Powerhouse Roundtable: Obama Quicker Denouncing Gov. Walker than Mubarak

VIDEO: The Roundtable on Unions and the Tea Party
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Thousands in the streets protesting. Chanting workers, young and old, taking over a government building and grinding activity to a halt. Lawmakers fleeing. An executive standing firm in face of the revolt.

It's not the Middle East -- it's Wisconsin.

Gov. Scott Walker, R-Wis., proposed legislation substantially diminishing the collective bargaining rights and benefits of unionized workers, a move that resulted in massive protests from public sector unions that have brought legislative activity in the state to a standstill.

President Obama weighed in on the issue on Wednesday, calling Walker's legislation "an assault on unions."

In a powerhouse roundtable with George F. Will, Democratic strategist Donna Brazile, ABC Senior Political Correspondent Jon Karl and freshman Rep. Steve Southerland, R-Fla., "This Week" anchor Christiane Amanpour asked about the implications of the president injecting himself into a state dispute.

"The president was quicker and more forceful of his denouncement of Gov. Scott Walker than he was of denouncing Hosni Mubarak," Karl said. "Madison, Wisconsin -- the state of Wisconsin -- this is arguably ground zero for the 2012 presidential campaign. Look, this is a state if President Obama loses, he's almost certainly going to not win re-election."

Karl pointed out that the state had swung significantly Republican in 2010.

"Democrats see the momentum and see real danger signs for next year," he said.

"In the span of three days," George Will told Amanpour, the president "first submits a budget that would increase the federal deficit. Two days later, he mobilizes his party and his own political machine ... to sabotage Wisconsin's attempt to do what he will not do, which is deal with the insolvency of their government."

Brazile, who ran Al Gore's losing campaign for President in 2000, took issue with Will's characterization of the protest.

"The fact is," Brazile said, "this is a grassroots movement that had nothing to do with people or politicians in Washington, D.C.," she said. "This has everything to do with the workers there in Wisconsin and all across the country who are feeling the effects of these draconian budget cuts."

Southerland, the newly-elected U.S. Representative from Florida's second district, said the conflagration in Wisconsin is happening because states are required, by law, to balance their budgets.

He said he was in favor requiring a balanced budget each year at the federal level as well.

"The American family is learning they have to do more with less and the same expectation, I think, is fair of the governments, both state and federal," Southerland said.

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