MSNBC's Mitchell Gushes Over Dem. Mayor's Budget Reform After Blasting Gov. Walker's Plan

Within the same sentence, MSNBC's Andrea Mitchell spurned the budget repair law crafted by Republican Governor Scott Walker of Wisconsin as "drastic" and celebrated a similar plan championed by Democratic Mayor Antonia Villaraigosa of Los Angeles as "a good deal."

On the March 25 edition of "Andrea Mitchell Reports," the daytime anchor praised the Democratic budget bill in Los Angeles as a "landmark deal" that "greatly increases workers's health care and pension contributions" after mischaracterizing the Republican plan as an attempt to "fight union workers by drastically cutting their pension and health plans."

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Despite Mitchell's framing, the respective budget plans share many similarities, including forcing public employees to contribute a higher percentage of their salaries to their pensions (11 percent in Los Angeles, 12.6 percent in Wisconsin.)

In addition to asking public employees to contribute their fair share to their own retirement packages, Villaraigosa and Walker claim their plans rein in deficits and save jobs. Villaraigosa asserts his plan would save the city more than $400 million over three years, end furloughs for certain public workers, and prevent more than 600 proposed layoffs. Similarly, Walker contends his plan would save local governments almost $1.5 billion and help close the state's $3.6 billion deficit.

While Walker's plan curtails most collective bargaining privileges for public sector workers, Villaraigosa's plan does not.

A transcript of the segment can be found below:

Mitchell Reports
March 25, 2011

1:30 p.m. EST

ANDREA MITCHELL: As states like Wisconsin and Indiana fight union workers by drastically cutting their pension and health plans, the City of Los Angeles has reached a landmark deal with the city's largest union. The deal greatly increases workers's health care and pension contributions, saving the city nearly $400 million in three years. In return, though, the city will end furloughs for city workers covered by the contact and avoid 600 layoffs. Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa joins us now and negotiated this deal. This is a good deal for the city, is it not? And you've managed to protect workers from more layoffs. How did you persuade them to the give backs?

ANTONIO VILLARAIGOSA, mayor of Los Angeles: Well thank you, Andrea. It's a win-win. It's a win-win for the employees because they get to avoid furloughs, as you said. We were proposing some 37 days worth of furloughs. It's a win-win for the taxpayers because the services provided by those employees during that time are restored. And it puts us in a position where we can craft similar deals with the rest of our employees. These unions represent about 60 percent of out civilian labor force. The question how did we get there – we got there by really working together over a long period of time and trying to sell the idea that we all have a responsibility to shoulder the burden of a crisis that is of a magnitude that we haven't seen since the depression. We've cut about a billion dollars over the last couple of years, about 4,000 employees and positions have left the city workforce. So I think all of that coming together and I just a lot of hard negotiations got us to this point.

--Alex Fitzsimmons is a News Analysis intern at the Media Research Center. Click here to follow him on Twitter.

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