Jesse is accused of being an elitist, for saying the Tea Party was manipulated into voting against their own interests! at 35:30
Video and audio from today's Occupy Democracy Panel Discussion sponsored by WNYC Radio and moderated by host Brian Lehrer, taking place at the station's Greene Space.
In a special event today at the Greene Space, Brian Lehrer hosted former New York Governor Eliot Spitzer, Crain's business journalist Greg David, New York Federal Reserve Deputy Chairwoman Kathryn Wylde, and Occupy Wall Street organizer Jesse LaGreca for a dialogue (not diatribe) about the direction of the Occupy protests and the country at large.
Or view the video here
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Some choice quotes:
"The idea that if we cut wages to the bone, cut spending to the bone, if we just don't invest anything else and just trust these 'job creators' to do the jobs for us, it just hasn't happened," LaGreca said. "It's not going to happen, and we really need to shift away from that paradigm."
LaGreca's bottom line was that trickle-down economics, as he saw it, hadn't served the country well for the past 25 years. Concessions made to "job creators" in the form of bailouts, deregulation, and lower taxes have not done much to create jobs.
LaGreca agreed that the purpose of a corporation is profit, but pointed out that government policy over the past few decades, which has been heavily influenced by business interests, often favors the profit margins of those interests above all else. "When we also let corporations then dictate the rules of society by which they operate, then crisis occurs," LaGreca said.
"Wall Street has been the goose that laid the golden egg, not just for New York, but for the country," Wylde said. "There's a threat that if we do too much, we increase the unemployment problem in the country, we increase the wealth disparity, because people won't get the beneifts of support services paid for by these profits."
Yes, if we cut back on exorbitant profits and bonuses of the 1%, this will cause unemployment among the rest of the population, so we 'shouldn't do too much'. Mayor Bloomberg already tried that argument at the outset of OWS.
Wylde wasn't sure how you punish Wall Street for financial crises without shaking up the American economy for the worse. But there was one area of regulation that should Wylde said should be tapped—if anyone could figure out how to make it happen.
"Clearly the biggest failure in financial regulation was the failure to deal with outrageous compensation," Wylde said. "It's a real failing and I think it's because nobody in this country knows how to do it."
Unfortunately, Elliot Spitzer is no longer governor of New York, and Andrew Cuomo, who will let the surtax on millionaires expire, is:
For his part, former Governor Eliot Spitzer said he would raise taxes on the highest earners if he were still in office, but everyone on the panel agreed you have to do more than just raise taxes.
"You do tax the wealthy," Spitzer said, "you do try to lift the bottom, you do invest in education, you do invest in infrastructure...It requires capital. The problem is, the same [business] interests, they lobby vociferously against the very expenditures that would make this possible."
Spitzer lumped David and Wylde into this lobbying group of corporate "interests" that block spending on infrastructure. Wylde vehemently denied the accusation.
What does Occupy Wall Street say? What's their list of demands? Higher taxes, more spending, debt forgiveness—we hear a lot of ideas from protesters that they don't necessarily all agree upon, but what's one that they can all rally around?
LaGreca kept coming back to the Citizens United Supreme Court decision.
"One of the things I did not see in the Constitution was corporate personhood," LaGreca said. "I saw welfare, I saw taxation, I saw tariffs. I didn't see corporate personhood anywhere."
Brian Lehrer asked LaGreca straight up if Occupy Wall Street, as their number one demand, could get behind a constitutional amendment repealing the Citizens United ruling. LeGreca said it wasn't for him to choose a primary directive for the movement, but that it was definitely something they could all agree on