Entries in Occupy Wall Street (13)


Mitt Romney Gets 'Occupied' at Iowa Rally

ABC News(CLIVE, Iowa) -- For the first time since launching his presidential campaign, Mitt Romney got a visit from Occupy Wall Street protesters during a rally Monday night just outside Des Moines, Iowa.

Midway through his stump speech, Romney was interrupted by protesters shouting their rallying cry, “Mic check!”  Nearly immediately, the protesters were drowned out by cheers from the crowd of more than 500 with chants of “Mitt! Mitt! Mitt!”

One member in the crowd screamed back at the protesters, “Get a job!”

Romney, audibly laughing at the outspoken crowd member, addressed the protesters: “Thanks guys, let’s talk about the Constitution again."

But the protesters kept chanting, “Stop the war on the poor!  Stop the war on the poor!”

“Thanks guys,” Romney responded again, looking around as security escorted the individuals outside.  “Isn’t it great to live in a country where people can express their views?”

“It’s a great country,” he said.  “I love it.”

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Occupy Iowa: Police Arrest 5 Outside Ron Paul’s Office

Alex Wong/Getty Images(ANKENY, Iowa) -- Ron Paul has been officially occupied. A handful of Occupy Des Moines members blocked the entrance to Paul’s campaign headquarters in Ankeny, Iowa, on Thursday, demanding that the front-runner in the GOP primary race retract his pledge to cut the EPA if he’s elected president.

The police arrested five of the demonstrators and charged them with trespassing, according to Danielle Ryun, a member of the group.

Ryun said the protesters had planned to blockade Paul’s office until he formally rescinded his often repeated vow to dismantle the EPA. “I feel like we were effective as long as we were getting the message out to voters,” she said.

Occupy Des Moines doesn’t have formal plans to restart the blockade, Ryun said after the protesters were arrested in the morning.

The Occupy movement has targeted the campaign trail in Iowa in the days leading up to the state’s caucus on Jan. 3. On Tuesday, members held a “people’s caucus” to plan the disruption of the presidential campaigns. Recently, protesters ambushed Newt Gingrich and Mitt Romney.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


'Occupiers' Plan Week of Protests Ahead of Iowa Caucuses

Spencer Platt/Getty Images(DES MOINES, Iowa) -- An offshoot of the Occupy Wall Street movement met Tuesday evening to organize and plan protests in Iowa’s capitol during the week leading up to the state’s caucuses next Tuesday.

About 200 people involved in the "Occupy the Caucuses" movement met in East Des Moines and split up into groups by the GOP candidates they want to “occupy” this week.  Protesters have said they will also camp out outside President Obama’s headquarters.

At the beginning of the session, protesters aired grievances that they wanted to raise at the candidates’ headquarters this week, and then attendees split into groups by candidate.  The issues included ending the war in Afghanistan, campaign finance reform and higher education and health care costs, among other topics.

David Goodner, one of the organizers of the event, said protesters will go to the candidate they have “the most beef with.”  They will return to their temporary headquarters in East Des Moines every morning at 10 a.m. before they head out to sit outside the offices.

And, as Goodner explained, it’s not just candidates’ office that will be targeted: “It could be blockading the doors at Wells Fargo to try to shut down the largest mortgage lender in the country who has their headquarters in Des Moines, Iowa.  It’s really up to the people in this room to decide what form their protest will take, but those are … some of the tactics that are on the table.”

"Occupy the Caucuses," however, has pledged to be non-violent and not to disrupt the actual caucuses that are one week away.  At the end of the event, which drew young and old and was titled the "People’s Caucus," the crowd made a verbal pledge to stay nonviolent, although Goodner added they may target campaign parties in Des Moines on caucus night.

“We’re not going to interfere or interrupt the caucuses because our targets are Wall Street, big corporations, and the politicians that carry the water for them -- not every day voters,” Goodner said.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


White House: Cities Should Determine How to Handle Occupy Protests

Spencer Platt/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Following the police raid on Occupy Wall Street protesters in New York, the White House said it’s up to each city to determine how to handle the demonstrations.

“The President’s position is that obviously every municipality has to make its own decisions about how to handle these issues,” White House Press Secretary Jay Carney told reporters aboard Air Force One.

Carney said the President was “aware” from reports that protesters had been evicted early Tuesday morning from Zuccotti Park, where they had camped out for weeks.

