As the Occupy Wall Street Protests hit across the nation this May 1, it’s important to remember the support the group has received from the mainstream left. Backers have ranged from pundits like Paul Krugman and Thomas Friedman to Hollywood artists like Kanye West, Mark Ruffalo, and Anne Hathaway.
Former Clinton Labor Secretary Robert Reich made his strong support known by dedicating his latest e-book, “Beyond Outrage,” to the movement. The introduction included this line: “To the Occupiers, and all others committed to taking back our economy and our democracy.” And the book read like a statement of principles for Occupiers everywhere and Reich’s latest assault on what he called the “regressive right.’ He urged readers to “organize against the regressives.”
In a video about the book, Reich promised to explain “why and how our economy is rigged against average working people.” Reich, who is chairman of the lefty group Common Cause and Chancellor’s Professor of Public Policy at the University of California at Berkeley, spent most of the book either bashing conservatives or recommending “progressive” solutions for the U.S. economy.
Even after the dedication, he made his love for the Occupiers obvious: “Score a big one for the Occupiers. Regardless of whether you sympathize with the so-called Occupier movement that began spreading across America last fall, or whether you believe it will become a growing political force in America, it has had a profound effect on the national conversation,” he wrote.
He defended them in a mini rant acting like their criminal actions are covered by the First Amendment. “Instead, they’re clubbed, pepper sprayed, thrown out of public parks, and evicted from public Across America, public officials have said Occupiers have to go. Even in universities— where free speech is supposed to be sacrosanct— peaceful assembly has been met with clubs and pepper spray.”
The book is almost predictable in who and what it attacks – Karl Rove, the Tea Parties, Charles and David Koch, Fox News, Rush Limbaugh and white voters in general. Often some combination of multiples, such as this quote: “today’s Tea Party is less an ideological movement than the latest incarnation of an angry white minority— predominantly southern and mainly rural— that has repeatedly attacked American democracy in order to get its way.” Reich targeted “white” voters seven separate times in the book.
Then there the attacks on people like “Republican political guru Karl Rove,” “the billionaire oil and petrochemical moguls David and Charles Koch” and more. Reich also complained about “the relentless government hating and baiting of Fox News and Rush Limbaugh and his imitators on rage radio.” They and the Tea Party represent the “regressive right,” he wrote. “Their goal is not to conserve the best of what we now have; it is to return America to a time long before we achieved it.”
He compared the progressives who “believe in openness, equal opportunity, and tolerance” with the “stop-at-nothing regressives.”
The last chapter of his book was called “Beyond Outrage: What You Need to Do” and devoted to an offer to support President Obama “as long as he commits to a progressive agenda.”
It includes a lengthy list of talking points, most of which have been prominent in Occupy Wall Street complaints. These include:
- The Tax Rate On The Rich To What It Was Before 1981 – That one included this demand that “income in excess of $ 1 million should be taxed at 70 percent.”
- Put A 2 Percent Surtax On The Wealth Of The Richest One-Half Percent;
- A One-Half Of 1 Percent Tax On All Financial Transactions
- The Military Budget More Than Scheduled Cuts – According to Reich, the government should “finally, take a cleaver to the Navy and Air Force budgets.”
- For Medicare For All
- Savings To Invest In Public Goods— Especially Education And Infrastructure – Reich naturally wants to spend any money on even more government.
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