Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R-WI), on Capitol Hill for a hearing held by the House Oversight Committee on state budgets, had yet to even speak before Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-MD) ripped into the Republican leader’s anti-union record.
“I strongly oppose efforts to falsely blame middle-class American workers for these current economic problems,” Cummings, the ranking Democrat on the committee, said in his opening statement. “This recession was not caused by them. Working America - fire fighters, teachers and nurses - are not responsible for the reckless actions of Wall Street, which led to this crisis in the first place.”
Cummings said he also “strongly object[s] to efforts by politicians who try to use the current economic downturn to strip American workers of their rights - the right to negotiate working conditions that are safe, the right to negotiate due process protections against being fired arbitrarily, and the right to negotiate fair pay for an honest day’s work.”
Gov. Pete Shumlin of Vermont, a Democrat, also piled on, using his testimony to contrast his approach to deficits with unnamed other states.
“What is puzzling to me about the current debate about state budgets is that the focus has been not on bringing people together to solve common problems, like we have done in Vermont, but on division and blame,” he said.”I do not believe that those to blame for our current financial troubles are our law enforcement officers, firefighters, and other state employees whose services we take for granted.”
Walker and Shumlin will face questions from lawmakers on his state’s struggles with budget shortfalls.
Benjy Sarlin is a reporter for Talking Points Memo and co-writes the campaign blog, TPM2012. He previously reported for The Daily Beast/Newsweek as their Washington Correspondent and covered local politics for the New York Sun.