

    Unless the “other people” happen to be the Department of Defense.

    They always make sure the money flows to them and their contractor buddies. The rest of us can virtually eat shit and die.

    Not them. They get all the money….all the time. What they leave behind goes to the bankers.

  • Guest

    I hope they don’t. But here’s a hint:

    FDR told his supporters “Make Me” and he was sincere.
    He couldn’t have achieve our greatness without it.

  • http://profiles.yahoo.com/u/3NVQSZZC5IM66JEOCSFJUV7FCE Jacques G

    Dear Mr. President. As you set about pay cuts and reductions in the Federal workforce, keep in mind those actions as you comment on the idiot Wisconsin governor’s actions. Republicans have been vilifying Public Employees for the past 30 years. California gov’s Pee Wee Wilson, Deukmejian and Schwarzenegger have made it continual practice to attack state workers, while pillaging our pension funds to balance incompetently legislated state budgets. Take a more aggressive stance for defending the MIDDLE CLASS in general. Without Public Employees, you don’t have states, cities or counties. Who else are you going to get to protect your environemt, build your roads, maintain and teach in your schools, fight the fires, protect the citizens, Blackwater? ENRON? BP???.

  • Guest

    Spot on!

  • Anonymous

    Ah, unfortunately impeachment won’t happen, since Republicans control both the Assembly and the Legislature. But hopefully there will be plenty of lawsuits contesting this bill, and maybe we can get enough signatures to have a recall election next January.

  • Anonymous

    And what are you going to do about it, Barry? Are you going to stand with the American people? Are you going to draw a line in the sand and demand the end of conservative attacks on the middle class? Or are you going to stand with the corporate interests and support oligarchy? Your re-election may just depend on your answer.

  • yvonneo

    According to this article, the state budget crisis that Walker is using to justify his actions in this matter is complete bullshit!

    “In its Jan. 31 memo to legislators on the condition of the state’s budget, the Fiscal Bureau determined that the state will end the year with a balance of $121.4 million.

    To the extent that there is an imbalance — Walker claims there is a $137 million deficit — it is not because of a drop in revenues or increases in the cost of state employee contracts, benefits or pensions. It is because Walker and his allies pushed through $140 million in new spending for special-interest groups in January. If the Legislature were simply to rescind Walker’s new spending schemes — or delay their implementation until they are offset by fresh revenues — the “crisis” would not exist.”

    “The Fiscal Bureau memo — which readers can access at http://legis.wisconsin.gov/lfb… — makes it clear that Walker did not inherit a budget that required a repair bill.”


    Walker is attempting to create the illusion that Wisconsin is on the brink of bankruptcy in order to have an excuse to breakup the Unions, but it’s a lie–Wisconsin seems to be doing a lot better than other states. But we can probably expect this kind of deplorable deception by republican governors across the nation if this guy gets by with this bullshit. Beware of the teabaggers/republicans–they’re a sleezy, slimy bunch of mofos.

  • Anonymous

    I don’t understand the comments that say Obama is throwing unions under the bus with these rather strongly worded comments on Walker’s assault on unions. What is he supposed to do: use foul language to make his point, e. g., “Walker is trying to f**k unions”? Maybe people have so lost touch with our language that they do not understand the words?

  • Anonymous

    Anybody heard about the Dems not showing up for the vote in the state senate? They need one Democrat or they can’t vote on the bill.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_QMPOO3PZFN7XV2XZKCGSXXR3WM Joe Somebody

    I think the right-wing proved their intent decades ago. You have to be a special kind of short bus rider to still think they can be reasoned with.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_QMPOO3PZFN7XV2XZKCGSXXR3WM Joe Somebody

    Big hunters here in Wisconsin. I’m waiting for the National Guard to shoot someone.. the Revolution just might start in Wisconsin’s streets.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_QMPOO3PZFN7XV2XZKCGSXXR3WM Joe Somebody

    That shows a very distinct lack of understanding of the word Socialism.

  • Anonymous

    The governor has the sherriffs out looking for the missing democrats to bring them in to vote.

  • Anonymous

    There were tons of tax cuts under those guys.

  • dk504

    Hey Obama where have you been? We have been t this party all fucking WEEK?? NOW you tested the water and you think it’s okay to say something. Jesus man! Grow a set, stand up for the MIDDLE CLASS, for the teachers, for the who need our help, not the fucking uber billionaires.
    When will you back the majority of Americans, not 2%. Do you want to loose 2012? ‘Cause that’s where you’re headed. You had better find a way to get some manufacturing jobs, think solar and wind, in this country AND NOW.

  • Anonymous

    And Martin Luther King and a host of others.

  • Anonymous

    Why isn’t this the big story today? Never mind. I should know by now.

  • Anonymous

    I hope they leave the state.

  • http://mysite.verizon.net/vzepr1xp/index.html unsean

    I understand your ire, but how you make this into Obama’s problem is beyond me. How about sparing some of that anger toward Gov. Scott Walker? I also don’t see what you expect Obama to do about the actions of an individual state, seeing that he’s expressing his disagreement with what’s going on.

    And admittedly I find the ‘non-partisanship’ stuff that Obama is constantly talking about nonsensical, especially in the face of what the Republicans and Tea Baggers are doing.

