New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg says he disagrees with the Occupy Wall Street protesters on who deserves the blame for ordinary Americans' economic woes.
Banks have been at the forefront of Occupy Wall Street's loudest criticisms.The movement labels itself as a group "fighting back against the corrosive power of major banks and multinational corporations over the democratic process." But, when it comes to who's responsible for that "corrosive power", Capital New York reports Bloomberg said he believes the blame rests in Washington.
"I hear your complaints," Bloomberg said at a Tuesday business breakfast. "Some of them are totally unfounded. It was not the banks that created the mortgage crisis. It was, plain and simple, Congress who forced everybody to go and give mortgages to people who were on the cusp."
Former New York Mayor Ed Koch, who was also at the breakfast, took issue with Bloomberg's claim, saying that he wants a major corporate executive to receive a criminal punishment for their actions during the financial crisis, according to The Associated Press.
Sen. Harry Reid (D-Nev.) said on Tuesday that a specific segment of Washington is to blame for the protest movement's gripes. Reid said the GOP is working for the 1 percent. The remarks came in response to Republicans' resistance to a proposal that would provide funding for infrastructure and transportation initiatives.
"Now they take home more than half of all the money earned each year in this great country, even after taxes," said Reid in a floor speech highlighting income inequality. "That means this one percent now makes more than the other 99 percent combined."
While Bloomberg falls into the one-percent bracket, the NYC mayor has been relatively diplomatic regarding the protests. Back on Columbus Day, he noted that as long as the movement stayed within the city's laws, protesters could stay indefinitely.
"The bottom line is -- people want to express themselves. And as long as they obey the laws, we'll allow them to," Bloomberg told the Wall Street Journal. "If they break the laws, then, we're going to do what we're supposed to do: enforce the laws."
But, security may put a wrench in the movement's hopes for sustainability in New York. Protesters camped in Zuccotti Park have been grappling with assault, rape and other criminal behaviors. Occupiers met Monday evening to discuss safety and hopefully tone down the disturbing trend.