Q Thank you, Mr. President. As you travel the country, you also take credit for tightening regulations on Wall Street through the Dodd-Frank law, and about your efforts to combat income inequality. There’s this movement — Occupy Wall Street — which has spread from Wall Street to other cities. They clearly don’t think that you or Republicans have done enough, that you’re in fact part of the problem.
Are you following this movement, and what would you say to its — people that are attracted to it?
THE PRESIDENT: Obviously I’ve heard of it. I’ve seen it on television. I think it expresses the frustrations that the American people feel — that we had the biggest financial crisis since the Great Depression, huge collateral damage all throughout the country, all across Main Street, and yet you’re still seeing some of the same folks who acted irresponsibly trying to fight efforts to crack down on abusive practices that got us into this problem in the first place.
So, yes, I think people are frustrated, and the protestors are giving voice to a more broad-based frustration about how our financial system works. Now, keep in mind I have said before and I will continue to repeat, we have to have a strong, effective financial sector in order for us to grow. And I used up a lot of political capital, and I’ve got the dings and bruises to prove it, in order to make sure that we prevented a financial meltdown, and that banks stayed afloat. And that was the right thing to do, because had we seen a financial collapse then the damage to the American economy would have been even worse.
But what I’ve also said is that for us to have a healthy financial system, that requires that banks and other financial institutions compete on the basis of the best service and the best products and the best price, and it can’t be competing on the basis of hidden fees, deceptive practices, or derivative cocktails that nobody understands and that expose the entire economy to enormous risks. That’s what Dodd-Frank was designed to do. It was designed to make sure that we didn’t have the necessity of taxpayer bailouts; that we said, you know what? We’re going to be able to control these situations so that if these guys get into trouble, we can isolate them, quarantine them, and let them fail. It says that we’re going to have a consumer watchdog on the job, all the time, who’s going to make sure that they are dealing with customers in a fair way, and we’re eliminating hidden fees on credit cards, and mortgage brokers are going to have to — actually have to be straight with people about what they’re purchasing.
And what we’ve seen over the last year is not only did the financial sector — with the Republican Party in Congress — fight us every inch of the way, but now you’ve got these same folks suggesting that we should roll back all those reforms and go back to the way it was before the crisis. Today, my understanding is we’re going to have a hearing on Richard Cordray, who is my nominee to head up the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. He would be America’s chief consumer watchdog when it comes to financial products. This is a guy who is well regarded in his home state of Ohio, has been the treasurer of Ohio, the attorney general of Ohio. Republicans and Democrats in Ohio all say that he is a serious person who looks out for consumers. He has a good reputation. And Republicans have threatened not to confirm him not because of anything he’s done, but because they want to roll back the whole notion of having a consumer watchdog.
You’ve got Republican presidential candidates whose main economic policy proposals is, we’ll get rid of the financial reforms that are designed to prevent the abuses that got us into this mess in the first place. That does not make sense to the American people. They are frustrated by it. And they will continue to be frustrated by it until they get a sense that everybody is playing by the same set of rules, and that you’re rewarded for responsibility and doing the right thing as opposed to gaining the system.
So I’m going to be fighting every inch of the way here in Washington to make sure that we have a consumer watchdog that is preventing abusive practices by the financial sector.
I will be hugely supportive of banks and financial institutions that are doing the right thing by their customers. We need them to be lending. We need them to be lending more to small businesses. We need them to help do what traditionally banks and financial services are supposed to be doing, which is providing business and families resources to make productive investments that will actually build the economy. But until the American people see that happening, yes, they are going to continue to express frustrations about what they see as two sets of rules.
I’m putting out a zine! The contributors are as follows:
Dylan Baldi is the sole songwriter and recording member in the band Cloud Nothings.
Rostam Batmanglij is a musician and songwriter in the bands Vampire Weekend and Discovery.
Pete Berkman is the lead songwriter in the band Anamanaguchi.
Joe Coscarelli is an assistant editor at New York Magazine’s Daily Intel blog.
Lena Dunham is a filmmaker.
jj is a Swedish pop group.
Tao Lin is a novelist.
