The “Occupy Wall Street” protests are garnering more institutional support, this time in the halls of Congress. Liberal congressmen have been coming out this week to voice their support for the demonstrations, whose actual demands remain unclear.
“All of us should join that movement,” California Democratic Rep. Barbara Lee said before the liberal Take Back the American Dream conference, according to The Hill.
Congressional Progressive Caucus co-chairs Arizona Democratic Rep. Raúl Grijalva and Minnesota Democratic Rep. Keith Ellison echoed Lee, asserting that they “stand with the American people as they demand corporate accountability.”
“We have been inspired by the growing grassroots movements on Wall Street and across the country,” they said in a joint-statement. “We share the anger and frustration of so many Americans who have seen the enormous toll that an unchecked Wall Street has taken on the overwhelming majority of Americans while benefiting the super wealthy. We join the calls for corporate accountability and expanded middle-class opportunity. ”
New York Democratic Rep. Louise Slaughter cheered the protests, reiterating the president’s “fair share” mantra.
“The gap between the haves and have nots continues to widen in the wake of the 2008 recession, precipitated by the banking industry,” Slaughter said. “Yet we are told we cannot afford to raise taxes on millionaires and billionaires to pay for better roads and help close this deficit? That’s not right. It’s time for all Americans to pay their fair share. And I’m so proud to see the ‘Occupy Wall Street’ movement standing up to this rampant corporate greed and peacefully participating in our democracy.”
Vermont independent and self-described democratic socialist Bernie Sanders was similarly supportive, according to The Hill’s report. When speaking before the Take Back the American Dream conference, Sanders encouraged further action.
“I applaud those protesters who are out there, who are focusing attention on Wall Street, but what we’ve got to do is put meat on that bone. We’ve got to make demands on Wall Street [and] break those institutions up.”
Ohio Democratic Rep. Dennis Kucinich even produced a web video in support of the Wall Street protest movement.
“Your presence is making a difference,” Kucinich said in his video. “You’re exercising the right every American holds most dear: The right of freedom of expression. And with that expression, you’re finally getting the attention of the nation. Wall Street banks got billion dollar bailouts, yet the American people get austerity.”
Oregon Democratic Rep. Peter DeFazio lashed out against Republicans on the House floor, speakingin support of the movement.“Now, this fall something is happening. Something in this land is happening. I call it the ‘American Awakening,’ ‘The Occupation of Wall Street,’ which is now spreading to other cities throughout this country,” DeFazio said, adding, “I think the young people and the others who are joining them on Wall Street get it. They may not be totally focused, but they know that this is not a country that gives them a fair shot at the American dream anymore — it is a stacked deck.”
Wisconsin Democratis Rep. Russ Feingold offered his endorsement to the protest movement yesterday, according to the Washington Post.“I’m really encouraged by what I’m seeing,” he said. “People around the country are finally organizing to stand up to the huge influence of corporations on government and our lives. This kind of citizen reaction to corporate power and corporate greed is long overdue.”
Rep. John Larson, chairman of the House Democratic Caucus, told The Daily Caller that the protesters are standing for a good cause, even if their message is jumbled.
“I don’t know if they have the right message, but they have the right morals,” said Larson.“They’re standing up and saying the things they feel deep inside that are working unjustly and unfairly against them … everybody ought to take heed, that it’s not only an ‘Arab Spring,’ but there is an ‘American Fall’ as well.”
Republicans have not been as receptive to the movement. GOP presidential candidates and businessmen Mitt Romney and Herman Cain have denounced the protests as “class warfare.”
“Don’t blame Wall Street, don’t blame the big banks — if you don’t have a job and you’re not rich, blame yourself!” Cain said. “It is not a person’s fault because they succeeded, it is a person’s fault if they failed. And so this is why I don’t understand these demonstrations and what is it that they’re looking for.”