TPM News

As Democratic legislators flee the Wisconsin state capitol in protest of Republican Gov. Scott Walker's proposed budget and its limits on bargaining powers for public employee unions, one of Wisconsin's most prominent progressive leaders is coming out swinging.

Former Rep. David Obey (D-WI), a 41-year veteran of the House, the former chairman of the Appropriations Committee and an icon in Wisconsin politics, assailed Gov. Scott Walker for engaging in "political thuggery" and accused him of channeling toppled Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak before his fall.

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House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) is watching events in Wisconsin, and he's come to this conclusion: the thousands of union workers packing the Capitol are wrong and the governor is right.

In a statement to reporters this afternoon, Bohener said that Walker's plan to eliminate the collective bargaining rights of Wisconsin teacher, nurses and other workers is just the kind of thing Boehner's majority is trying to accomplish in Washington.

"Republicans in Congress - and reform-minded GOP governors like Scott Walker, John Kasich [OH] and Chris Christie [NJ] - are daring to speak the truth about the dire fiscal challenges Americans face at all levels of government, and daring to commit themselves to solutions that will liberate our economy and help put our citizens on a path to prosperity," Boehner said.

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The Sergeant at Arms of the Wisconsin state Senate has finished searching the Democratic senators' offices, WisPolitics reports, and was unable to turn up the Dems after they walked out in order to block a quorum required to bring a vote on Republican Gov. Scott Walker's budget and its controversial anti-public union provisions.

The office of the state Senate majority leader -- who has said that the State Patrol could be called in to round up the Dems -- have said that police have not yet been sent outside the building. It has also been reported that the 14 Dem legislators have left the state entirely, so that the State Patrol would be unable to force them back to the chamber

TPM SLIDESHOW: Born To Run: Wisconsin Senate Dems Flee State To Block Anti-Union Bill
(Fun fact: State Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald and Assembly Speaker Jeff Fitzgerald are brothers -- and the new head of the State Patrol is Steve Fitzgerald, their father.)

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Sen. Jim DeMint (R-SC) doesn't think President Barack Obama should be considered the leader of the United States of America.

During a speech covering the national debt, earmarks, the 2012 Presidential election and the repeal of the health care law on Thursday, DeMint told members of the D.C. chapter of the conservative Federalist Society, "This whole idea that the President is the leader of our country is a mistake."

DeMint added, "Leadership starts in the homes in the communities, in businesses, in churches. I've lived in a community and I know where the leaders are and it's not in Washington. And this pretense that he's our nation's leader... I'm not just talking about Obama I'm talking about any President."

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Over the course of a week, national attention has turned to Wisconsin. There, a definitional battle between Democratic backed state workers and anti-union Republicans will play out over the course of days, amid the most impassioned protests the country has seen since the anti-health care rallies of August 2009.

But just across the Great Lakes in nearby Ohio, where Republicans swept control of government in November, a similar fight is brewing.

There, the state senate is holding hearings on Bill 5, which would end collective bargaining for state workers and severely limit those rights at the local level.

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For Rep. Jeff Flake (R-AZ), people who don't believe President Barack Obama was born in the United States "ought to get off this kick".

On CNN's American Morning, Flake responded to a poll that found that 51% of likely Republican primary voters don't believe President Obama was born in the U.S. Only 28% of people who say they were voting in the primary believe that Barack Obama was born in the United States, while 28 % say they were unsure.

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