In it, but not of it. TPM DC

Obama: Wisconsin Gov's Plan Seems Like 'Assault On Unions'

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Newscom

Obama's answer:

Well I'd say that I haven't followed exactly what's happening with the Wisconsin budget. I've got some budget problems here in Washington that I've had to focus on. I would say, as a general proposition, that everybody's gotta make some adjustments to new fiscal realities. And I think if we want to avoid layoffs -- which I want to avoid, I don't want to see layoffs of hard-working federal workers.

We had to impose, for example, a freeze on pay increases for federal workers for the next two years, as part of my overall budget freeze. You know, I think those kinds of adjustments are the right thing to do.

On the other other hand, some of what I've heard coming out of Wisconsin -- where you're just making it harder for public employees to collectively bargain, generally -- seems like more of an assault on unions.

And I think it's very important for us to understand that public employees, they're our neighbors, they're our friends. 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, and make a big contribution, and I think it's important not to vilify them, or to suggest that somehow all these budget problems are due to public employees.

So, I think everybody's gotta make some adjustments, but I think it's also important to recognize that public employees make enormous contributions to the well being of our states and our cities.