Barack 0bama refused to become personally involved with the Arizona immigration law last year referring to it as a “local issue”. But today, he reversed course and stepped right square into the middle of the fray in Wisconsin where the state government is attempting to solve some of its own budget problems.
In an interview with WTMJ in Milwaukee, 0bama said, “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. I think it's very important for us to understand that public employees, they're our neighbors, they're our friends.”
Wisconsin’s Republican governor, Scott Walker has proposed to correct many of Wisconsin’s economic woes by forcing state workers to cover half of their pension contributions. The proposal also requires state workers to foot the bill for 13% of their own health insurance costs (so much for 100% government coverage under 0bamacare). Government employee bargaining units would be stripped of the ability to negotiate for higher wages without approval by public vote and compulsory dues payments would become a thing of the past.
To show their contempt for Governor Walker, labor activists packed themselves into the state capitol in Madison chanting and screaming their protests. Schools have been closed because teachers organized a “sick out” and even dragged their students along forcing them to join the protest. Furthering the movement, the 14 Democratic lawmakers refused to appear to vote on the legislation and then allegedly left the state in a childish attempt to bring Republicans to their knees. Currently Republicans hold a 19-seat majority in the 33-member state senate; however, they are one vote short of the required number of members to conduct business. As a result, the vote could not take place.
Governor Walker referred to the Democrats’ abandonment of their jobs as a “stunt” and predicted the group would eventually grow up and return realizing they were elected “to do a job”. The election of Walker and Republican majorities in both state chambers set the stage for a massive change in Wisconsin’s perception as insanely pro-labor.
0bama’s comments, referring to Governor Walker’s plan as “an assault on unions” displays with crystal clarity 0bama’s desperate need for unions to back him in a re-election bid in 2012. 0bama loves organized labor because, evidenced by his praise for government workers calling them neighbors and friends. By coming out in support of the state employees in Wisconsin, 0bama is sure to guarantee himself that state’s electoral votes in 2012. Let the political posturing games begin.
Wisconsin Democrats rely heavily on organized labor to fund its attack campaigns on opponents. State government workers’ unions skim money from employee paychecks and funnel that money into the labor groups’ campaign contribution funds. 0bama has reason to be uneasy about Governor Walker’s plan because part of the proposal would require dues to be paid voluntarily.
In his interview, 0bama could not resist throwing another jab at Governor Walker, lambasting him for rejecting a high-speed rail line, but hovered mainly around his fallacious arguments in favor of labor activists.
Wisconsin has plenty of company in the budget crisis section. 0bama’s home state of Illinois boasts the worst economic crisis in the nation and its current governor, Pat Quinn is reluctant to change the status quo, proposing to continue massively under-funded state-worker pension plans by increasing spending by $1.7 billion and borrowing an additional $8.75 billion with bonds backed by new, higher taxes that double the state’s current rate.
Should Governor Walker’s plan pass, it would cast a pall over the state’s position as the birthplace of the union representing all non-federal public employees. The requirement that employees should pay part of their own health insurance and pension is something that has been done in the private sector for years. In Wisconsin, asking employees to pay for part of their benefits as a cost-saving measure to the state is not only exceptionally reasonable, it is exceptionally fair considering the costs to the employees are modest at best when compared to similar private sector plans. Should the measure not pass, the state would be required to lay off up to 6,000 state workers.