Wisconsin protests: Obama goes too far by mobilizing opposition

There are many lessons to be learned from the protests and outright abdication of duty by public labor unions and Democrats (but I repeat myself) in Wisconsin. One of them is that there can no longer be any doubts that President Obama has radical ideas about the proper balance and relationship between the federal and state governments.

From the Washington Post:

President Obama thrust himself and his political operation this week into Wisconsin’s broiling budget battle, mobilizing opposition Thursday to a Republican bill that would curb public-worker benefits and planning similar protests in other state capitals.

Obama accused Scott Walker, the state’s new Republican governor, of unleashing an “assault” on unions in pushing emergency legislation that would change future collective-bargaining agreements that affect most public employees, including teachers.

The president’s political machine worked in close coordination Thursday with state and national union officials to get thousands of protesters to gather in Madison and to plan similar demonstrations in other state capitals.

Their efforts began to spread, as thousands of labor supporters turned out for a hearing in Columbus, Ohio, to protest a measure from Gov. John Kasich (R) that would cut collective-bargaining rights.

By the end of the day, Democratic Party officials were organizing additional demonstrations in Ohio and Indiana, where an effort is underway to trim benefits for public workers. Some union activists predicted similar protests in Missouri, New Jersey and Pennsylvania.

Let me make my position perfectly clear: The president of the United States has no business whatsoever interfering, especially by using his campaign apparatus, with a state government’s dealings with its employees.

No. Business. Whatsoever.

His eagerness to jump into the fray in Madison, like his ill-advised wading into the dispute over the arrest of Harvard professor Henry Louis Gates two summers ago, not only betrays his disturbing instinct to think nothing is beyond the bounds of his office. It actually demeans the office itself. As Matt Welch writes at Reason.com:

Just think — there once was a time (for more than a century, actually), when the president of the United States thought it too imperious to deliver the State of the Union via a speech to a joint session of Congress, since that would smack of telling a co-equal branch of government what to do. Now we have a president not just taking rhetorical sides in a state issue, but actively mobilizing his political organization to affect the outcome(s), even though (to my knowledge) nothing that Gov. [Scott] Walker or any other belated statehouse cost-cutter is doing has a damned thing to do with federal law.

This is not sending in the National Guard to enforce a federal court order to integrate the schools in Little Rock. Despite what you may have heard — from President Obama, for instance — Wisconsin’s governor is not “making it harder for public employees to collectively bargain generally.”

What the governor, newly elected Republican Scott Walker, wants is to sharply curb collective bargaining for benefits — which in that state, like many other jurisdictions, are unsustainably generous and threaten to sink the entire state’s finances — and require employees to contribute less than 6 percent of their salaries toward their pension plan and pay $1 for every $7 that the state pays for their health-insurance premiums.

The horror!

But even if Obama personally finds such a policy as horrific as Wisconsin’s revolting teachers (oops, teachers in revolt) do, the fact remains that it is not the president’s business.

If Obama or his attorney general thinks Wisconsin would be violating an aspect of federal law, then the Department of Justice could sue the state — but only after it acts. Instead, he and his political organization are trying to pre-empt an ostensibly lawful action by the state’s government.

Folks, in case it wasn’t clear before: There is nothing — nothing — that Obama considers outside the purview of the federal government. His meddling in Wisconsin is the logical conclusion of that ideology.

Speaking of which, Welch argues this is about much more than Obama alone:

We are witnessing the logical conclusion of the Democratic Party’s philosophy, and it is this: Your tax dollars exist to make public sector unions happy. When we run out of other people’s money to pay for those contracts and promises (most of which are negotiated outside of public view, often between union officials and the politicians that union officials helped elect), then we just need to raise taxes to cover a shortfall that is obviously Wall Street’s fault. Anyone who doesn’t agree is a bully, and might just bear an uncanny resemblance to Hitler.

The president’s heavy-handed involvement, along with House Republicans’ refusal to sign off on any new bailout of the states, means that this may very well be America’s biggest and most widespread political fight in 2011. It’s a cage match to determine first dibs on a shrinking pie. A clarifying moment.

Indeed.

