Line in the sand: should Obama go to Wisconsin?

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>>> now, let’s talk about the politics of what’s happening in wisconsin. where do do the national parties stand on this? and how about the president? where is he? in an interview on thursday, president obama stood up for unions’ collective bargaining rights.

>> some of what i heard coming out of wisconsin where you’re just making it harder for em plies to collective bargain generally seems like an assault on unions.

>> all right, he’s getting into the game, i like that. but it turns out on “meet the press” this weekend lindsey graham responded, saying it was very inappropriate for the president to get in on this controversy. whoo i is why is it inappropriate? he’s the president. these are people protesting. who cares what graham thinks. but the white house cares. over the weekend, the white house and democratic party officials pushed back against criticism from republicans that mr. obama and his political network were meddling in the wisconsin dispute. he said that the white house had done nothing to encourage demonstrations in wisconsin. but why? why did you do nothing to encourage the demonstrations in wisconsin. why are you so proud of that? any little criticism by the right and they were like no, no, no it wasn’t us, it wasn’t us. we don’t support the workers. they run from every fight. get in there. and if you weren’t so sure about that interpretation, here’s dan pfeiffer. he says this is a wisconsin story, not a washington one. false game claims of white house involvement or attempts to distract from the organic grassroots opposition that’s happening in wisconsin. it’s not a washington plan. please, please, we would never support the workers’ unions. they would call us liberals. we wouldn’t do that. never us. by the way, president obama also froze federal employee sal rays raysrsalaries for two years. he wants to be seen as a guy who can do spending cuts. when the unions are protesting in wisconsin, i won’t is stand up for them at all. i’ll leave them hanging in the wind. god for gid senator graham should say i’m inappropriate. get in the fight. get in the fight. you’re our president. meddling? you’re our president! get in the fight. but he’s not going to do it. god forbid they call him a progressive or say he doesn’t cut spending enough or he’s in favor of the average working guy or the unions. those guys all voted for you. where are you? well, let me bring in ed rendell. he’s the former pennsylvania governor. now a political am list. as usual, am i being too tough on the president? or is this a pretty good time to say i’m on the size of the average guy?

>> i think you’re both right and wrong. i think you’re right, the president started out very good on thursday, and he should have come out with a strong statement saying no one should take away collective bargaining rights. those are rights that have made the middle class in this country what it is today. and they should be sacrosanct. and he started out well on thursday. he shouldn’t have backed away from that. but he shouldn’t inject himself in wisconsin or pennsylvania or any of the state where is this is going to happen. in 44 state the, there are deficits. and similar fights are going to be played out in all of those states. the reason why is we don’t want this to be about president obama. we want it to be about the policemen, the firemen, the nurses, the emts, the men and women who plow the snow off the roads in wisconsin. they’re the people who can engender real sympathy. we want this to be about ordinary working people essentially getting the short end of the stick. think about it. look, the union — and this is stunning. the union was willing to do the concessions necessary, additional pain on pensions and pensions and health care benefits. that’s a responsible stand. that’s all the governor should have asked for. and i heard governor walker say, this is what we campaigned on, and that’s why we won the election and the people expect us to do this. that’s not correct. you never campaigned saying you were going to get rid of collective bargaining in wisconsin. and, in fact, polls show a majority of people don’t want you to do it. so that’s a bad excuse. this is union busting. you have every right to go after cost cutting because we need it. and your point is right, we should balance it. but you don’t have the right to try to bust unions. that’s not what people voted for you for.

>> when he said he campaigned on it, he probably means i campaigned on it with the koch brothers.

>> he never said — he never said in a debate, and if you don’t elect me governor, i’m going to get collective bargaining out of the state of wisconsin. ironical ironically, the state which started collective bargaining. ‘.

>> he just spoke. we were carrying it. he talked about the 14 state senators who left. i want to roll that for you. let’s watch.

>> for those 14 democrats, you had your time. now it’s time to come home. you asked for time for the public to understand what’s in the bill. i don’t think you can find a single person at least in the state of wisconsin who couldn’t tell you they’re aware of what’s going on with this bill and what the debate is all about. the time is up and it’s time for them to come back and participate in democracy.

>> how do you react to that snf.

