While speaking at a UW-Madison education conference, former Congressman Dave Obey reflected on a storied career in politics and took shots at the policies of Governor Scott Walker.
Obey, an architect of the federal stimulus package, said he unsuccessfully pushed for a second round of stimulus to provide future relief for states. Since the effort did not pass it opened the door for deficits and an excuse for Walker’s “union busting.”
While on campus, the former Democratic House member called Walker’s budget repair bill an attack on both worker rights and “the basic moral underpinning of what is supposed to be enlightened capitalism.”
Obey said for the past three decades the country has been dealing with a race to the bottom regarding wages.
“Every factor in the economy exerts a downward pressure on wages, except one. The only exception is the ability of workers to gather collectively and bargain for their own interests.”
The Governor denies his restictions on collective bargaining rights for public workers is an attack on unions and has said the repair bill is a fiscal move to fill a massive state budget deficit.
In a lecture which took place prior to the bill’s passage this week, Obey said unless Walker truly compromises with Democrats he will surely face a recall election when eligible next year. The former lawmaker added he “detests the recall process.”
Obey also reflected on his more than four decades in Congress including work on international education and his support for controversial proposals. The former House Appropriations Chairman said he is “damn proud” of voting for the Wall Street bail out presented by President George W. Bush because it was necessary to stabilize the financial sector of the economy. He called the TARP the single most unpopular vote he’s ever cast with stimulus being the second most unpopular.
Obey spoke Wednesday at the conference, “The Obama Education Agenda: Principles, Policies and Prospects.”