February 18th, 2011
06:00 PM ET

Why Wisconsin matters for President Obama

CNN Political Unit

Washington (CNN) - President Obama knows that the ongoing budget protests in Wisconsin are just round one in the national battle for control of the budget message. So he's reportedly sent his outside political team, Organizing for America, to help build even larger crowds.

It's something that drew ire from House Speaker John Boehner on Friday.

"His political organization is colluding with special-interest allies across the country to demagogue reform-minded governors who are making the tough choices that the president is avoiding," Boehner said in a statement. "Rather than inciting protests against those who speak honestly about the challenges we face, the president and his advisers should lead."

When asked about the situation in Wisconsin, White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said aboard Air Force One on Friday that Obama is "very understanding" for state governments and politicians to "reduce spending to make tough choices to be fiscally responsible."

"He's doing that at the federal level, and he understands that states need to do that at the state level," Carney added. "But he also feels very strongly that we need not to make this an assault on the collective bargaining rights of workers in any given state. He understands public employees need to make sacrifices just like everyone else."

Wisconsin's Republican Gov. Scott Walker, staring at a $3.6 billion state deficit, says he needs to cut somewhere.

And he's getting cover from Boehner, who, like the president, knows that Wisconsin is really just a proxy for their own showdown coming March 4 - when funding for the federal government runs out and a possible shutdown is looming.

Full story

Filed under: 360° Radar • Raw Politics
soundoff (25 Responses)
  1. Bruce Randall

    I was really disappointed that you did not respond to and allowed Ed Rollins, a panelist on your show to say that the situation in madison Wisconsin – the fight for the mere existence of the middle and low income class is only a local issue and that Obama has no business getting involved in the matter. I expect that coming from Ed Rollins,he has always has been an extremist Republican and views people as a machine – just something to be controlled and operated but I don't expect that viewpoint from you and I don't understand why he has appeared on many different news talk shows as a panelist/analyst and is allowed to constantly make false statements and statements that are anti human. He has no human aspect of life and has no human feelings. The situation in Madison is global and is funded by the Illuminati and the global elitists like the Koch brothers and others and is being perpetrated by the Republicans nation wide (the global elitists paid puppets) while the Democrats just sit and watch. Their goal is to depopulate and you news people know this but are not reporting this to the people and they have the right to know what is really going on.

    February 19, 2011 at 5:08 am |
  2. Heidi Bootz

    Fact: public unions that supported WI governor's election are not included in the governor's proposed budget cuts. Includes fire & police unions, responsible for 70% of state spending on public employee benefits. Very important in understanding nature of governor's arguments.

    February 19, 2011 at 3:48 am |
  3. J.V.Hodgson

    This debate moves target from the right of certain state employees to strike ( it would be unconstitutional to restict it in my opinion) to a question of pay and benefit cut backs or freezes. Those two issues are not synonymous thay are miles apart, but this article makes it appear as though they are the same.
    If Wisconsin is proposing a $3.6bn deficit, then a lot of that has to be Medicaid and Medicare. The state can borrow money to fund that deficit,but Republican governors (and GOP HQ) are fighting a rearguard action against Health care reform a) in the courts which they should lose legally speaking,b) at state level saying they can't afford medicare and Medicaid which as yet only minor changes/ costs are attributable to the new Health care law, the big changes come later.
    c) Attacking Unions is a relative side show but designed to keep health care people from striking for fair pay.
    So hey Scott Governor of Wisconsin how about freezing all government pay in your state and asking state reps and senators to freeze thier pay and pay thier own health care, and if you have not done it in wisconsin change all State Pension entitlements to Defined contribution rather than defined benefit.

    February 19, 2011 at 3:31 am |
  4. frederick r lyons

    mr.cooper on wisconsin issue the governor tell the people he wanted to do away with the unions.he wants to cut taxs by about 1.2 billion ,i agree the unions should pay more on their benefits but you don't disband the unions.the governor here in michigan said he would make cuts in the budget but he want to cut business taxs ture they needed to be cut buthe is rising taxs on the senors pensions.i agree goverment employees are out of controlthat need to be rein in repubilicans. all the repubilicans can say is cut taxs cut public programs and cut waste but not in their districts.we need to rise the age on medicare and social security . and uncap the fica taxs.