Ryan O’Connell is an editor at Thought Catalog.
Maureen O’Connor is a staff writer at Gawker.
Choire Sicha is the editor of The Awl.
Himanshu Suri is a rapper in the band Das Racist.
Bucky Turco is the editor of Animal New York.
Victor Vazquez is a rapper in the band Das Racist.
Mike Vilensky is a staff writer at The Wall Street Journal.
Jenna Wortham is a staff writer at The New York Times.
The zine will also have a small, private, password-protected Tumblr of supplemental content (zine-related photos, interviews, stories) which you can get the password to by ordering the zine online (I’ll email it to you) or finding the answer to this riddle, which is the password:
What is the first name of the girlfriend of the director in the only 9-minute official music video (presently unavailable in the United States due to copyright issues) by the band whose original guitarist’s older brother was previously in a band whose two other members went on to form a band whose most recent album’s first single prominently features a sample from a song by a now-defunct band whose percussionist is named John Braddock, nicknamed “Dutch”?
Hey! So the password-protected zine supplement Tumblr’s address is http://perfectzine.tumblr.com/. If you already bought a copy online or will buy copy by 11:00 EST tonight, you’ll get an email by around 11:00 EST tonight with the password. After that you’ll get the password right around the time you order, via email. And if you solved the riddle, well, the supplemental content won’t be as much fun without the zine itself, so it’s worth getting a copy I think!
The password is ‘Sofia Coppola’.
When the police brutalize a protester at a soccer game in Brazil, fans chase the cops down and beat the crap out of them in return.
Oakland P.D, beware.
NYPD too, when they’re not applauding and cheering their own corrupt ticket-fixing officers.
Jobs report today is really depressing.
We, the Ben & Jerry’s Board of Directors, compelled by our personal convictions and our Company’s mission and values, wish to express our deepest admiration to all of you who have initiated the non-violent Occupy Wall Street Movement and to those around the country who have joined in solidarity. The issues raised are of fundamental importance to all of us.
* The inequity that exists between classes in our country is simply immoral.
* We are in an unemployment crisis. Almost 14 million people are unemployed. Nearly 20% of African American men are unemployed. Over 25% of our nation’s youth are unemployed.
* Many workers who have jobs have to work 2 or 3 of them just to scrape by.
* Higher education is almost impossible to obtain without going deeply in debt.
* Corporations are permitted to spend unlimited resources to influence elections while stockpiling a trillion dollars rather than hiring people.
They should make a 1% ice cream called Eat Shit And Die. All vanilla.
For immediate release
Contact Daniel Sieradski
Protesters at Occupy Seattle lock arms to defend a sukkah from destruction by the Seattle Police.
This weekend, police in NYC and Seattle forced Jewish protesters to take down temporary…
The Rush Limbaughs of the world are very comfortable with a narrative that has Noam Chomsky, MoveOn and Barack Obama on one side, and the Tea Party and Republican leaders on the other. The rest of the traditional media won’t mind that narrative either, if it can get enough “facts” to back it up. They know how to do that story and most of our political media is based upon that Crossfire paradigm of left-vs-right commentary shows and NFL Today-style team-vs-team campaign reporting.
What nobody is comfortable with is a movement in which virtually the entire spectrum of middle class and poor Americans is on the same page, railing against incestuous political and financial corruption on Wall Street and in Washington. The reality is that Occupy Wall Street and the millions of middle Americans who make up the Tea Party are natural allies and should be on the same page about most of the key issues, and that’s a story our media won’t want to or know how to handle.
Guided By Voices - “Trendspotter Acrobat”
pop culture diplomat throws up on his shoes…
I was about to post this for no other reason than it’s one of my favorite GBV songs and to say it’s worth noting it’s a James Greer song. Since giving credit where it’s due is important, I was going to link to his website or Wikipedia page (decisions! which one?? coin flip?) and as the mystics would have it, he wrote about composing this song just the other week on his website:
The song is a little bit about my then-current disgust at the state of whatever you want to call music journalism (now dissipated in a salt-water bath of nostalgia), and a lot about my still-current self-loathing.