On Wisconsin, Obama Appeals to Fear

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It was only last Tuesday that senior White House advisor Valerie Jarrett cautioned Fox News against making a “Wisconsin issue…[into] a Washington issue,” signaling that the administration was distancing itself from the ongoing public sector union battle in the Dairy State. Monday, however, as Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker was putting the final touches on his two year budget plan, President Obama appeared to reverse himself on this decision in remarks made to the nation’s governors. Once again, the president has turned to manipulative community organizing tactics to divert attention from the real issues as stake.

“I believe that everybody should be prepared to give up something to solve our budget challenges,” Obama told governors from around the nation yesterday morning. “In fact, many public employees in your respective states have already agreed to cuts. But let me also say this: I don’t think it does anybody any good when public employees are denigrated or vilified or when their rights are infringed upon.”

Once again, the president is falling back on a classic community-organizing tactic: using a straw man to polarize and defeat the opposition. Obama knows that he can’t win an argument that focuses on uncomfortable issues like forced unionization, how Big Labor spends its money, fiscal responsibility or conflicts of interest. All of those factors are at the actual center of the debates that have been taking place in Wisconsin, New Jersey, Ohio and Indiana and that are sure to spread throughout the nation. Yet, how can the president claim that forcing government employees to join unions is a great idea, when – as the Wall Street Journal recently pointed out – nearly two million federal workers are prohibited from engaging in collective bargaining over wages and benefits?  Would Obama dare enter into a debate about the wisdom of allowing public sector employees to unionize when leftist heroes from FDR to Jimmy Carter are on record saying that doing so would be a blatant conflict of interest?

The administration cannot win any of the real, substantive arguments here. Obama has, thus, largely silently watched from the sidelines as the state budget battles have unfolded. But, now that it’s clear that the issue isn’t going to fade away on its own, the White House is stepping in, hoping to deflect attention away from the real issues by replacing them with a phony one.

Is anyone with any important role to play in these discussions actually “denigrating” or “vilifying” public employees? In fact, the opposite is true. Governors leading the fiscal responsibility charge, like Chris Christie and Scott Walker, have bent over backwards to make it clear that they appreciate teachers and the work they do, but that something has to be done to rein in out of control union leadership and crippling contracts. The state legislators backing public union reform have been – with very rare exceptions – equally careful not to denigrate or vilify any employees, but to focus on a system that is badly broken instead. That is not to say bloggers and other pundits have not dabbled in derisive rhetoric, but union reforms in the halls of state power are certainly not leading this constituency.

Moreover, if anyone is guilty of character assassination to a degree worthy of condemnation, it’s labor leaders, protesting union apologists and Democrat lawmakers, who have employed disgusting, violent rhetoric in this debate and whose idea of engaging in a discussion ranges from running away to shouting down anyone who disagrees with them. Comparing Scott Walker to Adolf Hitler, or praying for Chris Christie’s untimely death is apparently just fine with the president, since he has yet to speak up about those pronouncements.

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  • Lenny

    Howcome there was no choice to vote thumbs down on this ridiculous article that distorted the situation completely and came up with a completely bogus charge about Obama using "classic community organizing tactics." Just a right wing screed so full of distortions it's hard to even know where to start. i'm not going to waste my time – just registering one man's opinion.

    • ConstantineXI

      Sounds like Lenny is emotionally having a hard time admitting that his hero Barack Hussein Obama is a failure.

    • USMCSniper

      Obama can’t come and march with you folks in Wisconsin cause his own Federal “Union” Employees don’t have any Collective Bargaining Rights whatsoever!
      Oh how I love to watch the webs that you and your Liberal Democrats weave. Seems they get all tangled up in their own deceptions. It must have taken a whole lot of money to get Obama elected. I am guessing Union Money along with that of the Communists as they continue to pull the Puppets strings. Joe Biden was absolutely correct when he stated the Presidency is no place for on the job training. How is it that a highly educated and intelligent man can become President and behave so stupidly? Perhaps the education part was trumped up just a tad. Of course we will never know for sure since the records have been sealed.

    • sudmuf

      Ahhh Lenny…..The one thing Liberals hate most is the truth.

  • Chezwick_Mac

    Gov Walker should carry out his threat to start laying off public employees. On the national level, Republicans in Congress should prepare to shut the federal government down in the absence of real spending cuts.

    This ISN'T 1995. Our debt problems are MUCH more severe today…and the public is up to speed. Let's get on with it!

    • Jim_C

      It's an interesting situation because I think its long term outcome will be an important bellewether of public political sentiment. If he is actually able to improve the fiscal health of the state and not just provide breaks and gifts for his donors, it will have a huge domino effect, and the American people will be behind it.

