At long last! We are finally having a real conversation in this country about corporate greed. Who gets the credit? The brave souls of Occupy Wall Street, President Obama, and, last but not least, Bank of America.
The folks at Occupy Wall Street and their brothers and sisters have put the problem of corporate greed on the front political burner. And it's about time! National opinion polls have consistently shown that Americans want rich people to pay more taxes and that they want politicians to close corporate loopholes. But the political establishment was afraid to speak out and confront corporate America. Now Occupy Wall Street has started the conversation and it will not stop until Washington takes action.
The folks at Occupy Wall Street deserve a lot of credit for standing tall in the face of attacks from the establishment media. And I'm not just talking about the Fox News Channel. One day I checked out the Washington Post website and the only video available of the hundreds of people at Occupy DC was a foul-mouthed demonstrator. To make the point about the establishment media basis about the protesters, some demonstrators started wearing signs saying, "Am I too well dressed to be interviewed?"
Grass grows from the bottom but it goes much faster when someone at the top waters it. And that's what the president did when he gave his jobs speech in September just after Labor Day. The speech that the president gave that hit the GOP for its affection for big business and its disdain for working Americans may be the turning point in his presidency and in his re-election campaign. Keep it up, Mr. President!
And God bless the pointed little heads of the executives at the Bank of America who added corporate insult to consumer injury. American taxpayers bailed out Bank of America's butt to the tune of $45 billion and the mega bank repays the kindness of taxpayers by charging customers a $5 per month fee to use their own money and debit cards. Bank of America tacked on the surcharge even though it costs the bank far less to process debit charges than it does for the financial giant to record paper checks. The least that the bank could do would be to send a free T-shirt to each customer with these words; "Bank of America got $45 billion from the feds and all I got was this lousy T-shirt."
This hostility toward Wall Street augurs poorly for Mitt Romney, who is the closest thing in American politics we have to Gordon Gecko. With his slicked-backed hair, the former Bay State governor even looks like the movie villain portrayed by Michael Douglas in Oliver Stone's Wall Street films. Mitt Romney is Wall Street's avatar for campaign 2012.
Romney founded Bain Capital, which reaped big paydays by buying up American companies, firing the workers and selling the remaining pieces on the corporate scrap heap. Two years ago, the Boston Globe published a picture of Romney and his fellow Bain capitalists stuffing dollar bills in the pockets of their pinstripe suits. Two days ago, Romney told the editorial board of the Las Vegas Journal-Review that the best way to solve the housing crisis was to foreclose on as many people as quickly as possible. Nice guy. Is he quadrupling the size of his seaside mansion in California to put up all those newly homeless people? I don't think so.
Hopefully the populist pressure from both the top and the bottom will put Mitt Romney and his big business BFF's into a big-time electoral squeeze.
- See a collection of political cartoons on Occupy Wall Street.
- Read Debate Club: Is Occupy Wall Street the Next Tea Party Movement?
- Rick Newman: Why the Wall Street Protests Are Going Mainstream