Speaking on Morning Joe Thursday morning, Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) compared the current situation in Wisconsin, where Gov. Scott Walker (R) has inspired days of protests by proposing a budget that would remove key bargaining powers for public employee unions, to the recent unrest in Egypt that toppled the 30-year authoritarian rule of Hosni Mubarak, saying it's "like Cairo has moved to Madison these days."
Host Mika Brzezinski asked Ryan what he made of the protests and Walker's "stand."
"He is basically saying, state workers, which have extremely generous benefit packages relative to their private sector counterparts, they contribute next to nothing to their pensions, very, very little in their health care packages," Ryan responded "He's asking that they contribute about 12% for their health care premiums, which is about half of the private sector average, and about 5.6% to their pensions. It's not asking a lot, it's still about half of what private sector pensions do and health care packages do. So he's basically saying, I want you public workers to pay half of what our private sector counterparts are, and he's getting, you know, riots. It's like Cairo has moved to Madison these days. It's just, all of this demonstration. It's fine, people should be able to express their way, but we've got to get this deficit and debt under control in Madison, if we want to have a good business climate and job creation in Wisconsin."
Somehow Ryan forgot to mention that the Governor wants to take away the union members' collective bargaining rights. And here's more from Salon -- Paul Ryan: "It's like Cairo has come to Wisconsin":
Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis., seems to be doing his best to convince the general public that he -- hmm, how to put this politely? -- just isn't very smart. On Wednesday, he attacked President Obama for ignoring the deficit-reducing recommendations made by the president's fiscal commission. But Paul Ryan was on the commission, as Jonathan Chait points out, and he voted explicitly against endorsing the commission's proposals. That makes no sense, to put it mildly.
On Thursday morning Ryan topped that headscratcher with a real doozy: He compared the protests currently raging in Wisconsin over Gov. Scott Walker's plans to crush public sector unions to the upheaval that brought down President Mubarak in Egypt. [...]
But when a Republican legislator voluntarily places his own party in the position of Mubarak, you have to wonder what's in the tea these people are drinking. Yes, yes, I know conservatives are worried that democracy in Egypt could lead to the Muslim Brotherhood taking power. But to the vast majority of people on this planet who paid attention to what happened in Egypt, the protesters were the good guys and Mubarak was the bad guy. The sight of people gathering peacefully in Tahrir Square was incredibly inspiring.
Ryan sees riots and Cairo-style destabilization in the masses who have risen up in Wisconsin. But that's not what Democrats and union members and Americans who don't share the Tea Party ethos are seeing. They're seeing the dramatic, exciting beginning of a pushback against Republican over-reach. If Paul Ryan thinks it looks like Cairo, well then, maybe he's right.