Speaker Boehner Praises Wis. Gov’s “Courageous Action,” Rips President’s Failure to Lead

By John R Parkinson

Feb 17, 2011 4:44pm

ABC News’ John R. Parkinson reports: 

Speaker of the House John Boehner today credited Wisconsin’s Republican Governor Scott Walker for taking “courageous action” and “daring to speak the truth” about his state’s financial difficulties and ripped President Obama for criticizing Walker’s proposed reforms and failing to show leadership on the economy. 

Boehner reacted Thursday to President Obama’s interview with a Milwaukee television station in which the president criticized Walker for unleashing “an assault on unions.” 

“Republicans in Congress – and reform-minded GOP governors like Scott 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,” Boehner, R-Ohio, said in a statement Thursday. “I’m disappointed that instead of providing similar leadership from the White House, the president has chosen to attack leaders such as Gov. Walker, who are listening to the people and confronting problems that have been neglected for years at the expense of jobs and economic growth.”

In an interview taped Wednesday that aired Thursday, President Obama told WTMJ that Walker's effort to eliminate collective bargaining rights for state employees was an “assault on unions.”

"Some of what I've heard coming out of Wisconsin, where they're just making it harder for public employees to collectively bargain generally, seems like more of an assault on unions," Obama said. "I think everybody's got to make some adjustments, but I think it's also important to recognize that public employees make enormous contributions to our states and our citizens."

Boehner said the president’s comments fail to demonstrate leadership on the economy.

“This is not the way you begin an ‘adult conversation’ in America about solutions to the fiscal challenges that are destroying jobs in our country,” Boehner stated. “Rather than shouting down those in office who speak honestly about the challenges we face, the president and his advisors should lead.  Until they do, they are not focusing on jobs, and they are not listening to the American people who put them in power.”

Walker has proposed an emergency budget repair bill to help balance Wisconsin’s state budget, but thousands of teachers and state employees swarmed the capitol in Madison today to protest a planned state Senate vote on a measure to cut Wisconsin public worker pensions and curb collective bargaining rights. The vote stalled, however, after Senate Democrats apparently fled the state.

President Obama was interviewed Wednesday by local television stations in Cincinnati, Richmond and Milwaukee — the three media markets of Boehner, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor and House Budget Chairman Paul Ryan. 

Yesterday, White House Press Secretary Jay Carney denied that the three interviews were anything more than a coincidence.

“[President Obama] has meetings with Americans around the country, and this is just part of that process,” Carney said. “Those are important states, important parts of the country.  And he's very eager to talk to and reach out to Americans in all parts of the country to explain what he's doing on the budget, explain his vision for the future, the need to reduce spending reasonably, promote economic growth and invest in the areas that will help us compete in a very competitive environment in the 21st century.”

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