      Personally I don't see how he survives this, politically, esp. in Wisconsin, but I admire the courage.

  • chuck227

    C’mon Gov Walker, time to go PATCO on these guys!

  • Ollie

    You NAILED it! Great analysis.

    • geez

      Thanks Ollie. 2012 can't g!

      • geez

        Oops, darn left thumb…. what I was saying was, 2012 can't get here soon enough!

  • Jim_C

    If the issue is the legitmacy of public sector unions (which also exist in states dominated by Republicans btw), there's a lot of merit to arguments against. Unions, as we all know, can be an impediment to improvement (though in fairness they can also be a partner). But there's a reason the public hasn't turned against Scott Walker–yet.

  • pianoforte54

    I listen to Rush, and he does not single out "teachers" as being greedy or the only problem. It is the ENTIRE public sector that is being talked about here. And please, Jim, tell me of ANY company that was run into the ground and someone got compensated with a huge bonus and is STILL in business. No company is run into the ground and gives tout huge bonuses because of it. What do you have against big business?
    And speaking about schools. money has been thrown at them for decades now and our children are dumber than they have ever been. Granted, they may feel good about themselves (I don't think so) but they can't even read at acceptable grade levels and graduate being completely illiterate.

    • Jim_C

      Pianoforte, if getting rid of unions can actually help bring state spending in line AND improve the education system, great. I just haven't yet heard a reality-based, non-impressionistic argument for how the first thing will actually beget the other. I've seen a lot of Fox over the last week, and there's a lot of ignorant teacher-bashing going on. Haven't listened to Rush recently but he's consistent on that topic.

      People love to say "Our schools are failing," but they never seem to mention their own kids. Ever wonder why that is? Does every conservative homeschool, or pony up for tuition somewhere? Hmmm…

      Compared to what countries are our schools failing? OK, now ask yourself: Do those countries have public education systems? To what factors do you attribute their success? What do you think the single greatest of those factors is?

      • trickyblain

        –Compared to what countries are our schools failing? OK, now ask yourself: Do those countries have public education systems? To what factors do you attribute their success? What do you think the single greatest of those factors is?—

        Excellent points, Jim! And don't hold your breath waiting for an answer. Facts are inconveinent; rhetoric is reality to many of the folks here.

        • USMCSniper

          PISA, first administered in 2000, covers reading, math and science. But each time the test is given, it focuses in depth on one subject. Last year's exam spotlighted science, covering concepts in physics, chemistry, biology and earth and space science. On the science portion, U.S. students, most of them 10th-graders, received an average score of 489 on a 1,000-point scale, 11 points below the average of the 30 countries. Canada, Japan and Korea were among the countries in which students outperformed U.S. counterparts. U.S. students were on par with peers in eight countries and outperformed those from five others. In math, only four countries had average scores lower than the United States. Students in 23 countries had a higher average score, and those in two countries did about the same as the Americans. The ranking of U.S. students in math and science is 25th, the same as it was in 2003.

          • trickyblain

            The rankings aren't in question, Sniper. I think Jim's point was that those nations you list ALL have nearly exclusive public educational systems.

          • Jim_C

            And the fact that they are ALL public systems is only part of the point. What these intellectually dishonest complainers never ask themselves is WHY do those countries with exclusively public systems succeed, while ours lags behind? It can't be "liberal indoctrination," since all these countries are all unacceptably socialist.

            But you're right–I won't hold my breath waiting for another uninformed opinion.

          • Jim_C

            That they are all public systems is only part. To what would our conservative friends attribute these countries' success? These are all countries that would be unacceptably socialist in tenor for our friends.

          • BoogiesDaddy

            "Compared to what countries are our schools failing?"
            I do believe that opens the door to observing the rankings. Or is this where you move the target?
            The legitimate existence of a publicly financed education system is what is not in question.

            The real issue seems to be the wisdom of allowing public servants to be subjected to mandatory unionization and have a compulsory extraction of their money, by way of forced union dues, which in turn is used to elect Democrats who in return kick back lucrative public worker wage and benifit packages not available to the taxpayers who can no longer afford to pay for it.

            F.D.R. and Jimmy Carter were on this one. it is a conflict of interest.

