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.

  • RR, Senile Columnist

    What a load of doo-doo! These dewy-eyed libbers are thrilled “Yoof” are protesting against the Super Rich (excluding cool dudes like Geo. Soros, Peter Lewis, Hollywoodies) rather than focussing on the White House, Dems in general and themselves in particular. Every modern country is ruled by some elite, establishment, etc. America’s ruling circles are more inclusive than most. At the other extreme, the ruling elite in much-mourned Mao’s China could have fit in a decent-sized lavatory.

  • Ming Liu Bengtsson

    ll 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

    Ming Liu Bengtsson

  • John W

    A local radio caller today suggested that the Oakland and SF “Occupy” people needed to move the show to where the rich live, “like Danville.” When the talk show host questioned whether it would be appropriate to protest outside people’s homes, the caller clarified that he was thinking of businesses in Danville, not homes. So, I was trying to come up with a list of prime business candidates in Danville for Occupy to picket. Charlies Barbershop, perhaps? Elliott’s Bar? The Psychic?

  • David F

    If the occupy Wall Street movement were to have one central ambition that would reverse the trend of economic disparity and the lack of representation by our elected officials that ambition would be end the numerous mechanisms by which corporations and the wealthy purchase the best laws and regulations that money can buy. Until campaign finance laws are changed, and political money is no longer protected as “free speech” the gap between rich and poor will continue to widen.

  • Rick K.

    “Live Shot Garamendi” himself lives in a glass house and therefore shouldn’t case stones. Garamendi was a partner in an investment firm from 1998 to 2001, but is secretive about what he actually did for Yucaipa Cos. By most accounts, it was a big-salary, do-nothing job created by major Democratic political donor Ron Burkle, but it’s likely that he was involved in the same Wall Street wizardry/alchemy that he now derides. See the expose in the December 27, 1999 edition of Forbes magazine: http://www.forbes.com/global/1999/1227/0226024a.html
    Everyone in the “Occupy” movement should realize that Garamendi is a part of the problem, not the solution. He preaches reform, but has personally participated in and profited from the “greed and recklessness” that he now condemns. Any “Occupy” protestors in Walnut Creek this week should direct their ire at Garamendi’s congressional office because he preaches one thing and does another. Hypocrites like Garamendi need to be ousted from power in 2012. People in Vacaville, Fairfield, Dixon and points north can vote out Garamendi in just a few months. So long, “Live Shot Garamendi”!

  • rew

    As a blue collar working class person I strongly support the occupy Wall Street movement. As a nation the topic of greed needs to be number 1 on the agenda. Never in my lifetime has income inequality been as bad as it is today. These people that run major corporations – the corporate managers – and even people that run public agencies, continue to give themselves huge raises in pay – salaries at the top end are just ludicrous. At the same time these corporate managers are trying to chisel workers at the low end, constantly doing take-aways, cutting benefits, cutting hours, moving job overseas, eliminating jobs altogether. This isn’t just happening on Wall Street, the Chancellor at UC Berkeley makes $500,000 a year. The entire time this chancellor has been on the job he’s tried to block the janitors at the University from getting a raise. These paper pusher CEO’s, whether they be in the private sector, or even the public sector, believe they are entitled to live like kings, they believe they should get gargantuan pensions, golden parachutes when they get fired, and when they run the company or public agency they are running into the ground, “bailouts” from the federal goverment.

  • Elwood

    What a bunch of flipping idiots!

  • James M

    All these career politicians here in the bay must be getting desperate. So quick to support a gathering of hacks bent on spreading class envy and hate with no plan or message to build individual or community exceptionalism. Faith, Hope and Charity. If you want a life of success and significance within your community, then value these. If you want misery, strife and anxiety, then join the Occupiers, which is apparently what most of our local representatives have chosen to do. So sadly predictable.

  • richard

    Class envy is not the issue here, it’s about greedy CEO’s, Wall Street types, hedge fund managers, oil company executives and the like running our country into the ground. Where are the jobs? Why are CEO’s making 40 million dollars a year and flying helicopters to work while million are out of work or under-employed? What’s with the proliferation of “private jets” for spoiled executives of corporations? Are tax policies in the US fair? How come Warren Buffet pays less taxes – he made 62 million last year – than the average secretary? How come the CEO of Alta Bates in Oakland is making 4 million a year? Why are all these US jobs being moved overseas? These are all questions everybody in the US ought to be asking. US citizens, voters, make the rules for our economic system. The Occupy Wall Street movement is a grassroots effort to start putting the heat on those who are running our economy into the ground. We need to start talking about greed, and how this undermining our economic system, I think. This is not class warfare, it’s about constructing an economic that works for all Americans,
    not just those who work at the top end of the economic system.

  • This “could” be a Renaissanc­e which is much more palatable, but that would entirely depend upon the greedy and the theives admitting the mistakes and voluntaril­y changing. …. which they won’t. Thus, Viva La Revolucion­!!

  • Elwood

    @ #10

    No, this is just the usual Bay Area melange of anarchists, communists and kooks.

    See how quickly our elected (by their entitlement constituency) dimmiecrat leaders run to jump on the bandwagon.

    Pray for rain.