“We would hope and want, as these decisions are made, that it balances between a long tradition of freedom of assembly and freedom of speech in this country, and obviously of demonstrating and protesting, and also the very important need to maintain law and order and health and safety standards, which was obviously a concern in this case,” Carney said.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Political Protests Capitalizing on 'Occupy' Brand?

ABC News Radio(WASHINGTON) -- At least a few hundred gathered Friday night to protest in front of the Walter E. Washington Convention Center, where Americans for Prosperity, a political advocacy group founded by billionaire brothers Charles and David Koch, was hosting a gala.

On the surface, the "Occupy the Koches: Guerilla Drive-In" event looked like any other "Occupy" movement protest against the proverbial 1 percent of the population who hold the nation's wealth.

But a confederation of long-established progressive political advocacy groups—the Campaign for America's Future, Campaign for Community Change, Common Cause, Health Care for America Now and the aptly named Other 98 Percent—were behind Friday's protest.

"This was the first time that there was something like that, where a bunch of groups put together this guerilla drive-in and 'Occupy' people marched out, which we were super happy with," said Alex Lawson, an organizer for the Other 98 Percent.

It was the group's second "drive-in," staged like an outdoor movie-theater, with videos projected onto building exteriors. The first was held in New York, at Lincoln Center's David H. Koch Theater.

With a 30-foot Wall Street banker fat cat balloon, a movie projector and a professional PA system, the event certainly had the look and sound of the grassroots "Occupy" movement.

D.C. metro police officers stood in front of the convention center doors blocking protesters, some of whom shouted at the police officers and jeered at those inside the center, whom the police were there to protect.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Bachmann Targets Occupy Wall Street, Warns of US 'Banana Republic'

Win McNamee/Getty Images(AMES, Iowa) -- Politics, not capitalism, is to blame for the economic crisis and Occupy Wall Street protesters should target Washington rather than businesses that create jobs, Rep. Michele Bachmann, R-Minn., said in a speech Thursday in Ames, Iowa.

The economy is flailing because politicians are worried only about protecting their friends, said Bachmann, who compared that sort of cronyism to so-called “banana republics.”

“A vocal minority called Occupy Wall Street believes that the problem we face is capitalism or free markets. It’s not. The problem is government doing what both the constitution and decent morality prohibit, that is cronyism capitalism, or forcefully taking your money for the purpose of paying off a politician’s political friends,” Bachmann told students at Iowa State University.

“For your sake and your future, America, and Occupy Wall Street in particular, needs to wake up and stop blaming job creators for the failures created by selfish politicians who wink at their political donors,” she said.

Politicians, she said, made too many backroom deals with friends and donors that undermine the free market.

“The problem is politicians who wink at political donors and through the force of law put their competitors out of business. Politicians assure their friends that with government’s financial backing, their businesses will never fail,” she said.

That sort of cronyism "happens every day, and it has to stop,” she said. “After all, we’re not a Banana Republic; we’re the United States of America and we need to act like it."

Bachmann also used the event to draw a distinction between her proposed tax plan and those of her competitors, particularly Herman Cain, who supports a flat tax, and Texas Gov. Rick Perry, who wants to give taxpayers a choice between the current system or a flat tax.

Bachmann, who supports a “fairer, flatter” system, does not support a single flat tax, but does support “abolishing” the current tax code.

“To accomplish a fairer, flatter and simpler tax system will take a complete reform of the tax system. It means abolishing what we currently have and starting over again.”

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Deficit Super Committee Interrupted by Protests

Mark Wilson/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- The Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction, also known as the Super Committee, held its first public meeting in more than a month and it didn’t take long to see why it may be more productive for the committee to deliberate privately rather than for it to hold open hearings.

As members of the committee took their seats around the dais and co-chair Sen. Patty Murray prepared to call the meeting to a start, a CodePink protester jumped out of his seat holding a sign.

“This committee is not democratic,” the demonstrator said. “I speak on behalf of the 99 percent who are occupied. We are the people who are not being heard by this committee.”

The man sat down and Murray called the committee to order, and reminded the audience not to demonstrate -- but she allowed him to stay.

About 90 minutes into the hearing, as CBO director Doug Elmendorf finished answering a question from Rep. Dave Camp, another demonstrator walked to the front of the room and stood next to the witness table as she called on the committee to “tax the rich and end the war.”

