Eric Cantor Backtracks After Calling Occupy Wall Street 'Growing Mobs,' But Does Not Apologize

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House Minority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va., who earlier called the burgeoning Occupy Wall Street protest movement for economic and fiscal reform growing mobs, Sunday dropped that description of the activists.

Cantor said the activists, like many Americans, are upset because they are out of work and their sense of security for the future is not clear at all, Bloomberg News reported.

However, Cantor didn't apologize for calling the protesters growing mobs last week. Still, he didn't accept Fox News Sunday Host Chris Wallace's challenge to stand by his comment against a movement that 54 percent of Americans rate positively, according to a recent Time poll, thehill.com reported Monday.

Cantor Says Democratic Party Policies Created the Problem

I think more important than my use of that word is the fact that there is a growing frustration out there across this country (that) too many people are out of work, said Cantor. But ... we have elected leaders in this town who frankly are joining in an effort to blame others rather than focusing on the [Democratic] policies that have brought the current situation.

Cantor said Congress should be focused on getting individuals at the top of the income scale to put their money to work to create more jobs to close the income gap.

Occupy Wall Street's demands and grievances are numerous and varied, but one general theme is that the coalition believes both public policy and tax law changes in the past 30 years have resulted in a society in which the rich/upper income groups, including banks/financial institutions, are reaping most of the financial rewards from society, at the expense of everyone else, including the middle class, the working class, the working poor, and the poor.

Occupy Wall Street argues this trend in society is anti-democratic and unjust: the coalition says public policy should change to help create a more-fair, more-egalitarian society -- one in which the decisions are made by a majority of the people and serve everyone -- not by and for the rich/upper income groups, the coalition argues.

Occupy Wall Street has emphasized a nonhierarchical structure, and that's perhaps one reason they haven't issued a formal list of demands, but most groups in the coalition appear to agree on several points: 1) Increasing taxes on the rich/upper income groups -- in the group's phraseology, the wealthiest 1 percent of society -- to get them to pay what the coalition argues is their fair share in taxes; 2) A large increase in federal spending to create jobs to lower the 9.1. percent U.S. unemployment rate, improve the nation's infrastructure and education system, and better fund other social programs, such as health care; 3) Protection for Social Security and Medicare entitlements; 4) New laws to strengthen unions, encourage collective bargaining, and boost union membership; 5) An end to corporate welfare tax laws and programs; and 6) Some form of debt relief for middle- and working-class citizens, as well as the poor.

Political/Public Policy Analysis: U.S. Rep. Cantor's comments reflect a deficiency in the Republican caucus, on several counts. First, in the face of human suffering, it's hard to fault a demonstration by people who urgently need work that's designed to raise conscientiousness regarding their plight.

Second, Cantor's comments call in to question his commitment to the U.S. social compact.

Third, at a minimum, when one sees an activist movement from a coalition seeking social change to meet a basic need, common sense dictates that one should not say anything that insults the coalition. Cantor's comments either reflect a tone-deafness to the protesters' plight or an inflated sense of self-confidence in his ability to win re-election even if the political wind shifts in favor of Occupy Wall Street-backed candidates.   

In other words, in one short phrase Cantor telegraphed that he doesn't see an urgency, does support the social compact, and doesn't re2pect his fellow citizens -- not exactly the type of campaign ad matter you want playing over and over again in an election year.

 

 

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