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Wisconsin’s Scott Walker Not Backing Down
posted by: Alix | March 01, 2011, 05:43 PM   

For the past two weeks, Wisconsin union leaders and members have gathered steadily in Madison in hopes of pressuring lawmakers to drop a bill that would end forced unionism and aims to close monumental budget shortfalls. With no legislative progress, the war of words is heating up in Wisconsin as some experts are calling this the "death knell" of big labor --yielding commentary by President Obama.

Commentators coast-to-coast are calling the bills a final blow to public-sector union clout. "There is no one representing the taxpayer [in public sector collective bargaining]," illustrated one opinion editorial. We once lived in a country where the general public could "name the head of the AFL-CIO," argued another. Clearly union leadership has lost ground with the public, particularly in these economic times.

President Barack Obama weighed in on Monday, appearing to allude to the Wisconsin debate by telling a group of governors that while "everybody should be prepared to give up something" in the face of new budget realities, "I don't think it does anybody any good when public employees are vilified." While the president has publicly expressed support for those fighting to keep forced unionism in Wisconsin, he has not joined them at protests.

Governor Walker's camp fired back last night, "I'm sure the President knows that the average federal worker pays twice as much for health insurance as what we are asking for in Wisconsin. At least I would hope he knows these facts. Furthermore, I'm sure the President knows that we have repeatedly praised the more than 300,000 government workers who come to work every day in Wisconsin." Governor Walker has mentioned that the President has fundamentally misunderstood the situation in Wisconsin, urging him not to "act like a union boss by saying one thing and doing another."

This week, Governor Walker has introduced new components of his proposed state budget, including cuts to per-pupil spending and 9 percent cuts overall to state wide education programs. Union leaders have already released statement calling the budget, "too extreme."

Meanwhile in the Wisconsin State Capitol building in Madison, protesters have essentially made themselves at home in the Statehouse. Crews of custodians have been struggling to keep the building clean around them. Thousands of discarded signs and sleeping bags have littered the capitol building for days, leaving many to wonder when the dust will settle on this debate.

In preparation for the governor's budget speech, police would not allow protestors to enter the capitol on Monday unless they were on official business. Police said they were trying to resolve conflicts with a handful of protesters who had refused to move to the ground floor of the building where demonstrators were being told to stay. The protests continued to gain steam outside.

Do you think the president was right in commenting on a state issue?
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