– By Kyle Wingfield

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130 comments Add your comment

ATL Girl

February 18th, 2011
4:46 pm

The Wisconsin unions claim they’ve been making concessions for years. Wow, then they really were grossly overpaid and overcompensated, since they’re still not even close to the wages and benefits of the private sector. Let them protest. They may be loud, but they’re still wrong.

Le Bourgeois

February 18th, 2011
4:47 pm

Once a community organizer, always a community organizer. Obama should consider his plate very full right now what with the federal budget deficit/fiscal gap and the crazy state of world affairs. Once again, he proves to us that unions are his top priority.

Eric

February 18th, 2011
4:50 pm

You know you’re fringe when Obama looks ‘radical’.

I Report (-: You Whine )-: mmm, mmmm, mmmmm! Just sayin...

February 18th, 2011
4:54 pm

Allow me to provide an AJC translation service for you ate up liberals-

MADISON, Wis. — President Barack Obama put himself and his political operation into Wisconsin’s budget battle, mobilizing opposition Thursday to a Republican bill that would curb public-worker benefits. -Urinal

This is nothing more than a 2012 presidential kkkampaign ad and the AJC knows it. Comfort the mouthbreathers with glorious songs and battle cries reminiscent of the finest North Korean tribute to Dear Leader. obozo put forth the valiant fight at the Repug ramparts but the “people” still only have potatoes to eat and dung to burn for warmth. You are blessed to have thee obozo as your fearless advocate, “organizing” your community, this should be enough to sustain you and your loved ones, all flaming stupid defeats aside. Shut up and be happy, obozo is on it.

Meanwhile, you Union hacks in Wisconsin, pop open your wallets and get ready to pay, because equality has come to your workplace and your days of robbing the US Treasury blind are……..ovah.

Just sayin…

I Report (-: You Whine )-: mmm, mmmm, mmmmm! Just sayin...

February 18th, 2011
5:07 pm

If you ever had any doubts about which political party is in charge of teaching your children, and why they are so ignorant, Wisconsin has removed all the guesswork, just sayin…

Manchurian-Kenyan Candidate

February 18th, 2011
5:36 pm

I guess Obama’s line: “Elections have consequences” only applies when liberals win, huh?

The Original Get Real

February 18th, 2011
6:04 pm

What we are seeing is a little piece of Greece when public sector union employees are being forced off of the government narcotic. All they are being asked to do is contribute a little more or something at all to their retirement and healthcare like the rest of us private sector workers.

This display and the democratic senators leaving the state so a vote cannot be taken is great theater and is going to completely blow up in the face of all unions and democrats. Having Obama weigh in on the issue (déjà vu) when he doesn’t even know the facts is icing on the cake…

fair and imbalanced

February 18th, 2011
6:10 pm

He also started a war using lies for a justification, costing thousands of American lives and trillions of dollars. Oh wait…

Kyle, did Bush ever “cross the line”? How much blood did you give when you took the Party oath?

Max

February 18th, 2011
6:14 pm

Kyle, you really need to cut back on your hysteria, young man.

Presidents ALWAYS use their bully-pulpit to help citizen groups they support. Jiminy Crickets, did you get the vapors when previous Presidents (Dem and GOP) supported one group or another?

No, of course not.

What is happening in Wisconsin is a out-of-control GOP Governor trying to use dubious law to break unions that have general public support. More specifically the Governor is going after the teachers union (who don’t get paid by the state so the “reduce the state deficit” claim is pure bovine excrement) because they opposed him during the election and exempting fire/police/state trooper unions because they supported him.

This what you’re backing, young Mister?

Really?

The Original Get Real

February 18th, 2011
6:15 pm

fair and imbalanced

Good job staying on topic…NOT

John

February 18th, 2011
6:15 pm

Has anyone noticed the bill in Wisconson bill exempts those unions who supported Republicans in the last election (police, fire, etc.) and only attacks those that supported Democrats.

ByteMe

February 18th, 2011
6:16 pm

Ah, another rant from the party of “we don’t care about workers”.

