Rep. Baldwin: ‘Similarities’ – Though Limited – Between Egypt and Wisconsin

Feb 18, 2011 2:53pm

ABC News’ Rick Klein reports:

The juxtaposition of worldwide events has brought Egyptian imagery to Wisconsin this week. Some protesters have gone so far as to attack the Badger State’s governor as “Hosni Walker” — a reference that links Gov. Scott Walker, R-Wis., to the ousted longtime Egyptian president, Hosni Mubarak.

On ABC’s “Top Line” today, we asked Rep. Tammy Baldwin, D-Wis., who represents Wisconsin’s capital, Madison – where the protests against proposed budget cuts have been playing out — whether such comparisons are appropriate. 

“I think the similarities are that people are wanting to be heard, and they are taking direct action,” Baldwin told us. “They are coming to Madison — they’re holding events all throughout the states.”

“People want to be heard, and they feel like they’re being ignored by their governor. I think the analogy ends there. What we’re dealing with in Wisconsin is a measure that was introduced late last Friday, just a week ago, and the intent was to jam it through, and perhaps even be done with the debate by yesterday. And everyone said, ‘Hold on. There’s radical policy in this budget bill and we need the time to discuss it and the people need to be heard.’ ”

Democrats in the state Senate, Baldwin said, “took prudent steps to slow down this debate” by leaving the state and denying Republicans the quorum they’d need to act on the governor’s budget-cutting proposal.

The proposal would include a significant benefits reduction for public employees. Baldwin said national Republicans are planning a similar “attack” on public workers.

“I do see some similarities in terms of — we’ve got to balance budgets, but we’ve got to be smart about it. And in Wisconsin being smart about it means involving all the voices including that of organized labor, public servants, to help come together to address our challenges.”

But don’t look for similar scenes of protests in Washington, Baldwin said.

“One of the problems though is that national government is less accessible to the people than state government,” he said. “It’s easier for people to get to their state capitals to voice their opinion. I’m certainly hearing from my constituents about the deep cuts that we’re looking at this week, though.”

Watch the interview with Rep. Tammy Baldwin HERE.

We also aired a portion of Jonathan Karl’s latest “Subway Series” interview, with Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, who warned that Republicans need to avoid “the arrogance of power” if they’re going to hold on to power in Washington. 

Watch the segment with Sen. Rob Portman HERE.

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