  • SandezRey

    Why can't we villify public employees? Public school teachers make between 40 and 70K per year in salery anouther 20 to 35K in benefits in exchange 8 & 1/2 months work. Instead of gratitude for this, they whine constantly about being underpaid and unappreciated. Then they insist that thier work not be judged or graded and that they will not be fired no matter how incompetent. Here in Minneapolis a public school teacher-female- got stinking drunk and assaulted a stranger in a White Castle, BITING a piece off his ear! She wasn't fired! Her contract was up in two months, so the district put this deranged woman on two months of PAID leave because it was EASIER than firing her! But anyone who suggests any part of this system be changed is smeared by the teachers amoral reps. as 'attacking ' kids or 'against' education or drowning puppies or what ever lie they think they can get away with. So why should anyone think teachers ( as a group) are anything BUT selfish, grasping bores with no concern for what is best for the children or society as a whole.
    And don't even get me started on how DUMB some of these teacher are.

    • Jim_C

      Hello? Nobody whined about anything until they were told their bargaining rights were going to be taken away.

      • jay

        A 5 year old used to eating candy before bed will whine when that "right" is taken away.

        The point you're missing is it was a "right" that shouldn't have been given in the first place, so for them to make a claim that it is "unfair" that they're "losing" this "right" is a bit silly.

        Given how public sector spending has exploded the last few decades, and you can't point to one example at a national level where we are getting what we paid for, is reason enough to cut. Make due with less, and if you don't like it you can work in the real world with the rest of the non-parasites.

        BTW – It is not an insult to a parasite when you describe it as such, it's merely stating fact. Public sector spending growing at the expense of the host (taxpayers), perfect analogy.

        • Jim_C

          What is this about "rights?" These are contracts. Look, public sector spending isn't the fault of these people, it's the fault of those promising negotiated-for money and then spending it elsewhere.

          You know a parasite is someone who does nothing and expects something in return, right? These "freeloaders" (as Rush calls them) actually provide a valuable service to our communities. You'd never call them "parasite" to their face, because you're naturally a coward. Now the guys on Wall Street, who gambled with your money, lost it, and made out like bandits–I guess these guys are just too rich to be called parasites, right? Nah–your "outrage" is for the person making $50,000 and benefits next door who gets "summers off."

          • BoogiesDaddy

            Public workers who threaten "strike or more money, benifits" absolutely ARE responsible for the resulting costs.

  • Wesley69

    Typical Saul Alinsky Tactic at which the Community Organizer-in-Chief is good at.

    Let's be clear, there is no right to collective bargaining. It is not a fundamental right in the Constitution. It is granted by government. It can be taken away by government. At a time, it was needed. But even FDR recognized the danger of government employees organizing.

    In Wisconsin, when there was collective bargaining, the teachers union sat at the table, Democrat politicans sat at the table. As Obama’s Labor Secretary, Hilda Solis says, "All they’re really asking for, these workers, is the opportunity to sit down at the table, like grown-ups, and to work together to solve problems." But there should be a third seat at this table. This should be the taxpayer's seat!!!!!

    But, where are the taxpayers??? They were suppose to be represented by the government, but the politicans were only to happy to vote higher salaries, perks and pensions, all paid for by the taxpayer. In return, the politicans got votes, union endorsement and campaign money. For a long time, both the unions and Democrat politicans were making out like bandits, but now the day of reckoning is here.

    So, I ask, is this a fair system???? Naturally, Labor says Governor Walker is trying to break the unions. I would say, Walker is representing the Wisconsin taxpayer, who finally sits at the table. It is time to change the system. It is time to bail out the taxpayer.

  • Jim_C

    Did someone elect those politicians at the table, or did they magically appear? Did Wisconsin just recently discover Republicans?

    No, collective bargaining is not a Constitutional right and can be taken away. Yes, Wisconsin can elect representatives to do just that. And taxpayers can also elect those who support unions and collective bargaining. So who wasn't represented?

    • BoogiesDaddy

      The good news is that the non-public sector majority (taxpayers) are being represented NOW.

  • WRY

    What's the surprise. Obama told us during his campaign he was "WITH" SEIU and would fight for them. He is fighting for them. Opposing government unions was one of the few things FDR and Carter got right. Doesn't anyone see this heading toward "everyone" becoming a unionized government employee? It's called communism, or in the euphemism of today, "state capitalism."

  • http://www.therepublicrevealed.com/ Victor Laslow

    That’s right the unions are calling for a boycott of small businesses.
    Many small businesses that have been targeted (oops I used the word targeted. I guess its okay the unions are doing it) because some of the owners and staff in small business have donated to Governor Scott Walker and the Republican Party in Wisconsin. http://www.therepublicrevealed.com/forums/index.p

  • BoogiesDaddy

    Bill O'Reilley as well as Sean Hannity spent a lot of time focused on the Wall Street corruption issues when it was a current news topic.
    I suppose they are focused on the relationship between the public employees unions, state budgets and the Democratic party now because THAT is the current news topper.