Obama leadership becomes issue in Wisconsin row

WASHINGTON, DC - MARCH 24:   Representative Jo...Image by Getty Images via @daylife
Caucus Blog, NY Times:

President Obama and his political rivals in Washington have jumped into the epic battle in Wisconsin between organized labor and the state’s newly elected Republican governor over the rights and benefits of state workers.

Efforts by Scott Walker, the state’s Republican governor, to slash collective-bargaining rights of public employees prompted days of protests at the state capitol by thousands of union workers, fueled and organized in part by Mr. Obama’s own political apparatus in Washington.

Even as Democratic lawmakers in Wisconsin fled their own state in an attempt to stall a vote in the Republican-controlled state senate, Mr. Obama decried the tactics of Mr. Walker as “an assault on unions.”

That prompted House Speaker John Boehner to rip into Mr. Obama, accusing him of having “unleashed the Democratic National Committee to spread disinformation and confusion in Wisconsin.”

Mr. Boehner, in a statement, praised Mr. Walker and other Republican governors for making the tough decisions to cut spending. And he chided the president for siding with the wrong side in the contentious Wisconsin debate.

“Rather than shouting down those in office who speak honestly about the challenges we face, the president and his advisers should lead. Until they do, they are not focusing on jobs, and they are not listening to the American people who put them in power.”

The sharp-edged retorts from Mr. Obama and Mr. Boehner reflect the broader debate in the nation’s capital as Democrats and Republicans dig in to rigid positions about spending, investment, the deficit and changes to entitlement programs.

In the next two weeks, Democrats and Republicans in Washington are set to play a game of chicken with the federal budget. The government’s authority to spend money runs out on March 4 and could force a shutdown in federal services unless the parties can agree on a new spending plan.

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There have been some suggestions that the Obama Organizing for America gang is behind the Wisconsin tumult. I think Obama sees this as an opportunity to energize a dispirited Democrat base. It also has the potential to backfire on the Democrats because he is choosing the side of bureaucrats and teachers over voters and taxpayers. It is also putting him on the side of a very uncivil attack on Gov. Walker with the kinds of images Democrats were condemning just a few weeks ago.

There is also the issue of how serious Obama is about dealing with government deficits. He appears to be on the side of the deficits.
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