Subscribe for 33¢ / day

President Barack Obama blasted the policies of Gov. Scott Walker and other Republicans on Thursday at the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse during a speech that outlined new overtime rules intended to boost middle-class earnings.

The president arrived by Air Force One at the La Crosse Regional Airport, where he shook hands and exchanged greetings with Walker as well as La Crosse Mayor Tim Kabat, U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin and U.S. Rep. Ron Kind, both D-Wis.

Obama greeted about two dozen invited guests on the tarmac during his first La Crosse visit as a sitting president before heading to the university, where he delivered the speech under a banner proclaiming “MIDDLE CLASS ECONOMICS” to an enthusiastic crowd of 2,399.

“It is good to be back in God’s Country,” Obama said as he took the stage.

Obama warmed up the crowd — and asked for a bratwurst — before attacking the economic strategy that brought him to Wisconsin.

Middle-class economics works when Americans come together, Obama told the pumped-up crowd at the Recreational Eagle Center.

“America has always done better when we’re all in it together and everybody gets a fair shot,” Obama said. “Everybody gets their fair shot, everybody is doing their fair share and nobody is playing by their own set of rules, and we all feel like we have a common stake in our success, from the CEO in the corner suite to the workers on the factory floor.”

That principle built the American middle class, Obama said.

“When you drive through La Crosse and throughout Wisconsin, when you see communities where kids are thriving and communities are thriving, it’s because everybody has a shot. Everybody is working hard. Everybody is pitching in. That’s when we’re at our best,” Obama said.

Obama said his economic policies support that ideal of everyone doing their fair share, including his Tuesday announcement that the U.S. Department of Labor will update the salary threshold to receive overtime pay.

“This is an issue of basic fairness. If you work longer and work harder, you should get paid for it,” Obama said.

The threshold to receive overtime will be increased to $970 per week, or $50,440 per year, in 2016 — up from the $455 per week, or $23,660 per year, it has been since 2004. He says the change will allow workers currently designated managers to receive overtime pay they deserve.

“They essentially label someone as a manager instead of a worker, even if they are making like $25,000, working a whole bunch of hours. It’s a way of getting around the minimum wage; it’s not fair,” Obama said.

Obama said the rules would give 80,000 people in Wisconsin and 5 million people in the U.S. overtime protections.

“In America, a hard day’s work deserves a fair day’s wage,” Obama said.

Obama advocated for a higher minimum wage, expanding sick leave and addressing the economic effects of child care.

“We’ve got to make sure that when we’ve got families where the mom and dad work, that we’re putting together ways for them to still make sure their kids are secure and safe,” Obama said.

Obama called for free community college “for responsible students,” and investing in the education system and infrastructure, as well.

Obama said his economic policies are working, noting that the U.S. created 223,000 jobs last month and the unemployment rate is at 5.3 percent, nearly half the 10 percent it was when he took office.

“And that’s good. But we’ve got more work to do because we’ve got to get folks’ wages and incomes to keep going up,” Obama said. “We’ve got to make sure folks feel like their hard work is getting them somewhere. And let’s face it, there are a lot of folks who still feel like the playing field is tilted in ways that make it hard for them to get ahead.”

Obama said the Affordable Care Act was a step in that direction by providing people with the financial security of insurance.

Obama took some shots at his opposing party while celebrating his signature law.

“I have these vague recollections of when Republicans were saying Obamacare would kill jobs and crush freedom and bring about death panels. And it turns out we’re still celebrating the Fourth of July. The only difference is another 16 million Americans can celebrate it with health care. That’s worth celebrating,” Obama said.

“The republic survived,” Obama joked.

Obama didn’t pass up the opportunity to take some shots at the Republican presidential hopefuls either.

“We’ve got some healthy competition in the Democratic Party, but I’ve lost count of how many Republicans are running for this job. They’ll have enough for an actual Hunger Games,” Obama said.

The crowd laughed and applauded the reference to Suzanne Collins’ popular series.

“That is an interesting bunch,” Obama said.

Obama was glad to see Republican presidential candidates raising concerns about the middle class, but said, “They talk the talk, but they don’t walk the walk.”