Perhaps “radical” just means mainstream when you’re really a radical yourself. Look at this map

http://www.talkingpointsmemo.com/archives/2011/02/look_at_the_map.php#more?ref=fpblg

and then tell me how out of the mainstream having union negotiating rights is compared to not having them.

Burman Fisher

February 18th, 2011
6:19 pm

Democrats and unions made a mistake when Lane Kirkland, then head of the AFL-CIO, allowed Reagan to fire the air traffic controllers in the 1981 without staging a major “solidarity” type of national walkout of all union members. This situation in Wisconsin ought to be a rallying cry for all union members to get ready to respond by shutting down the entire country for twenty days as a show that collective bargaining is not to be fooled with by the radical Republicans. If union members “blink” on this or any other state that attempts to change collective bargaining rights, then they will be on the way out the door as ineffective in support of workers’ rights. Selah!

John

February 18th, 2011
6:22 pm

Kyle, did you feel the same way when President Bush publicly talked about and supported a Constitutional amendment banning same sex marriage. As we both know, the president has no roll in the amendment process…as you stated with Obama, Bush has No. Business. Whatsoever injecting himself into it.

fair and imbalanced

February 18th, 2011
6:22 pm

To Original get Real: Ditto

John

February 18th, 2011
6:26 pm

Wake up people…do you think Rebublicans care about the working class. Repbulicans ran on a jobs platform but now that the control the house they have not produced one jobs bill. Just look at John Boehner’s words about people loosing thier jobs…”so be it”.

Evelyn

February 18th, 2011
6:26 pm

President Obama did not “thrust himself” into the controversy, as the Washington Post reported, he merely answered the questions of a reporter. To report otherwise was intellectually dishonest. Shame on you for re-publishing the dishonest statement. I use to think highly of the AJC, but for the last couple of years partisanship has risen above truth.

Reality Check

February 18th, 2011
6:31 pm

Great article Kyle!

Folks this is the beginning of the end for the mob rule mentality of the union goons, their position is not to protect the well being of their constitutes but to move political opinion! Their place and time came a long wind ago and know they are desperately grasping at the fading light of existance.

President (empty suit) Yo Yo is know using the position of President along with his thugs to position pressure on the elected Republican caucus in WI, WTF? But he demands that corporate America put a cap on executive pay at private companies? Hey jackass, you cannot have it both ways!

This President along with the socialist left are litteraly trying everything to destroy our constitution, Here’s the good news, they are failing and will fail because the American people are awaking to the foul stence that is the democratic (sociolist) party!

Obama you will go down in history as the single worst president ever!

Filster

February 18th, 2011
6:33 pm

Now would be a good time for unions to be dissolved. Givent ehir track record of securing wages and benefits for their members far in excess of that acquired by the general public, all I can say is fire em all, the heck with collective bargaining, etc. Hey, there are tons of folks out there without jobs who would gladly work for what the unins reject. Unions collect unemployment goodies for their members. Fire em all and let the unions pay em.

YALL

February 18th, 2011
6:44 pm

“Obama you will go down in history as the single worst president ever!”

Actually that title belongs to George W. Bush. Let me guess, you’re one of those people who still have their Bush/Cheney’04 bumper sticker on their car don’t you?

CJ

February 18th, 2011
6:45 pm

Despite the Washington Post’s assertion to the contrary, the Democratic Party isn’t Obama’s “political machine” or his “campaign apparatus”. A political party belongs to its contributors, members, registered voters, and all who identify with it. There’s nothing remotely unusual about the Democratic Party getting involved in a dispute between, you know, Republicans and Democrats to defend their values and those of their constituents.

And It’s not as though Democrats have wealthy heirs/corporations like the Koch bothers/Koch Industries to finance their every move (note that the Koch brothers, using their inherited wealth, are having their front organizations, such as “Americans for Prosperity,” bus in counter-protesters to support Tea Party Republican Walker).

There also appears to be double standard here. Why, for example, can a Republican Congress and a Republican President use their powers in elected office to get involved in a state matter in Florida, as they did in the Terri Shaivo case, but the Democratic Party can’t fight back in Wisconsin without using the powers of elected office? Were the people who are outraged today, outraged then?

