Patrick attacks GOP on labor

May 2, 2011

By Glen Johnson, Globe Staff

MILWAUKEE — Governor Deval Patrick waded into the national debate over labor rights last night, telling fellow Democrats in the union battleground state of Wisconsin that Republicans “have abandoned any sense of responsibility for our common future in order to win power at all costs.’’

Offering tidbits of the personal story outlined in the memoir he is now selling, as well as a preview of the pro-Obama speech he will deliver over the next year as a surrogate campaign for the president, Patrick was scalding as he mirrored President Obama in casting the 2012 election as one less about policy than values.

“Republicans say that if you just shrink government, cut spending, crush unions, and wait, all will be well,’’ Patrick told a sold-out audience of 400 at the Democratic Party of Wisconsin’s annual Founders Day Dinner. “Of course, they don’t actually believe a whole lot of this.’’

Building momentum, he added: “The same folks who say smaller government and less spending is the right way to go are the ones responsible in the Bush administration for the biggest run-up in the size of the federal government in history, and spending deficits out as far as the eye can see.

“The same folks who are attacking the principle of public sector collective bargaining today will make an exception if your union endorses them,’’ he said.

The latter comment referred to the political fight that paralyzed this state in February, when newly elected Republican Governor Scott Walker pushed a bill proposing to eliminate union collective bargaining rights.

That prompted union opponents and Tea Party and other backers of the governor to clash at the state Capitol in Madison, triggering a national debate over how to cope with generous labor contracts amid the national recession and massive government spending cuts across the country.

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