Occupy Wall Street may be gone from Zuccotti Park, but it is not forgotten on Capitol Hill. You can draw a straight line from the Occupy Wall Street movement to President's Obama State of the Union address Tuesday night.
President Obama threw the gauntlet down before congressional Republicans Tuesday night which is just what he needed to do. The president drew a bright line between his concern with working Americans and the GOP's obsession with the health, wealth, and welfare of bankers and billionaires.
My only disappointment with the speech was the president's failure to criticize do-nothing congressional Republicans by name. The president's call for millionaires to pay an effective tax rate of at least 30 percent highlights GOP calls to reduce taxes for rich people. A hat tip goes out to former Gov. Mitt Romney from the White House for releasing his tax returns just before the speech and reporting that his effective tax rate was only 13.7 percent.
A new CBS News and New York Times national survey indicates that a clear majority of Americans feel that upper income people pay less than their fair share of taxes. Even more promising for the president are the attitudes of the political independents that will pick the next president in November. In the new national survey, the indie voters are even more likely than average Americans to feel that wealthy Americans aren't paying their fair share. Even moderate voters want to be class warriors.
None of this would be possible without the media splash made by Occupy Wall Street last fall. For the first time, there was an honest discussion of economic fairness in the mainstream media. The spotlight on income equality emboldened President Obama, other Democrats, and even some Republicans to talk about corporate greed for the first time.
The poster boy for corporate greed is Bain Capital-ist Mitt Romney, who is a classic example of being the wrong candidate at the wrong time in the wrong place. As the CEO of Bain Capital, Romney strip mined American companies, fired the workers, and packed their jobs off overseas to fill the pockets of his pinstriped suit with ill gotten gains. For a guy who says he believes in America, Mitt has an affinity for foreign banks. He has stashed millions of dollars in Swiss and Cayman banks. If Mitt's money was where his mouth was, he would put his cash in American banks which could invest the money in American jobs and businesses. If Mitt does become president, my guess is he will have a winter White House in the Caymans so he can warm himself with his money.
Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, the great friend of European style socialism, has attacked Money Bags Mitt with a fury that even Karl Marx couldn't have matched. Newt's attacks may not do him much good but they have exposed Daddy Warbucks's financial glass jaw to the president's campaign. Romney just can't talk about kitchen table economic problems without sounding like a master of the financial universe. Romney has accused his tormentors of envying his good fortune. He recently said that banks that foreclose on homes "aren't bad people." Memo to Mitt, banks are not people, they're banks. But you hardly blame Mitt for thinking banks are people, since the Supreme Court made the same mistake in its ruling in Citizens United.
Even though the San Francisco 49ers didn't make the Super Bowl, they had a very good year. Thanks to the president, Mitt Romney, and Occupy Wall Street, the 99ers will have an even better year.