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The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald


Gov.-Elect Walker meets with Obama

Gov.-Elect Scott Walker, pictured here at his primary victory party, met with President Barack Obama at the White House Thursday.[/media-credit]

President Barack Obama met with Gov.-elect Scott Walker and a roomful of other newly-elected governors in Washington, D.C. to discuss security issues Thursday, according to the Walker transition office.

In his welcoming statement to the soon to be governors, Obama stressed the midterm elections are now over and it is time for both parties to work together, according to a White House transcript.

Republicans had a net gain of six governorships nationwide, and will hold 29 total governorships upon inauguration next month.


“I am a very proud Democrat, as some of you in the room are, although not as many as I expected,” Obama said.

Before the closed-door session, Obama touched on the key issues facing the new governors, such as unemployment, Bush-era tax cuts, education, clean energy and looming spending cuts. He also touted the five consecutive quarters of growth the U.S. economy has seen between 2009 and 2010.

In a letter to the president this week, Walker said he specifically wanted to discuss high-speed rail and health care during the meeting.

Walker stated his case in the letter to use $810 million in federal high-speed rail funding on bridges and roads in the federal interstate highway system in the state.

Walker also stressed his desire to prevent what he sees as government-mandated health care in Wisconsin.

Walker said he is in favor of a more “free-market, consumer driven system approach.”

Vice President Joe Biden also greeted Walker and the other newly-elected governors, stressing cooperation between the two parties, according to White House transcripts.

Biden said communication is key in dealing with federal stimulus funds.

“This is a partnership, whether we like it or not,” Biden said. “I happen to like it.”

Walker, who ran on a pledge to stop the Madison to Milwaukee high-speed rail line, previously wrote a letter to Transportation Secretary Ray Lahood asking to use the funds for other infrastructure projects.

The Obama Administration has said the money will be spent on rail transportation in another state if Walker does not use the funds for rail in Wisconsin.

Despite Walker’s desire to discuss alternative rail fund use with Obama, Jay Heck, executive director of Common Cause in Wisconsin, said the chances of the recovery funds being spent on anything but rail are near zero.

“It’s just not going to happen,” Heck said. “Other states will gladly take the money.”

New Republican majority control could mean big changes for the country at large, University of Wisconsin political science professor Charles Franklin said.

“This is federal law now,” Franklin said. “It is unclear to what extent Republican governors could undo health care.”

However, Heck said nothing substantive is likely to result from the meeting.

Heck added while Republicans may feel pretty confident right now, the hard part still lies ahead – in actual governance. 

The president also got some laughs at the close of his public statement in the room.

“With that, we’re going to clear the press out of the room so that all these folks can…tell me what they really think about me,” Obama said.

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