Vice President Joe Biden likened the Occupy Wall Street movement to the tea party at a forum in Washington on Thursday, saying both were driven by middle-class frustration with government bailouts of corporate America.
“What is the core of that protest, and why is it increasing in terms of the people its attracting? The core is that the bargain has been breached with the American people. The core is that the American people do not think the system is fair or on the level,” Biden said at forum sponsored by the Atlantic magazine and the Aspen Institute at the Newseum in Washington.
“There’s a lot in common with the tea party,” Biden said. “The tea party started why? TARP. They thought it was unfair we were bailing out the big guys.”
He cited Bank of American’s new monthly $5 debit card fee as a symbol of public unease.
“Banks are part of the problem in the economy,” he said. “The American people know -- they don’t guess, they know -- the reason the CEO of the Bank of America, or anybody in that business, is in the business is because they, that guy making 50,000 bucks bailed him out, bailed him out. Put his financial security on the line when his government said we’re gonna come up with a trillion-plus dollars to bail him out.”
Of Bank of America, Biden said, “At a minimum, they are incredibly tone deaf. At a minimum. At a maximum, they are not paying their fair share of the bargain here. And middle-class people are getting killed.”
The vice president’s remarks came shortly before President Obama, at a news conference, was also asked about the progressive protests, which began in New York but have since spread to other cities.
“I think it expresses the frustrations the American people feel, that we had the biggest financial crisis since the Great Depression, huge collateral damage all throughout the country ... and yet you’re still seeing some of the same folks who acted irresponsibly trying to fight efforts to crack down on the abusive practices that got us into this in the first place,” Obama said.