President Obama took direct aim at Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker Monday night after the state became the 25th in the nation to enact right-to-work laws that weaken the power of labor unions.
In a statement, Mr. Obama said the Wisconsin bill is the latest in a “sustained, coordinated assault on unions” led by the wealthy and their friends in government, predicting it will hamper economic growth and harm the middle class moving forward.
But he saved his harshest words for Mr. Walker, a potential 2016 presidential candidate and rising star in the Republican party.
“Wisconsin is a state built by labor, with a proud pro-worker past. So even as its governor claims victory over working Americans, I’d encourage him to try and score a victory for working Americans by taking meaningful action to raise their wages and offer them the security of paid leave,” Mr. Obama said. “That’s how you give hardworking middle-class families a fair shot in the new economy — not by stripping their rights in the workplace, but by offering them all the tools they need to get ahead.”
Mr. Walker shot back and said the president could learn lessons from states such as Wisconsin.
“On the heels of vetoing Keystone Pipeline legislation, which would have paved the way to create thousands of quality, middle-class jobs, the president should be looking to states, like Wisconsin, as an example for how to grow our economy,” he said in a statement. “Our reforms are moving Wisconsin forward and helping create family-supporting jobs for people in our state.”
The right-to-work move only deepens the rift between Mr. Walker and Mr. Obama.
Mr. Walker made waves last month when he said he didn’t know if Mr. Obama loves America, or if the president is a Christian.
Mr. Walker’s office later clarified that the governor does, in fact, believe the president is a Christian. And during a March 1 appearance on “Fox News Sunday,” Mr. Walker also walked back his skepticism over whether the president loves his country.
The president and “anybody else who is willing to put their name on the ballot certainly has to have the love for country to do that,” he told Fox News.
• Ben Wolfgang can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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