“The one thing that the bus full of people who are fighting to lead the Republican ticket all share is they keep on coming up with the same old trickle-down, ‘you’re on your own’ economics that helped bring about the crisis back in 2007-2008 in the first place,” Obama said.

Before going into detail about his disagreements with Republicans, he emphasized that he believes the candidates are good people with bad ideas.

“We’re one country, we’re all on one team, and so we’re all one American family. But we all go — we’re at Thanksgiving and Uncle Harry starts saying something and you say, ‘Uncle Harry, that makes no sense at all.’ You still love him. He’s still a member of your family,” Obama said.

“But you’ve got to correct him. You don’t want to put him in charge of stuff,” Obama added.

Obama assured any Uncle Harrys in the audience that it was just an example — bringing more laughter from the crowd — before citing specific Republican ideas he disagrees with.

“Here are a few of their bad ideas: Eliminating taxes that the wealthiest Americans pay on their investments while making you pay taxes on every dime of your paycheck. That’s a bad idea,” Obama said.

Obama also noted the Republican Party’s resistance to raising the minimum wage.

“Keeping the minimum wage worth less than it was when Ronald Reagan took office before most of you were born — that’s a bad idea,” Obama said. “Although, to be accurate, at least one of them actually thinks we just shouldn’t have a nationwide minimum wage at all — we should just get rid of it.”

Without naming names, Obama criticized Gov. Scott Walker, who is expected to announce his presidential candidacy July 13.

“Every single one of these candidates serving in Congress has supported cutting taxes for folks at the top while slashing investments in education. I know that sounds familiar,” Obama said.

The Wisconsin biennial budget proposed by Walker included a $150 per pupil cut in state aid. The cut was later restored by the Joint Finance Committee.

“We’ve seen what happens when top-down economics meets the real world. We’ve got proof right here in Wisconsin. You had a statewide fair-pay law that was repealed. Your right to organize and bargain collectively was attacked,” Obama said.

Obama cited a Jan. 4 La Crosse Tribune editorial, entitled “Minnesota is winning this border battle,” which compared Walker’s policies to those of Democratic Gov. Mark Dayton of Minnesota, who raised taxes on the top 2 percent of wage-earners and raised the state’s minimum wage.

“Now, according to the Republican theory, all those steps would have been bad for the economy. But Minnesota’s unemployment rate is lower than Wisconsin’s. Minnesota’s median income is around $9,000 higher,” Obama said.

“Now, it is true that, as the Tribune pointed out, Wisconsin does have the Packers. Even a Bears fan can respect the Packers,” Obama added.

Obama said there’s no reason Wisconsin can’t share Minnesota’s success.

“Wisconsin is this extraordinary state filled with extraordinary people. But if you end up having policies that cut education, help folks at the top, aren’t expanding opportunity, then it’s not going to work,” Obama said. “We need better policies because the bottom line is top-down economics doesn’t work. Middle-class economics works.”

The crowd reacted enthusiastically as Obama said his policies aren’t only a matter of economics.

“This is also a matter of values. Being an American is not about taking as much as you can from your neighbor before they take as much as they can from you,” Obama said. “We’re not just a bunch of individuals out here on our own. We’re a community; we’re a family.”

Obama acknowledged that the proposed economic changes would be slow and difficult to implement.

“But the last seven years — shoot, the last seven days — should remind us there’s nothing America cannot do,” Obama said, referring to two U.S. Supreme Court decisions last week that upheld federal subsidies for health insurance in all 50 states and ruled same-sex marriage bans unconstitutional.

Obama quoted Steve Cottrell of La Crosse, who he said wrote to him and said, “You can’t always do everything that everyone would like. But if you treat everybody like family, that’s good for us.”

If you treat everybody like family, that’s good for us,” Obama repeated.

“Not just me; not just you; not just Democrats; not just Republicans; not just old folks or young folks; not just black folks or white folks — it’s good for us,” Obama said.

“We’re not going to solve every problem in one fell swoop. But if we make things a little better for our fellow Americans, we’re going to leave something better for us and for our kids. And if we’re walking down that road together, we’re going to get there faster,” Obama said.

