RNC Chairman Thinks Wisconsin Fight Boosts GOP
Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus said the battle in Wisconsin between Republican Gov. Scott Walker and public employee unions will lead to a bigger national debate over fiscal responsibility in government and help the GOP in 2012.
“I’m proud of what Scott Walker did in Wisconsin,” Priebus said in an interview with Roll Call on Friday from his office in RNC headquarters. “I think that he is leading not only the state of Wisconsin, but he is leading this country, and we are going to have a debate as to whether we have a country with more people riding the wagon than driving the wagon.”
Walker signed a bill Friday that limits the collective bargaining rights for most public employees in the state. The governor said in a statement that the move will help the state balance its budget and save about 1,500 public employee jobs.
“The debate over these huge government unions, spending and priorities, and getting serious about the truth about our fiscal position both in Wisconsin and Washington, D.C., is what the American people deserve to hear,” Priebus said. “And I think this helped bring this debate to the forefront.”
President Barack Obama discussed the Congressional budget battle and the economy’s overall condition during a White House press conference later on Friday. He said the latest jobs report showed the people losing jobs were public employees, while the private sector showed strong growth.
The president also pointed a finger at Republican criticism of spending on items such as Head Start and public broadcasting, which he cited as political moves and not what is pushing the country further into debt. The focus, he said, must be on entitlement programs.
Priebus, though, said the president has not followed through on making the federal government fiscally responsible and could pay for that come November 2012.
“The issue in relation to debt, spending and jobs is Barack Obama’s biggest vulnerability,” Priebus said. “I think the fact that we are on a trajectory in this country of spending 42 cents on every dollar made in America to run the federal government is a place that the American people do not want to see us head into. And I think that’s going to be an issue in this election.”
David M. Drucker and Steve Peoples contributed to this report.