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Local House members support ‘Occupy Wall St.’

As the “Occupy Wall Street” movement spreads to the Bay Area, several local House members are voicing their support.

Demonstrations are under way in Oakland, San Ramon, San Jose and San Francisco, and are planned for Wednesday in Walnut Creek and Palo Alto. Rep. John Garamendi, D-Walnut Grove, said Tuesday that’s “as it should be.”

“This is a very important albeit somewhat disorganized expression of frustration and indeed anger at Wall Street, and a demand for jobs. Those two things seem to me to be the principal motivators behind this,” he said, adding the anger at the banking and investment industry is well-justified. “Their greed and recklessness brought this nation to its knees in 2008 and now their continuing greed will soon see the bonuses available to those who work on Wall Street.”

And Garamendi said “the frustration will grow” as House Republicans refuse to allow a vote on the president’s American Jobs Act, remaining more concerned with manufacturing “quarterly crises” to weaken the president politically. But Garamendi said House Democrats have no plans to co-opt the movement’s energy for their own political purposes.

“I would not even attempt to organize them. The American public is organizing itself,” he said. “The American public has had it … and understands there’s an attack on working Americans, there’s an attack on the middle class.”

Rep. Barbara Lee, D-Oakland, said in an email Tuesday that she strongly supports “the courageous people who have started Occupy Wall Street and I think they deserve more than our attention.

“In fact, we should all support putting a stop to endless wars, unrestricted corporate greed, and massive inequity facing all but the wealthiest few,” Lee said. “What is happening in our country is that the Tea Party controlled Republicans are playing politics with our economy and our democracy by trying to dismantle government, protect corporate donors and promote the super rich – and it is unconscionable. I am inspired by and will work with those on the front lines of this growing movement.”

Rep. Pete Stark, D-Fremont, said in an e-mail that “(e)verybody’s got a right to express their opinion and I applaud these folks for organizing to express theirs.”

“I understand their frustrations,” Stark said. “People want to work, they want to make a fair wage, and they don’t want to see the out-of-control transfer of wealth that has gone from the middle class to the wealthiest of Americans. It’s not right. Hopefully this movement will focus Congress on what should be our top priority — creating jobs and opportunity for all Americans.”

More after the jump…

Rep. Anna Eshoo, D-Palo Alto, said via e-mail Tuesday that “(p)eaceful protests have always been part of our history – from the suffragettes to the opposition of the Vietnam war. People are justifiably worried and angry about unemployment, foreclosures on their homes, and their government not addressing the things that have everything to do with their families, their dignity and their future.”

Rep. Mike Honda, D-San Jose, said via e-mail Tuesday that he supports this movement against “America’s unprecedented income inequality.”

“We hardly have a middle class: Average household income for 90 percent of America is $31,244. The bulk of America’s growth over the past 30 years has gone to the top one-hundredth of 1 percent, making an average of $27 million per household,” Honda said. “This inequality is corrosive. Among the world’s richest countries, America has the highest inequality and the worst rates of life expectancy, social mobility, violence, infant mortality, obesity, literacy, homicides, incarceration, teenage pregnancy, mental illness and drug and alcohol addiction. This is unacceptable and unsustainable.”

Honda said it’s possible to “defend the American dream, put America back to work, ensure fairness for working-class families and reduce the debt and deficit” through the “People’s Budget” he developed with his Congressional Progressive Caucus colleagues.

“America has stacked the deck against working people. Our budget reverses this trend while cutting $1 trillion in waste,” he said. “We make the tax code fair, asking the wealthiest individuals, corporations hiding money overseas, oil companies raking in record profits and Wall Street banks that gambled away our money to pay their fair share. We fix roads, bridges and waterways, we build a world-class high-speed rail system and broadband, we end our addiction to oil and the endless wars that come with it, we meet our obligations to seniors and we educate our children for the global workforce. I hope my colleagues on the Super Committee give consideration to our People’s Budget, which does all of the above, while eliminating the deficit and reducing debt burden. This is the America that lies within grasp, if we stop accepting the spin and start saving this country from itself.”

Rep. George Miller, D-Martinez, posted this to his Facebook page last week, in response to a Concord resident’s query about the movement:

I can see why they’re frustrated and why they’ve chosen Wall Street to express themselves. They’re feeling the effects of the growing disparity between the richest 1 percent of Americans and everyone else. They’re seeing big bonuses at Wall Street banks shoot back up while the rest of America is still reeling from the effects of the worst recession since the Great Depression, a recession that those very same banks helped create. It has been said that the protestors have many different demands, and that it can be confusing sometimes to know what those demands are. One thing that I think is clear to all of us, however, is that the protestors are expressing their moral outrage at the gross disparity between the richest few Americans and everyone else and how that great disparity is hurting our economy and our country. That disparity must be addressed.

I didn’t hear back today from Reps. Jerry McNerney, D-Pleasanton; Lynn Woolsey, D-Petaluma; Zoe Lofgren, D-San Jose; and Jackie Speier, D-Hillsborough, or from U.S. Sens. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., and Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif.

Josh Richman

Josh Richman covers state and national politics for the Bay Area News Group. A New York City native, he earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Missouri and reported for the Express-Times of Easton, Pa. for five years before coming to the Oakland Tribune and ANG Newspapers in 1997. He is a frequent guest on KQED Channel 9’s “This Week in Northern California;” a proud father; an Eagle Scout; a somewhat skilled player of low-stakes poker; a rather good cook; a firm believer in the use of semicolons; and an unabashed political junkie who will never, EVER seek elected office.