Obama ended by wishing everyone a happy Fourth of July and saying “God bless you. God bless America,” nearly drowned out by thunderous applause.

Bystanders lined parts of the 9-mile motorcade route as Obama made his way to the UW-L campus and back again.

Most held cellphones. Some waved American flags or wore red, white and blue outfits. One woman stood outside a salon with foil still in her hair.

A few held signs, including a pair indicating opposition to Obama and the symbol of the former Soviet Union. Another man in a VFW hat with a U.S. flag on his truck saluted the motorcade as it passed by.

Subscribe to Daily Headlines

* I understand and agree that registration on or use of this site constitutes agreement to its user agreement and privacy policy.

City government reporter

Jourdan Vian is a reporter and columnist covering local government and city issues for the La Crosse Tribune. You can contact her at 608-791-8218.

(60) comments


I am that 'woman' that said "I love you!" :) :D


Why a President would want to come to such a viciously polarized state, where the opposition have no shame and no decency, is beyond me.

But I'm glad he came, and his visit gave us an opportunity to showcase our area.

To most of the other posters, grow up, and quit trying to fuel everyone else's rage. There is so much more to life, than airing your hatred.... especially in writing.... and for what ? - a bunch of anonymous people to read and respond to?

Just be thankful for today, and realize that tomorrow, you'll have 1 less day to live on this beautiful planet.

Melowese Richardson

@Superman: You do realize that in this state you're the opposition, right?? But I do agree with your assertion that the opposition has no shame and decency here in Wisconsin.


So the President is a Republican? I mean, after all, he was the intended subject of my sentence. And by "he", I mean the President. ... And by "President" I mean Barack Hussein Obama.


"Obama said his economic policies are working, noting that the U.S. created 223,000 jobs last month and the unemployment rate is at 5.3 percent, nearly half the 10 percent it was when he took office."

And the mindless Obamadrones just ate it up their hero's lies. So how do you Trib libs square your messiah's remarks with your newest hero, "The Bern," who recently told the truth about our unemployment rate, which is only down because thousands have given up looking for work?

In fact, the labor force participation rate at just over 62% is the lowest it's been in 37 years.


Every politician thinks their policies are working. Not news, so Troll on...


So if he "thinks" that, he's as stupid as I've thought him to be for the past 8 years. Either that, or he's blatantly lying.


Or he's just a politician making political hay.... I mean no other politician has ever made claims, that may have been or were, absurd, right?


Yes, all politicians make claims. It's just that the Obamatons guzzle up everything their master says without a second thought.

Melowese Richardson

Over heard at the most recent Daily Disappointment (aka LAX Tribune): Apparently there is no other news in the world, nation, state, or region. So lets just keep the Obama thing up forever.......

Snow Cougar Mary Burke

Obamacare strikes again!

Health insurance companies around the country are seeking rate increases of 20% to 40% ~~ OR MORE!

At Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota, for example, the ratio of claims paid to premium revenues was more than 115 percent, and the company said it lost more than $135 million on its individual insurance business in 2014. "Based on first-quarter results," it said, "the year-end deficit for 2015 individual business is expected to be significantly higher."

President Walker will repeal this steaming pile of Obamacare!


So Snow is back in the game with new material supplied by the Kochmachine.


I wonder how much money they "lost", SweatT aka KochKitten.

It's likely a case of making not enough profit, therefore, let's raise rates out of Corporate Greed.

Or, it's a case of them reaping poor rewards on investment of premiums. Fire their management team.


"President Walker will repeal this steaming pile of Obamacare! "

Let it be known that Snow Cougar is all in for executive action.

Comment deleted.

Crashed and burned? Hardly. Having problems? Yes, but it's being worked out. Has it plunged Minnesota into debt? No, Minnesota has a very healthy budget surplus. Has Walker and his tax cuts, cuts to basic services, union and teacher bashing, assault on basic rights, tax breaks to the extremely wealthy resulted in a budget surplus? No, he has plunged Wisconsin into a budget deficit. Whenever Redwall is feeling low down, he bloviates on line, thinking it makes him look smart and superior. Supine is his favorite position, I guess, as he constantly mentions it. I suppose that is his preferred position, on his stomach, offering his nether regions to the Kochs after they have seduced him with their extremist conservative sweet talk. He and easy are easy that way.