And why can a Republican Speaker of the House from Ohio speak out in support of Governor Walker’s position, as he has, but President Obama can’t speak out in opposition of it?

These different standards lead me to believe that all this (faux?) outrage over Obama and the Democratic Party is another case of misdirection.

flagger

February 18th, 2011
6:45 pm

Why don’t we all just work for the government at some level, that way we will be taken care of from the cradle to the grave and if we want something, why we can just tax ourselves and presto..oops there it is. Otherwise its the dumb idiots out there working for da man or themselves that have to keep all the
fat lazy bums that have been suckling the govment teat for years in the manor they are accustom.
We all know they can make a lot more in the private sector and how much they have given up in salary over the years so they could have good benefits…. BULL CRAP….

B

February 18th, 2011
6:46 pm

I would never even consider joining a union. The thought is repulsive to me. Why would anyone give up his/her independence and be subject to some mob moss who thinks he has the right to tell me what to do! Thank God for Republicans who are willing to fight the necessary battles! Get government goons out of our lives. The very idea that government anything and their union peons can do (anything efficiently or effectively is absurd. Nothing in the history of the world has done more to institutionalize mediocrity than unions! Good grief, what fools these mortal (democrats) be!

Martin Williams

February 18th, 2011
6:57 pm

Kyle, you should stop writing period as you truly lack common sense.

Reality Check

February 18th, 2011
7:01 pm

YALL.

So you can read, excellent! Know read this again “OBAMA YOU WILL GO DOWN IN HISTORY AS THE SINGLE WORST PRESIDEND EVER!

Why do you liberals always bring up Bush? What is your fascination with him? Bush lied, Bush is a war monger the list goes on and on like a broken record. I just laugh at you libs and your disease I call liberalism, I will pray for you YALL while I’m in church Sunday morning!

Oh bye he way YALL, I don’t have a Bush/Cheney 04 bumper sticker on my car and if I did I’d put a sticker on my car that read “HEY YALL YALL CAN FINALLY READ” I

By the way YALL I’m an Independent!

Mr Right

February 18th, 2011
7:06 pm

YALL

February 18th, 2011
6:44 pm

DON’T BE SO STUPID!

Linda

February 18th, 2011
7:06 pm

Evelyn@6:26, Did O merely grant a one-on-one interview & answer the questions of a Wisconsin reporter or did he summon that reporter to the White House to “thrust himself” into the controversy? Get your facts straight, Maam.

artb

February 18th, 2011
7:08 pm

President Obama did not thrust himself into the Wisconsin debate. He was asked about it and gave his opinions. Presidents are allowed to weigh in on important issues you know, even black presidents.

yuzeyurbrain

February 18th, 2011
7:09 pm

Kyle, don’t pxxs in my boot and tell me its raining. Are you deluded or just full of it?

Linda

February 18th, 2011
7:10 pm

YALL@6:44, Why do you think Bush was such a bad president?

LIBS SUCK

February 18th, 2011
7:14 pm

You leftist libs have absolutely NO idea about government authority. Obama is the BIGGEST mistake this country has ever made whiuch is fact and will be proved even to you idiot libs soon enough. We tried to tell you two and a half years ago this clown was a community activist at best but you would not listen. The bumber sticker I display is “Don’t blame me…I didn’t vote for Obama (sic)”

Linda

February 18th, 2011
7:15 pm

artb@7:08, Obama sending his Organizing for America, his personal arm, to Wis. isn’t “thrusting?” Calling a Wis. reporter to the White House for a one-on-one interview wasn’t “thrusting?”

LIBS SUCK

February 18th, 2011
7:18 pm

artb,

you have sunk back to the sixties by playing the race card. Shame on you. The fact is is that BO has gotten the benefit of the doubt MANY time because of his race.

Rafe Hollister

February 18th, 2011
7:20 pm

I will have to credit Charles Krauthamer with this one as I think he had a great point. It seeems that Mr. Hope and Change has turned into Mr Status Quo these days. Seems the young Republican governors and Representatives are stepping up to the plate and changing the budgetary system for the better. Nero Obama sits in the WH and fiddles, while the Republicans move to bring our financial house in order. The Dems have become the party of the Status Quo.