>> he’s putting up straw men. the governor tried to run this through. he never negotiated with the unions in the first place. never sat down and said look, what can we do here? number one. number two, they tried to ram this bill through. the senators have every right to stop this process. if the only way they can stop it is being out of state, that’s okay. and look, collective bargaining isn’t the root of the problem. they’re trying to say that municipalities and cities won’t be able to cut costs themselves unless we get rid of collective bargaining. that’s baloney. i’m not superman, but when i became mayor of the city of philadelphia, we faced the worst deficit in the history of the city of philadelphia. we took our benefits from 58 cents on the dollar, which was the highest in the city by far, no one was close to it in the private sector, no other public sector, down to 37 cents. but i did it through collective bargaining. we took our case to the people, the people supported us, there was a momentary strike and the union finally gave in. when i became governor, our workers did not pay anything — made no contribution to their health plan. they now pay 3% of their salaries. we won that through the collective bargaining process. go and make your point to the public. when you’re dealing with the public unions, the public is the arbitor of the last resort.

>> right. i’ve got to come back to president obama for one second here. look, my issue is here first of all, if he showed up, imagine how energized they would be. those are the guys who work for him who busted their ass for him, who voted for him. imagine if the president shows up, what a statement that would be. and for one side to say we’re going to cut and cut and cut. for the president saying there’s pint behind having unions and here’s why we have them and here’s why collective bargaining is important.

>> i agree with that. but i don’t think he should have showed up. ting he should have followed that hamm through. but he shouldn’t come to madison any more than maybe next month he shouldn’t come to harrisburg or the week after that to springfield or sacramento or whatever. he can’t inject himself into 44 different state fights. he should make –

>> but this is a big one. this is a big one.

>> but in my judgment, the way you win this battle sl to focus on your neighbors. and everyone who works in the private sector has a neighbor who’s a nurse who’s a policeman, who’s a fireman, who’s an emt. and those are the people who the ordinary folks in wisconsin are going to wind upsiding with. they’re not going to vied with a governor who’s being unfair because there isn’t shared sacrifice. how in the lord’s name can you ask for cuts like this and at the same time reduce business taxes? there’s a time for reducing taxes, but it isn’t now.

>> that’s exactly right.

>> and that’s the point we should be making in wisconsin. you’re doing all this on the backs of these people. and public workers aren’t your enemy. i’ve negotiated with public workers for 33 years. those negotiations are tough, but i know the vast majority are terrific. they work hard, they care about their state, their city. and they have families that care about the same things that ordinary folks care about.

>> of course. they’re regular citizens like everybody else. dehumanizing them is crazy.

>> if you want to demonize leadership, demonize leadership, but don’t demonize the ordinary rank and file policemen and firemen. one of tpolice mens i saw made the point after 9 snsh 11, everybody said what heroes they were, but that didn’t last very long, did it?

>> it appears it hasn’t lasted very long in wisconsin, that’s for sure.

About William Brighenti

William Brighenti is a Certified Public Accountant, Certified QuickBooks ProAdvisor, and Certified Business Valuation Analyst. Bill began his career in public accounting in 1979. Since then he has worked at various public accounting firms throughout Connecticut. Bill received a Master of Science in Professional Accounting degree from the University of Hartford, after attending the University of Connecticut and Central Connecticut State University for his Bachelor of Arts and Master of Arts degrees. He subsequently attended Purdue University for doctoral studies in Accounting and Quantitative Methods in Business. Bill has instructed graduate and undergraduate courses in Accounting, Auditing, and other subjects at the University of Hartford, Central Connecticut State University, Hartford State Technical College, and Purdue University. He also taught GMAT and CPA Exam Review Classes at the Stanley H. Kaplan Educational Center and at Person-Wolinsky, and is certified to teach trade-related subjects at Connecticut Vocational Technical Schools. His articles on tax and accounting have been published in several professional journals throughout the country as well as on several accounting websites. William was born and raised in New Britain, Connecticut, and served on the City's Board of Finance and Taxation as well as its City Plan Commission. In addition to the blog, Accounting and Taxes Simplified, Bill writes a blog, "The Barefoot Accountant", for the Accounting Web, a Sift Media publication.
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