Whenever you are feeling low, get up in front of adoring immature non-taxpaying audience and the blues disappear.


Redfence, at least 0bama announces his gigs to the general public for an audience to attend, unlike Scunkie "Closed Records" Wanker who only appears before an "adoring immature" 1%er brain-dead audience and his narcissism blossoms.


Clarification, responding to you again. Here is a site talking about Wisconsin's latest contribution to our already-too-long list of really crazy people. This fellow wants to "take a shot" at Obama, and boy, doesn't he look just right for the part?

But still the article can't find enough room to mention short little, poor little, Lovely Lively.

Except on the very bottom line, which mentions the La Crosse County Sheriff's Department.


They believed him when he said cheaper healthcare. They believed him when they said China wasn't a cyber threat, they believed him when they said Russia wasn't a geo-political threat. One things for certain, Obama supporters aren't very smart.


He DID say he would bring cheaper health care, and he did bring it, Jack. I don't recall him ever saying China ios not a cyber threat or that Russia isn't a geopolitical threat. You'll have to provide evidence of that, or this stupid Obama supporter will call you wrong on three counts. In baseball, that means you are out, my friend.


That really isn't so hard, homey. He did not deliver cheaper health care, he delivered government-subsidized health care. The insurance companies are still making out like bandits, and what used to be 'normal' insurance is going up for some and going away for others.

As far as Russia not being a geopolitical threat, here's that:

As far as China being a cyber threat, I'll split that with you 50/50, but I'll throw in how ISIS is just junior grade.

* * *

But, question for you. Do you really think this trip to La Crosse was worth its tremendous cost to the taxpayer for a 37 minute speech that could have come from the Rose Garden just as easy?

But I suppose none of that matters, 'cause he does have that printing press.


I guess it is true that critical thinking is on the decline in Wisconsin. The President's talk is broadcast all over the world from wherever he speaks. It also shines a light on a city in Wisconsin that even those on the east side of the state have not been to. I'm sure the Chamber of Commerce, etc., are thrilled.


Clarification, responding to you. It really didn't shine that much of a light on La Crosse. I watched shows on both Fox and MSNBC afterwards. They all mentioned the "speech in Wisconsin." Not a one that I saw said the name of the town.

On the other hand, when Bernie Sanders was in Madison, that name was indeed used, every time I saw it.


Easy, you take the easy way out. Every president moves around the country to sell his policies to the citizenry. Bush I and II, Clinton, Reagan, Carter, Ford, Nixon, Johnson and on and on. If they stayed hermetically sealed in the White House, they would be roundly and rightly criticized, so your disdain for Obama visiting here is not worth the ink it was printed on here, and we both no ink was involved.


You seem, easy, to suffer from what many of the GOP apologists on here suffer from, namely poor reading comprehension. Overall health care costs continue to rise, as they have been for decades, but since imposition of Obamacare, they rise at slower rate than they have in decades. If it had not been implemented, do you think the Republican plans for healthcare - namely no plan at all - would have slowed the rate of increase? The New York Times article you offer up answers your own question. Obama has never said Russia does not represent a threat to our national interest, he said it is not the gravest threat to our national interest. And, as the article goes on to say, most Americans see it that way. You only see the opposite because it makes for a good argument without substantiation. But that is expected from you. Nothing substantial, just the easy way out, right easy?


You know, homey, you might try to make a statement sometime without including an insult. Or is that not possible? Reasonable people can disagree, and Obama has been spending money like water, travelling around to give his speeches here and there, so he can have an audience behind him to look like he has so much support.

That includes "blacking out" large portions of theaters so they don't look so empty. Did you know they have done that? Did you see the one from a factory, where he had about 8 people behind him? That's all that would sit there. Lot of empty seats.

It's all showmanship! I remember his campaign manager early on, after first election, speaking at a seminar, and proudly proclaiming how their campaign was careful to always "manage the message."

