Key statements from the president’s interview are included below.
“I would say as a general proposition that everybody has got to make some adjustments to new fiscal realities. And I think if we want to avoid layoffs, which I want to avoid -- I don’t want to see layoffs of hard-working federal workers. We had to impose, for example, a freeze on pay increases for federal workers for the next two years as part of my overall budget freeze. I think those kinds of adjustments are the right thing to do.
On the other hand, some of what I’ve heard coming out of Wisconsin, where you’re just making it harder for public employees to collectively bargain generally seems like more of an assault on unions. And I think it’s very important for us to understand that public employees, they’re our neighbors, they’re our friends. These are folks who are teachers and they’re firefighters and they’re social workers and they’re police officers. They make a lot of sacrifices and make a big contribution. And I think it’s important not to vilify them or to suggest that somehow all these budget problems are due to public employees.”