Appearing Friday afternoon on Fox News, Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN) invoked the specter of Greece’s financial collapse, and the bold example of how President Reagan fired striking air traffic controllers in the 80s, as examples of how Wisconsin Republicans should hold strong against the public employee unions and teachers who have called in sick in protest of Republican Gov. Scott Walker’s budget and its anti-public union proposals.
In an otherwise very friendly interview, FOX’s Megyn Kelly briefly took the devil’s advocate position and told Bachmann that the unions would say they’re being treated unfairly, with a bill being rushed through that would undo decades of protections, and that they have the support of the White House and the protestors in Madison. So what would Bachmann say to that?
“They have the support of the White House. But I don’t believe that they have the support of the people of Wisconsin,” Bachmann responded. “Again, remember what we’re talking about. These are public servants — they serve the people of Wisconsin.“In Greece, for instance, in the streets, what we saw were beneficiaries of government checks, who took to the streets because the retirement age was going to be raised from 61 to 63,” Bachmann continued. “In this instance, Eric Bolling was on earlier showing that this is simply, a contribution is being asked on the part of public servants, to pay for part of their health insurance. Not even the full part that their private sector counterparts pay for, and part of their pension. This is something that happens everyday in the private sector.”
So now we are at the tipping point. This debate needed to come, it’s good that it came. What’s shocking is that the White House is weighing in, taking sides, and bringing in a campaign apparatus to set this up.
If we look back to what President Reagan did, President Reagan fired the air traffic controllers. We’re now on day three of Wisconsin teachers leaving their post, and leaving the children that they are tasked to serve, and not teaching them, so that they can go out and protest, so they can make more money.
This is beyond conscionable, and I’m urging Governor Walker and the legislators to hang tough, because I believe the people are with the governor and with the legislature.”
Under Walker’s plan, as TPM has reported, most state workers would no longer be able to negotiate for better pensions or health benefits or anything other than higher salaries, which couldn’t rise at a quicker pace than the Consumer Price Index. Walker and state Republican leaders have said the plan to limit the collective bargaining rights of state employees is necessary to deal with the state’s budget shortfall.
According to the Associated Press: “The proposal would effectively remove unions’ right to negotiate in any meaningful way. Local law enforcement and fire employees, as well as state troopers and inspectors would be exempt.”
As a result of the controversy, the state Capitol has been filled with protestors all week, and many schools have shut down due to teachers calling in sick en masse.