WASHINGTON – Rep. Keith Ellison (D-MN), the co-chair of the House progressive caucus, said Wednesday that Wisconsin’s Republican Gov. Scott Walker is behaving like a “dictator.”
Walker has been “absolutely unreasonable, and is basically taking on the posture of a dictator,” Ellison told reporters on a conference call organized by the Progressive Change Campaign Committee.
The standoff between Republicans and Democrats in Wisconsin continues for a second week as Walker refuses to back down on a budget measure curtailing the collective bargaining rights of public employee unions. Fourteen Democrats fled the state last week to protest the measure and prevent Republicans from getting the votes.
Ellison accused Walker of having “a vision of America that’s similar to somewhere like Nigeria or Pakistan,” saying he’s “been extreme, radical, reckless… and he’s going to fail.”
To the Wisconsin Democrats and pro-union demonstrators, Ellison said: “You are absolute heroes to us.”
Walker insists that his budget measure does not single out or target unions, arguing that across-the-board cuts are necessary to bridge the state’s shortfall.
The National Journal reported that the union rights provision “wouldn’t save any money this year.” Critics have noted that Walker’s tax cut for businesses contributed to the state’s deficit.
Rep. Raul Grijalva (D-AZ), also co-chair of the progressive caucus, said on the call that the clash in Wisconsin is critical to the cause of union bargaining rights across the country as the outcome could influence the direction of others states seeking ways to balance their budgets.
“It is absolutely necessary for you, for us, to win this fight,” Grijalva said. “If we win this fight in Wisconsin, we will win it all across the country.