Addressing governors from around the country at the White House this morning, President Obama dedicated a moment of his speech to warning them not to vilify public workers.
“I believe that everybody should be prepared to give up something to solve our budget challenges,” Obama said. “In fact, many public employees in your respective states have already agreed to cuts. But let me also say this: I don’t think it does anybody any good when public employees are denigrated or vilified or when their rights are infringed upon.”
Thousands of public employees have protested in Wisconsin and Ohio as Republicans have proposed stripping them of some collective bargaining rights, as part of new state budget plans. Pensions and compensation to unionized state and municipal workers have come under increasing fire from conservatives during the past year.
“We need to attract the best and brightest to public service,” Obama said. “We’re not going to attract the best teachers for our kids if they only make a fraction of what other professions make … Yes, we need a conversation about pensions and Medicare and Medicaid and other promises that we’ve made as a nation, and those will be tough conversations and necessary conversations.”
Not liking that last part, though. If we have to keep promises to bankers to allow them to keep their obscene bonuses, well, you won’t get away with swatting the rest of us away.