“That’s how we fix the deficit,” the woman said. “And all this obfuscation with percentages of GDP -- this is just trying to confuse the issue.”

The woman was arrested and pulled out of the room by U.S. Capitol Police officers. A spokeswoman for the department says the demonstrator was charged with unlawful conduct/disruption of Congress and is was processed at headquarters.

The rest of the hearing proceeded without a hitch as the committee discussed alternative methods to identify and count savings, analyzing discretionary outlays on security and non-security spending.

Elmendorf said that the economic impact of the country’s unsustainable fiscal path, “matters in short-run” in part due to borrowing the government has already committed, which he said could “crowd out private investment” and is compounded by uncertainty facing American families and small businesses.

Rep. Fred Upton, the chairman of the House committee on Energy and Commerce, asked Elmendorf for the latest date the Super Committee could provide a draft to the Congressional Budget Office in order to score the proposal and still leave enough time for the panel to vote prior to its Nov. 23 deadline.

Elmendorf warned the 12-member committee that time is running short.

“Our legion of skilled analysts are working very hard for this committee already,” Elmendorf said. “If you have a set of proposals that would make changes across a range of mandatory spending programs, then that would require us some weeks to work with legislative counsel and the staff of this committee in refining the legislative language to accomplish the objectives that your setting out to accomplish, and then for us to produce a cost estimate, and backing up from Thanksgiving, that left us looking at the beginning of November, which we are very aware, as you are Congressman, is not very far away.”

The committee will hold another open hearing Nov. 1, when the principal architects of two other deficit reduction proposals will testify. Alice Rivlin and former Sen. Pete Dominici will head the first panel while Alan Simpson and Erskine Bowles will appear before the committee on a second panel to discuss their alternative packages for savings.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Obama: Occupy Wall Street ‘Not That Different’ from Tea Party Protests

Spencer Platt/Getty Images(JAMESTOWN, N.C.) -- President Obama, who has become a target of the Occupy Wall Street protests sweeping the country, on Tuesday embraced the economic frustration voiced on the streets and said in an exclusive interview with ABC News that his vision for the U.S. economic system is best suited to resolve protesters’ concerns.

“I understand the frustrations being expressed in those protests,” Obama told ABC News senior White House correspondent Jake Tapper in the interview to air Tuesday evening on ABC News' Nightline from Jamestown, N.C.

“In some ways, they’re not that different from some of the protests that we saw coming from the Tea Party. Both on the left and the right, I think people feel separated from their government. They feel that their institutions aren’t looking out for them,” he said.

[Click here to see video from ABC News' exclusive interview with President Obama]

Obama said the most important thing he can do as president is express solidarity with the protesters and redouble his commitment to achieving what he described as a more egalitarian society.

Obama alluded to his American Jobs Act, which would be funded in part by raising taxes on wealthier Americans and some corporations in order to make them pay “their fair share.”

“We’re at a critical moment in this country where if we can regain some of the values that helped build this country that people, I think, long for, when they feel that everybody gets a fair shake but we’re also asking a fair share from everybody, if we can go back to that then I think a lot of that anger, that frustration dissipates,” he said.

Obama acknowledged that widespread popular frustration is directed at him because of the administration’s failure to jumpstart job creation and economic growth. But he shrugged off the suggestion that he could have done more from the start, including focusing less on health care legislation.

“You ever wonder that if you had focused entirely, exclusively, not to take away your work on health care and Wall Street reform, but if you had just focus on jobs as some people suggest you should have been doing, that maybe it would be different than now?” Tapper asked Obama.

“Probably not,” Obama replied. “Every day, I think about other things we could be doing different and the truth of the matter is, we passed a very big recovery act that we knew was going to take some time to take effect. It made a difference.”

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


GOP Tells Occupy Wall Street: Blame the Democrats, Not the Rich

Scott Eells/Bloomberg via Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- The Occupy Wall Street movement spread worldwide this weekend, with demonstrations in 950 cities and 82 countries, but Republican presidential hopeful Herman Cain said Sunday he doesn't understand what they are after and that their anger is misdirected.

"What is their message? That's what's unclear," Cain, the new frontrunner in the GOP race according to an NBC/Wall Street Journal poll, said on NBC's Meet the Press. "If their message is let's punish the rich, I don't empathize with that message. They should be protesting the White House."

Just days ago, the protesters marched to the homes of some of the wealthiest "1 percent" as the protesters call them, including Rupert Murdoch and David Koch, whose support has helped fund Cain's campaign.

