Obama Provides Support to Unions in State Battles

~ Government unions are, by definition, anti-taxpayer special-interest groups. ~

On Wednesday, February 16, President Obama referred to the Wisconsin budget repair bill as "…an assault on unions." This President was wrong to make such a statement. His comments can only be interpreted to mean the Wisconsin public-sector unions are right and the state’s government is wrong.

The reason Obama committed an error in judgment in making the statement is this: the interview was an interview with the President of the United States, not with someone named Barack H. Obama, private citizen. As President, Obama has a duty to uphold the Office of the President. When the President speaks, he speaks from a position of authority as the nation’s Chief Executive. Making public comments, especially opinions, which support one side of a political argument at the state level, can only be interpreted as the federal government taking sides in state issues.

The federal government has no authority to intervene in internal state matters. Aside from not being granted such authority in the Constitution, performing such actions is beneath the Office of the President and an affront to federalism. This President doesn’t get that. For someone who is supposed to be a constitutional scholar, his actions indicate he either doesn’t understand federalism or doesn’t care about it.

If he doesn’t understand federalism, he’s potentially dangerous to our form of government. If he doesn’t care about federalism, he’s a threat to our form of government. Either way, it displays a weakness in the Executive Office. Why would any sane politician believe that having unions represent government employees through collective bargaining is a good idea?

Here are the President’s remarks in context. I have underlined the most telling lines in his statement.

"As a general proposition, that, everybody’s got to make some adjustments to new fiscal realities. Uh, and, I think if, uh, if we want to avoid layoffs, which I want to avoid, I don’t want to see layoffs of, uh, hard-working federal workers…we had to impose for example, a, a freeze, uh, on pay increases for federal workers for the next two years as part of my overall budget freeze. Uh, you know, I think that those kinds of adjustments are the right thing to do. On the other hand, uh, some of what I’ve heard coming out of Wisconsin, where, uh, you’re just making it harder for public employees to collectively bargain generally, uh, seems like more of an assault on unions.Uh, and I think it’s very important for us to understand that public employees, they’re our neighbors. They’re our friends. Uh, these are folks who are teachers, and they’re firefighters, and they’re social workers, and they’re police officers,... you know, they make a lot of sacrifices, make a big contribution, and I think it’s important not to vilify them, uh or, to suggest that somehow all these budget problems are due to, uh, public employees."

Instead of giving the impression that he sides with unions and against the state of Wisconsin, the President should have replaced the underlined portion of his remarks above with the following (or something similar):

"As for what’s going on in Wisconsin, that’s entirely a state matter; a matter not under the purview of any branch of the federal government, including the Executive Branch. Therefore, I have no comment except to say I wish both sides a speedy resolution to the issues at hand. Children should be in class, being taught by the professionals who have dedicated themselves to educating them. ...

The statement he should have made would have told the American people that he understands that the specific issues in Wisconsin are those of Wisconsin alone and are of no concern of the federal government. It would also have shown that he actually cares about the education our children receive. So, what does the President’s statement reveal? It indicated he neither cares for nor believes in states’ rights. It revealed his belief that government workers have a right to better compensation than their private-sector counterparts. It also revealed that he doesn’t care about the education our children are receiving. Finally, it reveals his full support of unions’ desire to impose socialist policies upon Americans.

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker:

"We’re focused on balancing our budget. It would be wise for the President and others in Washington to focus on balancing their budget, which they’re a long way from doing. …"

Governor Walker was right to point out that the President has his own budget issues and should be focusing on those instead of weighing in on state issues.

Mr. President, if you honestly care about the direction in which our nation is headed, do you really think it is good policy to have public-sector employees represented by unions? I don’t, and I’m One Black American who understands the federal government has no authority to intervene in internal state issues. Governor Walker is right, Mr. President. You have problems at the federal level. Your priority should be dealing with your own issues. Stop getting involved in state issues!