“Some of what I’ve heard coming out of Wisconsin, where they’re just making it harder for public employees to collectively bargain generally, seems like more of an assault on unions. I think everybody’s got to make some adjustments, but I think it’s also important to recognize that public employees make enormous contributions to our states and our citizens.”
—-President Obama, commenting on Wisconsin’s budget balancing measures, which will include ending collective bargaining by some public employee unions.
This an abuse of power. No doubt about it.
For all his vaunted intellect, the President has displayed a stunningly flat learning curve in acknowledging and respecting the limits of Presidential influence, otherwise known as “sticking your nose where it doesn’t belong” or “shooting of your mouth about something that is none of your damn business.” In less than three years in office, he has…
- …interfered with Cambridge, Mass. law enforcement, in the infamous Gates affair.
- …opined on the allocation of liability for a mine disaster while the matter was still being investigated.
- …prematurely pronounced BP liable for the Gulf Oil disaster before the matter had been duly investigated or litigated.
- …gotten involved with a local dispute in New York City over the propriety of placing a prominent Islamic center near the site of the 9-11 attacks.
- …commented derisively on an Arizona law, misrepresenting its provisions in the process.
- …criticized radio talk show hosts by name for exercising their rights of free speech
- …criticized a U.S. Supreme Court decision, misrepresenting that too.
Now he’s telling a state how to balance its budget, although he is not as familiar with the fiscal realities of that state as those charged with managing them, and though the Wisconsin electorate was properly alerted to the likelihood that Wisconsin state employees would have to sacrifice as part of the budget balancing process before they voted in a Republican governor and state legislator last November.
Wrong, wrong, wrong.
All of the earlier examples of unsolicited interference were an abuse of his office and influence. This one is arguably the worst of all. President Obama has no information that could justify assumptions about Governor Scott Walker’s plan, which will require state employees to start paying some, not all, of pension benefits that are far more generous than the average private sector employee receives. Wisconsin has a balanced budget mandate in the state constitution; isn’t it reasonable to assume that this is the motivation behind his efforts to cut back on the state employee benefits, rather than wanting to “assault” unions, you know…just to be mean? Rather than trying to turn public opinion against a responsible governor willing to brave the storm and actually make meaningful changes in the budget (that is, the kind that hurt and make interest groups angry), the President would be advised to tend to his own deficit management responsibilities. Governor Walker might be a good role model: for example, unlike Obama, he has never complained that the huge deficit he inherited was the fault of his predecessor.
Whatever the merits or deficiencies of the Wisconsin plan, the President of the United States is not a pundit, a blogger, an advice columnist, a consultant, a judge, a dictator, Mr. Know-It-All, or King. He is the leader of the nation and the federal government, with tremendous power to move public opinion on matters within his ambit of authority. That is a lot, but it isn’t everything. And because every statement by the President of the United States carries the weight of his high office, he can not responsibly shoot from the hip on any matter under the sun…especially state governance. Doing so, as he does habitually, shows a lack of respect for the responsibilities and authority of others, a lack of regard for proper process, a lack of fairness, and an ego bigger than the great outdoors.
No wonder Mrs. Obama thinks she is entitled to tell other women how to breastfeed. Meddling runs in the family.