Cain has denounced protesters, saying that they should blame themselves -- not corporations or the super-rich -- if they are not wealthy themselves. In a New York Times op-ed he wrote that they are hypocrites who would "rather have a handout than work."

Like Cain, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor said the OWS demonstrators should be holding Democrats accountable, but he also dialed back on his earlier criticism of the movement, instead expressing some sympathy for the plight of the demonstrators, who he had previously called a "mob."

"I think more important than my use of the word is the fact that there is a growing frustration out there across this country and it's warranted. People -- too many people are out of work," Cantor said on Fox News Sunday. "But where I'm most concerned is we have elected leaders in this town who, frankly, are joining in the effort to blame others rather than focus on the policies that have brought about the current situation."

Democrats have tried to claim the protests as sympathetic with their own goals. At the dedication ceremony for the new Martin Luther King memorial in Washington, D.C., President Obama said that King would have supported the movement.

"If he were alive today, I believe that he would remind us that the unemployed worker can rightly challenge the excesses of Wall Street without demonizing all who work there," he said.

Obama called Cantor out last week, asking him to explain "what exactly in this jobs bill does he not believe in."

But Cantor said Sunday he is not the only one who does not believe in the president's jobs plan.

"Well, the plan in total was one that was met with a lot of resistance, frankly, on both sides of the aisle when the president unveiled it in September," Cantor said. "And so, when the president spoke that night, I said, let's work together, stop the all-or-nothing approach. We're not going to be for tax increases on small businesses. He knows that."

One of the most hotly debated aspects of the plan is the proposed millionaire surtax, called the Buffett Rule, after billionaire Warren Buffett who said the wealthy should be taxed more. The plan would seek a new tax base rate to ensure that millionaires pay at least the same percentage as middle income Americans.

The plan faces tough opposition among conservatives, and Cantor said it disenfranchises the wealthy.

"I mean, these are policies that they put into place and there's a lot that can be done here in this town to turn the economy around, and promote against income mobility and not go in and excoriate some who have been successful," he said. "We want success for everybody."

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Dems Betting on Assist from ‘Occupy Wall Street’

Spencer Platt/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Democrats in particular have managed their responses to the Occupy Wall Street movement, hoping to seize the protests’ organizing opportunities.

Rep. Brad Miller, D-N.C., said on ABC’s Top Line Wednesday that after attending an Occupy Raleigh event over the weekend, he’s convinced that the “Occupy” forces can help Democrats move legislation on Capitol Hill. He hopes that will start with his proposal to make it much easier for customers to move accounts between banks.

“I’ve been working on it with all the usual consumer groups that I’ve worked on other consumer financial protection issues with, and what we’ve lacked is a real popular movement behind it,” Miller said.

“If Occupy Wall Street will provide some of that energy coming up with a legislative agenda that accomplishes what they want to accomplish, [it] is not going to be that hard. We need both things. We need kind of a wonkish detail -- attention to detail, policy detail -- and then we need real energy, a real popular movement behind it. And that is what I think Occupy Wall Street offers, or promises.”

Of the rally he attended Sunday in his home state, Miller said, “I went unannounced and I wasn’t one of the organizers or anything, just to meet the people and see what they had to say. And I’m sure there were some people there who were kind of fringe, but I knew some of the people there and they were maybe kind of liberal."

“They certainly were Democrats, but they were certainly in the mainstream, and they had the same frustrations that I think most Americans feel,” he added.

The protesters, he said, believe "there’s a great sense of injustice in what is going on in our economy in the last several years, really the last generation."

“The people who caused it, and are really blameworthy for having caused it, have not suffered. And the people who really have suffered -- who’ve lost their jobs, who’ve lost their homes to foreclosure -- they were entirely blameless. There’s a great sense of injustice and a sense that our economy is not working as it should, and it’s controlled by a handful of people who are running it for their own benefit,” Miller said.

Miller said his proposal, introduced amid customer anger at new fees being imposed by Bank of America, would allow customers to better take advantage of the free market.

“It needs to be easy,  it should be easy to move your account. So the stickiness of banking relationships -- of consumer banking -- is very deliberate, and it’s entirely unnecessary,” he said. “It should be possible for you to walk into a new bank and say, ‘I’ve compared. You’re a better deal for me than my old bank.’”

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio