WASHINGTON – In Exhibit A, millions of people protesting a 30-year autocrat’s tyrannical regime. In Exhibit B, several thousand demonstrators railing against a bill curtailing public employee union rights.
Both significant, but not really comparable.
Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan, a rising star in the Republican Party, on Thursday equated the protests against his home-state Gov. Scott Walker’s (R) budget plan to the world-historic demonstrations in Egypt that last week led to the fall of President Hosni Mubarak.
“He’s getting riots. It’s like Cairo’s moved to Madison these days,” Ryan said on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe.”
Walker’s budget plan would strip the collective bargaining rights of public employees and force them to pay more for benefits, in an effort to cut Wisconsin’s budget deficit of $137 million. He threatened to call the national guard to fill the duties of state workers if they were to protest or walk out.
The controversial legislation drew thousands of protesters near the Wisconsin Capitol on Tuesday and Wednesday. The Associated Press reported Wednesday that as many as 10,000 demonstrators gathered in the capital city of Madison, including “teachers, prison guards and students.”
Ryan said he supports his governor’s plan, insisting it’s “not asking a lot.”
“He’s basically saying I want you public workers to pay half of what our private sector counter parts are, and he’s getting riots,” Ryan said, adding that “we’ve got to get this deficit and debt under control in Madison.”
President Barack Obama condemned the measure Wednesday in an interview with the Milwaukee-based news station TMJ, calling it an “assault on unions.”
This video is of the Wisconsin protests, uploaded to Vimeo by Johnny Clark.