Tom Foreman | BIO
Reporter's Note: The president’s team is apparently weighing in on the clash in Wisconsin over budget cuts. Meanwhile, I’m cautioning in today’s letter that even presidents have to pick their fights.
Dear Mr. President,
As you know, I am usually quite encouraging, but there are times when I feel the need to sound a note of caution. This is one of those.
I have been watching the kerfuffle in Wisconsin over the state’s budget and planned cuts to various employees and their pension plans. And I’m not entirely sure if your team ought to be weighing in on this the way they apparently are, in terms of encouraging the organization of opposition.
Hear me out. You have every right, of course, to do whatever you want. You are, after all, the president. I can understand the urge to protect the jobs of government workers, especially those who belong to unions which supported your candidacy. I can even respect the suspicion of many Democrats that this is a sneaky move by the Republicans to attack the unions in the name of budget woes.
My main concern is just this: There are a lot of states with serious budget problems (heck, almost all of them) and whatever good intentions you may have in apparently stepping up in Wisconsin, what are you going to do when the next one, and the next one, and the next one rolls around?
Most states have already made hard cuts in recent years. And they are going to have to make more - even if they raise taxes and even if they trim the least immediately impactful programs first. Against that reality, a lot of governors and state legislators - and not just the Republican ones - are going to chafe at the idea of Washington wading in with a lot of pronouncements about what they should or should not do.
After all, it’s not like D.C. has proven particularly adept at handling the federal budget’s problems. And, btw, it’s worth remembering that the people making these decisions up in Wisconsin were elected just like you were. The people of that state chose them to deal with their state’s budget issues, not to simply step aside and let outsiders - including the D.C. crowd - take the reins.
You’ve said that fixing the economy is going to require all of us to make sacrifices. It doesn’t look good for any president to say that and then appear to be putting his thumb on the scales to help his political friends avoid that very fate.
Maybe I’m misreading all of this. Maybe what you are attempting there is necessary, smart, and right. What I’m saying is that it is not clear that such is the case. And I fear if you continue down this path, you may find a lot of voters saying if you wanted to be a governor, you should have run for that office instead of the one you hold.
Not wrecking on you. Just a few observations.
Hope all is well. Call if you can.
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