February 28th, 2011
12:51 PM ET

Obama on labor standoff in Wisconsin

WASHINGTON (CNN) – President Obama today weighed in on the labor standoff in Wisconsin at his White House meeting with Republican and Democratic governors – all without saying the words “labor” or “union” or “Wisconsin.”

“I don’t think it does anybody any good when public employees are denigrated or vilified or their rights are infringed upon,” he said in his remarks.

We’re not going to attract the best teachers for our kids, for example, if they only make a fraction of what other professionals make. We’re not going to convince the bravest Americans to put their lives on the line as police officers or firefighters if we don’t properly reward that bravery. So yes, we need a conversation about pensions and Medicare and Medicaid and other promises we’ve made as a nation. Those will be tough conversations, but necessary conversations. As we make these decisions about our budget going forward, I believe that everyone should be at the table and that the concept of shared sacrifice should prevail. If all the pains borne by only one group – whether it’s workers or the seniors or the poor – while the wealthiest among us get to keep or get more tax breaks, we’re not doing the right thing.

It was a subtle take that may fall flat with die hard union supporters.

In a tweet to White House spokesman Jay Carney, Sharon Rossie questioned, “Why is Ppresident Obama not in Wisconsin standing up for the public employees?”

Carney’s response: “POTUS today: everyone has to give to help deal with budget challenges. But public employees should not be ‘denigrated’.”

Topics: President Obama • The News

« Previous entry
soundoff (3 Responses)
  1. Jerry

    As always, weak response from President...not leadership.....followup low level reply.

    March 1, 2011 at 8:45 am |
  2. Liz Carter in Georgia

    @Jerry; 'weak response'? That's your opinion; and they're like but+holes! Every 'butt' has one! I think the PRESIDNTS' response was strong, tactful, to the point and in good taste, as he spoke to the governors! (STATES) Unless I've been dreadfully under the wrong inmpression, I thought issues with STATE BOARDS OF EDUCATION fell under state auspices anyway! PRESIDENT OBAMA has enough with national healthcare, unemployment, LGBT issues, budget crisis, international issues and much more to deal with!

    March 1, 2011 at 5:41 pm |
  3. Clearbrook

    The President was as weak as he is because, as a politician, he has to weigh the likelihood of being tied to an albatross. If your poll has 25% Union Families, and 20% Public Service Families, and it still *just* barely can come up with a majority that supports the Public Service Unions on this, it tells you something. That man is not always smart, but he is not always stupid, either. I think he is just being smart, here. The Polls generally don't favor the Unions in this fight. Mr. Obama cannot spin it against an increasingly more sophisticated voting public. He has tried a few times and it backfired quite a bit. I think he is getting a little gun shy on some of the more Leftist Leaning Politics that he may even *want* to support more strongly.

    March 1, 2011 at 6:36 pm |