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Special Report

State and National Response to Wisconsin Protests

This is a rush transcript from "Special Report," February 22, 2011. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GOV. JOHN KASICH, R-OHIO: Some of the people who are protesting, they have an idea we're take their jobs or taking their pensions. I meant that's not what this is about. This is about restoring a balance between management and labor.

GOV. SCOTT WALKER, R-WIS.: Even the teachers union wised up that they're no longer on their side and they forced their employees that were protesting here to come back to work.

VALERIE JARRETT, SENIOR ADVISER TO PRESIDENT OBAMA: Let's not turn what's really a Wisconsin issue into a Washington issue. The president was very clear about what he thinks should happen at state and local and at the federal government. We all have to work together and we all have to make sacrifices and do more with less.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BRET BAIER, ANCHOR: The standoff continues and it's getting a lot of focus from around the country. Now a big protest in Ohio as well over this issue about labor protesting the restriction of collective bargaining rights.

We're back with the panel. Jonah?

JONAH GOLDBERG, AT LARGE EDITOR, NATIONAL REVIEW ONLINE: Well ya know, Valerie Jarrett says it's not a Washington issue, it's a Wisconsin issue. Well it's obviously a national issue at this point. It's a national debate. We're seeing this burst out in Ohio, we're seeing it play out in Indiana. Lord knows it's coming in New York State and New Jersey there are aspects to it. The idea this is somehow not a national issue that Obama has a position on is frankly absurd.

BAIER: Well he's already weighed in.

GOLDBERG: He weighed in and now they've pulled back, which tells you something about the popularity and role of the unions in America today. Ya know, there are more people -- more people watch 'The Mentalist' on Thursday nights on CBS than belong to labor union today. There are a very small number of unionists and they have a stranglehold on one political party and on lots of aspects of American government.

BAIER: You couldn't use a FOX number? You had to go with CBS?

(LAUGHTER)

GOLDBERG: I couldn't find any FOX numbers that low.

BAIER: Nicely done. OK, Juan?

JUAN WILLIAMS, FOX NEWS CONTRIBUTOR: Ya know, I think Valerie Jarrett is backstepping here because it was clear to me that the president and the White House view this as an assault on labor unions. And to this point, even Governor Walker has said, "listen, we understand there are concessions on the tablen." But this is really about saying to the unions that you should not be able to go into the union members' pockets, take their dues, and then apply it for the political purposes, usually to elect Democrats who then, of course, pad union pension plans and benefits.

So it is about politics. And I don't know what she is up to, unless as Jonah says maybe she is running scared or looking at some numbers -- some poll numbers. But my sense is that she may be retreating early. I'm not sure that she should be giving up. I mean the clear feeling here is, that I think, and looking at the poll numbers, Americans want the governor to at least talk to union members even if he has a strong vision that they have been abusive of rights in the past.

BAIER: Charles?

CHARLES KRAUTHAMMER, SYNDICATED COLUMNIST: But the outcome is really in the balance now of Wisconsin. And I think the governor's gonna make a big mistake if he goes to layoffs next week. He would have gratuitously created victims, hostages, scapegoats -- (INAUDIBLE)

BAIER: Now wait a second, you are the one who said this is Reagan moment for the air traffic control.

KRAUTHAMMER: But tactics have to be different here. What he can and ought to do is take out of the bill the parts that don't have to do with fiscal matters. The real heart of the issue is take away bargaining rights. That he can have in the senate, he doesn't need a quorum of 20, he doesn't need Democrats. He can do that.

And then if he passes it, he's won, because all that is left is the give-backs which the unions have already agreed they're gonna do on the money. And there'll be no reason for a Wisconsin Democrat to stay in Chicago and hide. So he's got at hand a winning tactic and he is not exercising it. I don't know why, because in the absence of that, stalemate continues. And then if he goes to selective layoffs he's going to lose the public relations battle, which he's winning now. And it's all going to be decided on public opinion.

BAIER: Down the road, how much longer does this last in Wisconsin? Quickly.

GOLDBERG: Days, not weeks.

WILLIAMS: Yeah, I'd say another week or so. And it's spreading. I mean this is a big issue.

KRAUTHAMMER: One side has to give and I think it will be decided next week.

BAIER: That is it for the panel. But stay tuned for an interesting question-and-answer session from Wisconsin.

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