LIBS SUCK

February 18th, 2011
7:21 pm

The fact of the matter in Wisconsin is that the federal /union employees are paid their fat benefits by the hard working public sector. Have you seen the pesions paid to these people? If kings only had it so good!

LIBS SUCK

February 18th, 2011
7:23 pm

Rafe,
you are exactly right. BO is pissed that the GOP is the one to come up with solving these economic strifes and will squash opponents to his radical liberal agenda at any chance.

Toby

February 18th, 2011
7:24 pm

Georgia highschool grads in action, what a sight.

Rafe Hollister

February 18th, 2011
7:25 pm

All during the Porkulous bill and the Non Affordable Healthcare Rationing Act (aka, Obamacare) we heard the Dems tell the Republicans that we have the votes and do not care what you think or want. Now the Rep are in charge in Wisconsin and where are the Dems. They took their ball and went home, refusing to participate. Can you imagine the Obamamedia outrage had the Republicans walked out and refused to participate in the vote to approve Obamacare? Turnabout is so much fun.

LIBS SUCK

February 18th, 2011
7:25 pm

Of course, by my stating such makes me a racist in certain eyes…..;<

LIBS SUCK

February 18th, 2011
7:28 pm

I’m sure MSNBC and other liberal outlets will persuade the American people this is a Republican party, better yet GWB problem, that has led to Wisconsin’s demise. Chris Matthews is problably having an orgasm thinking about Obama’s response to the matter!

bigguy

February 18th, 2011
7:29 pm

killerj

February 18th, 2011
7:32 pm

“Winds of change”,Time to pay the coffer……Go Tea Party.

Marcus

February 18th, 2011
7:33 pm

John at the 6:22 mark settles this discussion.

LIBS SUCK

February 18th, 2011
7:35 pm

Marcus and John,

Did you know that Bush has been out of office for 2 and half years? Quit blaming others, LOSERS!!

Atticus Finch

February 18th, 2011
7:37 pm

Kyle has “jumped the shark” with this one.

LIBS SUCK

February 18th, 2011
7:37 pm

The difference with Bush was exactly what John said….”CONSTITUTIONAL amendment” not state amendment. The President has ZERO right sticking is uninformed nose into state business!!!

Rafe Hollister

February 18th, 2011
7:40 pm

I encourage Nero and the Dems to get as involved as they can defending the Public Employees Union in Wisconsin. Kinda like a friend defending a wife beater while the battered wife stands in the background. It doesn’t generate a whole lot of support from anyone but wife beaters.

independent thinker

February 18th, 2011
7:47 pm

I am with you on this one Kyle. We know who Obama is counting on to fund his reelection expenses. Any public employee who thinks their allegiance to a union boss takes precedence over their duty to the public should be fired. Obama proved that the Democrats have deviated from their core principles and the greatest Democat to be president:
“… Meticulous attention should be paid to the special relationships and obligations of public servants to the public itself and to the government. All Government employees should realize that the process of collective bargaining, as usually understood, cannot be transplanted into the public service. It has its distinct and insurmountable limitations … The very nature and purposes of Government make it impossible for … officials … to bind the employer … The employer is the whole people, who speak by means of laws enacted by their representatives …

“Particularly, I want to emphasize my conviction that militant tactics have no place in the functions of any organization of government employees. Upon employees in the federal service rests the obligation to serve the whole people … This obligation is paramount … A strike of public employees manifests nothing less than an intent … to prevent or obstruct … Government … Such action, looking toward the paralysis of Government … is unthinkable and intolerable.”

~ FDR letter to the president of the National Federation of Federal Employees in 1937

don

February 18th, 2011
8:03 pm

Wisconsin has a surplus when Walker took office. He cut taxes to create this situation. And you’re trashing unions?

get out much?

February 18th, 2011
8:03 pm

Just another in a long list of reasons why no one in their right mind should consider teaching as a profession and one more reason for those already in it, to leave. Interesting that the Governor targeted the female dominated profession but left the male dominated ones alone.