And Manage the Message is a different thing than Tell the Truth.

Do you even remember that person's name?

And I am not anything GOP, nor have you ever heard me defend them. I am an Independent, which means unbeholden.


As opposed to those geniuses that waved on as we went to war over WMDs?


Yes, both parties are led by idiots. Is this an epiphany to you?


Then why complain Redwall, unless you have plans to do something about it.
Otherwise you're just an armchair quarterback shacking their fist at the t.v.

Comment deleted.

"Central planning always fails." Our highway system was centrally planned, our military is centrally planned, food inspection is centrally planned, The Center For Disease Control is centrally planned..shall I go on?

Comment deleted.

Cougar, how many accounts do you have here?

Comment deleted.

Hi cougar

Union Man

Obama's mid second term, still got all my guns sweet tea. The groundhog republicon's keep digging deeper, idiots never could see beyond their shadow

Condor Kid

The Big O knows what he's talking about and we can believe and trust in him!

Melowese Richardson

Yep, we sure can trust him: Senator Obama: "I'll have the most open and transparent administration ever."

How's that working out Condor??


Melo you missed posting on a lot of articles. even today about GOP trying to hide all they do. We missed you and your other names posting yesterday.

Melowese Richardson

I wasn't the one talking about being able to believe and trust the great Messiah... Sorry YOU missed the point fissssshy...

Melowese Richardson

Also fisssshy, only 1 name. Just me the little old lovable fuzzball Melowese.


The Great Messiah...

Ouch Fishy, are you going to just take that? Bwaaahahhahh. I mean what do you say to such a "awesome" insult, especially one repeated over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over again..... and over and over and over again! What a devastating blow to one's ego, to hear the same dogmatic slam from the frightened religous right. For only those who live in fear of a fantasy would find it the least big insulting...

Melowese, I bet you typed that, and did a little MIC drop afterwards! BWWWWAAAAHHHHAAHAHAH


How is Wankers working ?? he is hiding all.

Little Willie

Like If you like your insurance you can keep it WRONG If you like your DR. you can keep your Dr WRONG You will save $2400 a year WRONG AGAIN I am paying much more now

Condor Kid

My insurance and most people's insurance is getting cheaper. Maybe you have problems?


BS........try again Condor.

Melowese Richardson

I call B.S. on Condor also.


Maybe Condor is running for office?


Why is the Grand Oppression Party (GOP) so Anti-American Worker? Why do Clownservatives hate American workers so much?

Comment deleted.

Sweet P, for the record, I am not that person. I also have one account. I also am going to call the Tribune and urge them to ban you for posting someone's private information. I would urge that person, if she is reading these posts to ALSO CALL THE POLICE on you.

Melowese Richardson

C'mon jharrasem aka Maerze Dotes from Florence Wisconsin, fess up and own up to your real name.


C'mon smello'whiteguy aka Clownservative from cave dwelling, USA, fess up and own up to your real name: Doe Z. Dotes

And while you are at it, how about a Clownservative like you take a stab at answering the question why you Clownservastives hate open government in WI by supporting info suppressors like Wanker, Vos, Comrade Vukmir, etc.

Snow Cougar Mary Burke

Hi Top Commenter, Maerzie, jharrimjr etc. etc. etc.

You violate the Tribunes rules with all these multiple accounts. Your saved and documented posting histories do not lie.


KochKitten, I see you're back to using your ol' familiar Scunkie original name!
Can't say I've missed you, nor your propaganda.

So, you evasive ol' feline, How come WI Thuglicans don't want open government and try to sneak in anti-open records laws?

Comment deleted.

Sweet T, it is obvious that you are in fact another iteration of Snow. Did your snow get so yellowed by direct, criticisms of your previous posts that you decided to change names? If so, your T will soon taste sour.

Comment deleted.

Sweat T,aka SnowCougar aka KOCHCougar, why are you here posting under all these screen names?

Comment deleted.

Sweat T, why do you Clownservatives hate Open Government so much?

Welcome to the discussion.

Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.

Thanks for reading. Subscribe or log in to continue.