    That being said, it’s probably not too bad an idea to put more of the blame on Scott Walker’s doorstep.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_TX3MXXPF52BXCKGNLDNPADILPQ paul rogers

    Using perjorative terms undermines your argument. By your assertion, there would be NO money at all going to anyone other than defense dept employess and banks. Seeing as how we spend much more on education, welfare, medicare, medicaid, etc than we do on defense, your argument holds no water.

    Also, unless you are currently “eating shit” and on death’s door, I must assume that you either work for the defense department or are a banker.

  • Guest

    But why give them the benefit of the doubt when Obama can’t win regardless??

    Tomorrow, Obama can declare himself a Republican and somehow the GOP
    would still find fault with him, What would be left for him to do then, bleach his skin??

    Is Obama’s ego that big that he still thinks these people can be reasoned with?

    Joe Somebody is right.

  • http://profiles.yahoo.com/u/PSKROFVS7E4PVTI2CEPLFWEJII John

    Teachers…welfare workers…the elderly that receive medicare are all under assault at this very moment from Wall Street, right wing stooges…in Ohio and Wisconsin. Let’s see who has to give up the most, the fastest….those that educate, help or actually are the elderly and poor….or the defense department.

    Yeah….I’m a banker and I work for the Defense Department and you are full of shit.

    But….that’s only my opinion and I mean no harm. Really! Have a wonderful day and weekend.

  • Guest

    I’m actually from Wisconsin, too, born in Peshtigo. As a student at UW Madison during the anti-Vietnam War demonstrations, the governor at the time called out the National Guard with their Jeep-mounted .50 caliber machine guns. We laughed at them and they just frowned because there was no way they could open up on (or, as the military says now, light up) a bunch of unarmed hippies.

    Cheers… and hoist a frosty Leinenkugels for me over the Packer’s victory.

  • Anonymous

    So the idiot governor of Wisconsin is going to send in the National Guard to take over the jobs of teachers and anyone else he’s going to shit on? How many National Guardsmen and women are certified teachers, certified public works employees who monitor and maintain sanitary and drinking water stations, or are certified police and fire officers? Are there really that many who can be called up to adequately fill those jobs? I doubt it. Just another sorry-assed Republican like Ronald Reagan.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_USTC5E6P4FBMQRHXC2DBD2TOJE Jim C

    So he’s figured out it’s an attack on unions , well duh . He understands the need for ” tough spending cuts ” ? I wish he could figure out the need for seriously raising the taxes on the top 2% who have been ripping us off and raking it in for the last decade . How about having those who actually got us into this mess and profited from it pay to clean it up , what a novel idea.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_TX3MXXPF52BXCKGNLDNPADILPQ paul rogers

    As long as you and those of your ilk remain angry, confronational, combative and close-minded, you will never be in postions of power or influence. Please, keep up the good work!

  • http://twitter.com/ergblerg Thomas Paine

    137 million dollar budget deficit? Cry me a freaking river. My state of Illinois is fifteen billion in the hole. That tiny gap could be closed a million other ways that don’t involve open warfare on unions. The governor is using this as a pretext to do the bidding of big business cronies in his state.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_TX3MXXPF52BXCKGNLDNPADILPQ paul rogers
  • https://me.yahoo.com/a/K_CaOvViioLZynx.lwriWv6C_QxA3bg-#ffb59 WillyTee

    Walker was not going to call the National Guard to fulfill their duties, he was going to call the Guard to kick their union a$$ if they protested.

  • Anonymous

    I think it is time we take our Country back. By taking it back I mean from the wealthy. We need to march on Capitol Hill and on Wall Street. These Greedy Thieves need to understand that they are in the minority and we are to be reckoned with. What ever it takes is what we need to do,short of violence. If other countries can do it so can we. When we take it back ” We the people” need to change the way business is done in DC. No more Lobbying and term limits. When you are done,go home and get a job. Then maybe you will make sure there are jobs for the rest of us. These people have more money than they will ever need and watch as people lose jobs,homes and everything they have. Time for them to go get some work. They try to scare us with words like Socialism and keep us afraid of everything. I am not afraid and none of us should be. They need to fear the American People.

  • http://profiles.yahoo.com/u/PSKROFVS7E4PVTI2CEPLFWEJII John

    People of my ilk would say “closed minded,” but that”s just us.

  • Anonymous

    Bring it on Barack,this is your time and place.Just do it!!!!

  • Anonymous

    To the people of Ohio,whether you are a union worker or not,this asshole of a newly elected governor (Kasich)is determined to burn our asses at the stake.Don’t forget,he was George W.idiots budget director.If he makes one false move,a recall petition should be the order of the day

  • Anonymous

    We have a repulsive Governor in the state of Ohio now.Is anybody old enough to remember Governor Jim Rhodes (a republican)ordering the Ohio National Guard to shoot the demonstrators at Kent State University??Don’t be fooled folks,it could happen again.
    Watch out for the republicans,they are evil!!!

  • Anonymous

    I think it is time for Ohioans to do exactly what the good hardworking people of Wisconson are doing. The Republicans have chosen the battle so let’s get it on. Rush Limbpig has called the working people FREELOADERS, Well FATASS, when did you ever grab a hose and go into a burning building,when did you ever strap on a gun and a badge and go to a domestic, when did you ever comfort a dying patient and their family,when did you ever take the time to teach a small child to read or write? Don’t worry FATASS,I know the answer to all of those questions,you never had the time or the courage, and your were hooked on prescription drugs. I think you are the FREELOADER, FATASS.