The Hill (Link) - Jordan Fabian (February 18, 2011)
Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R) says his party has been emboldened by massive protests against his controversial budget plan.
Walker said demonstrators who filled the state capitol building in Madison and the boycott by state Senate Democrats � some of whom fled the state in protest � have steeled the resolve of members of his party.
�If anything, I think it�s made the Republicans in the Assembly and the Senate stronger,� he told Fox News�s Greta Van Susteren in an interview Thursday night. �They�re not going to be bullied. They�re not going to be intimidated.�
Walker also fired back at President Obama, who sided with the public employees, saying on Fox News Friday, �We are focused on balancing our budget. It would be wise for the government and others in Washington to focus on balancing their budgets, which they are a long way off from doing.�
The unrest in Wisconsin has attracted attention from national lawmakers and political figures, who have incorporated the state�s tussle over Walker�s budget proposal into the debate over the federal government�s fiscal woes.
Public-sector workers are upset with the plan, which calls on them to pay to receive pension and health benefits and removes collective bargaining rights for some.
House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) issued a statement backing Walker�s proposal, saying governors like Walker �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.�
AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka, meanwhile, has called the plan an �assault� on the middle class and compared Walker�s plan to drastic cuts House Republicans in Washington want to make.
�This federal budget madness echoes pound-foolish actions we�re seeing in state after state, where Republican legislators and governors elected with lucrative CEO support are ignoring the jobs crisis and playing politics as usual with the lives of working families,� he wrote in a Huffington Post op-ed.
Wisconsin Democrats in Congress have called for the plan to be taken off the table. President Obama on Thursday weighed in, also accusing Walker of waging an �assault� on unions.
Walker�s words are his latest attempt to goad state Democrats back to the capitol to vote on his plan. He held a press conference on Thursday afternoon, urging them to return to the state after some fled to neighboring Illinois in order to avoid state law enforcement from bringing them back to Madison.
Asked if he has the authority to retrieve them out-of-state, Walker said, �That�s a really big question for us.
�I mean, the bottom line is very � very much similar to when you�ve had redistricting battles, lawmakers go to other states, as well, from other states,� he said. �I think in Texas and Oklahoma years ago, that happened. Again, I hope it doesn�t get to that. That would be ridiculous.� �
America ~ Economic Crisis ~ Obama