    February 19, 2011 at 3:14 am |
  5. Freddie Barber

    I don't know your previous guest's name but he stated that the elected governor of Wisconsin is simply doing what he was elected to do and is within his right to union bust at all costs and that the president has no right to weigh in since he has his own problems. Does he feel that the president would then be within his rights to do what his base elected him to do and pushed forward only liberal agenda and not bend to the desires of the super rich?

    I have heard this same guest criticise the president on other programs when he does not weigh in on issues of other countries that might not be to Israel's interest. Who is this guy to tell the president when to comment on issues not within his jurisdiction and when not to? Seems many shows want this guy's opinion. Why?

    February 19, 2011 at 2:36 am |
  6. Richard Martinez

    You need deeper knowledge about why Rep Govs are going after Unions. Again,talk with R Maddow about funding by Coke Bros and Carl Rowe/s/. Going after unions destroys middleclass and assures Rep wins in future elections. There was a surplus in Wis when this Gov took over a couple of weeks ago. Have your staff look into this for your own knowledge.

    February 19, 2011 at 1:06 am |
  7. Mark

    Why doesn't the Governor of Wisconsin take out the part of the bill/budget referencing the right to collective bargaining, if he did he would already have passed his budget.

    February 18, 2011 at 11:58 pm |
  8. Bob

    Wisconsin is not about the budget deficit.
    The deficit is a fabricated crisis that the republicans intend to exploit in order to crush unions, to crush the Democratic party, and to crush democracy itself.

    February 18, 2011 at 11:45 pm |
  9. J. Scott

    I just saw your show. Even after your own reporter said it wasn't about the money, you ended by saying there would be more about this budget battle later.

    This is about Union busting, not a budget!


    February 18, 2011 at 11:44 pm |
  10. Gene Owens

    This is on the news everywhere. I havent seen any news outlet provide any facts on how much the teachers make a year compared to what they pay into to the state (tax payers). Do they pay anything toward retirement and health benefits.

    February 18, 2011 at 11:30 pm |
  11. heidi

    all the middle eastern protests have inspired us here in America to fight and protest for our rights. No more right wing fascism. It is time to get rid of corporate control over our govt. Check out citizens united with Russ Feingold. WE are the change we have been waiting for.

    February 18, 2011 at 11:23 pm |
  12. hjmee

    Gov. Walker is applying abusive power. A state does not balance their budget on the backs of the middle class, while allocating tax cuts to big business. In his campaign, which was funded by resources outside Wisconsin (Can you say, "Koch Industries and TEA party contributors?") he was not forthcoming in how he was going to balance the budget.

    Many teachers realize that they will need to contribute more to health insurance and their pension plans. However, teachers already do contribute to their insurance and pension. The public forgets that pay for teachers is very low, especially compared to the private sector. Although our friends at ABC Good Morning America, shared "facts" about public workers making more than private sector workers. What is ironic is this show forgot to mention that many of the private sector businesses provide bonuses, matching funds for retirement programs and more aggressive pay raises.

    I have heard so much criticism about how teachers should be in the classroom, instead of protesting – if we don't stand up for ourselves, who will?? Our union leaders can not stand alone in this because many of them are also classroom teachers!

    However, the BIG issue is not about pay, but about dismantling unions and limiting workers rights. Without the union, teachers will have no voice. If the teacher's union is dismantled, the remaining unions will slowly be dismantled, too.

    February 18, 2011 at 11:17 pm |
  13. J. Scott

    The Wisconsin public unions have conceded all the financial cuts asked for by Walker, yet he refuses to eliminate the elimination of collective bargaining for state workers and other anti union provisions from his bill. It is about union busting, not deficit reduction.

    Walker gave businesses tax breaks equal to the savings from concessions by state and teacher unions. It is not about deficit reduction it is also about rewarding his business political base.

    Anderson Cooper made it sound tonight like this is a squabble over money. Get it straight Anderson, this is an extreme far right agenda to bust public unions that have existed under Wisconsin law for 50 years. You need some people on the ground in Wisconsin and the guts to call it as it is.

    February 18, 2011 at 11:13 pm |
  14. Adam S.

    As a teacher in Illinois, I stand with the teachers, firefighters, nurses, and other workers in Wisconsin. This attack on their rights is an attack on all of our rights. Keep fighting Wisconsin!

    February 18, 2011 at 11:10 pm |
  15. scott in Illinois

    Our elected State and Federal government officials need to show the people the way to fix our broken budgets. Lead by example, . Cut all elected government salaries by 5-10% and make those elected contribute to their own pension system. Perhaps a good-faith effort by those responsible for these financial fiascos would show the populace, most of whom are forced to make sacrifices, that they are willing to sacrifice as well.

    February 18, 2011 at 11:05 pm |
  16. Rich

    The Wisconsin Governor insists on eliminating collective bargaining...the excuse that there is a budget deficit is not new...the last administration had 8 years to screw up, and now, they want to eliminate any negotiations.
    This union-busting is a trial against greed, hypocracy and workers needs...if employers were not so revengeful and greedy, this would have never been necessary. But it is, and collective bargaining must be observed...Big business has no intention of doing that.

    February 18, 2011 at 11:04 pm |
  17. Cherry

    The citizens of Wisconsin has the right to recall the governor'election.

    February 18, 2011 at 10:58 pm |
  18. Vishwa Aggarwal

    It is shame that US president can interfere in the affairs of every country (cheered by Republicans) but in the states of his own country

    February 18, 2011 at 10:58 pm |
  19. Kelvin

    How can some body with a straight face say that Pres. Obama should stay out of Wisconsin politics and just a few weeks ago some people attack the President on moving to slow on the situation in Egypt?

    February 18, 2011 at 10:57 pm |
  20. mark from wisconsin

    Mr.Anderson, I hope this ends soon but thank you for taking my e-mails I wish you the the I like your show. But this "mob" quote your guest said is not right you need to be here , or the one's who are being hurt to see.

    February 18, 2011 at 10:54 pm |
  21. Lisa s

    This should not be so political. How would laying off 6,000 teacher's help the community. This is turning American against American. The politicans are only pouring gas on the flames. They don't really care about anything but their own power. Other people all over the world are fighting for freedom we have and are wasting it. We need for a statesmen or two to step up. Please

    February 18, 2011 at 10:46 pm |
  22. mark from wisconsin

    hi, anderson , please do not let anyone lie to you about the facts , its real simple and the unions will pay more for insurance and other cuts. If mr. walker would just drop the unwarnented attack on unions this would end .Please forgive my spelling iam watching your show and other shows to see who tells the truth, and gives fair balance to this serious matter in wisconsin. This union busting bill will ruin my great state. Please be fair

    February 18, 2011 at 10:45 pm |
  23. Richard

    If it is really all about the deficit why doesn't Walker stop giving corporations tax breaks, and leave out the anti-collective bargining rules.

    It seems like the same guys that just told us that the $250K plus crowd couldn't pay a few marginal more points in taxes are now telling us that a 13% hit to $25K and $50 K guys is a modest hit.

    Sorry it just does not seem like shared sacrfice.

    February 18, 2011 at 10:15 pm |
  24. david bidlack

    wisconsin matters to the whole country not just the president. whats going on in the middle east is more about living standards and the high unemployment than about freedom. we might be seeing more than teachers stricking in wisconsin we might be seeing the start of a national broad based strick about the fact that american incomes have been flat for 25 years and unemployment is high! in middle eastern countries you have ruling famillies and a small wealthy class of people running the country! here we have the top 1% controlling most of the wealth. it would seem that their are some very angry people in this country that have had enough of goverment by big business for big business to the benifit of 1% of the people! "feed them cake" doesn't work anymore!

    February 18, 2011 at 9:46 pm |
  25. MARIA

    The fact that the President and his political team have stuck their noses in the WI's union battle just shows Obama just doesn't get it and just how tied his political career is to the unions!
    State and government workers make more than their private sector peers. Why do they feel entitled to over 40K a year in benefits! Every other worker pays a heck of a lot more than what they are being asked to! Many states are going to need to do what Governor Walker is going to get done just to survive! And all those teachers who called out sick should be ashamed of themselves and be fired just like the air traffic controllers were!
    Enough is Enough!

    February 18, 2011 at 8:37 pm |