“Occupy Congress?” Now You’re Talking!

According to Greg Sargent, labor and progressive organizations are forming a coalition to “Occupy Congress.”

The coalition — which includes unions like SEIU and CWA and groups like the Center for Community Change — is currently working on a plan to bus thousands of protesters from across the country to Washington, where they will congregate around the Capitol from December 5-9, SEIU president Mary Kay Henry tells me in an interview.

“Thousands of people have signed up to come to Capitol Hill during the first week in December,” Henry says, adding that protesters are invited to make their way to Washington on their own, too. “We’re figuring out buses and transportation now.”

One idea under consideration — pending various permitting and other logistical issues — is to have a series of tents set up on the lawn outside the Capitol, each representing a state, with the number of unemployed in each state prominently displayed. But the optics are still being worked out.

The demands they are talking about aren’t very radical though. They’re planning to pressure Republicans to go along with Obama’s jobs proposal. As Sargent points out, that doesn’t really jibe with the nature of the Occupy movement, which rejects both corporate political parties. But Henry argues that

Occupy Wall Street had created a “framework” — which she described as “we are the 99 percent” — within which such activities would fit comfortably.

“The reason we’re targeting Republicans is because this is about jobs,” she said. “The Republicans’ insistence that no revenue can be put on the table is the reason we’re not creating jobs in this country. We want to draw a stark contrast between a party that wants to scapegoat immigrants, attack public workers, and protect the rich, versus a president who has been saying he wants America to get back to work and that everybody should pay their fair share.”

It’s a start, and the SEIU may not be able to control the message if lots of people with more creative ideas show up to the protests.

In line with the influence of the Occupy actions on the mainstream types, I clicked on a Google news link to the conservative Washington Times that read “Occupy Wall Street: What should be done with the protesters?” I expected to find a screed encouraging law enforcement to crush the protesters. Imagine my surprise when I read this instead:

As irritating or disruptive as some may find the Occupiers, they are the conscience of America, like it or not. Their very physical presence is a reminder that the decline of America happened not because they didn’t believe in the American dream, but because the greed of Wall Street and the banks stole that dream.

Yet our government continues to reward the top 1% with corporate welfare and the lowest taxes in more than 50 years. And Congress, which made that largesse to the wealthy possible, is in the pockets of those very same people and their lobbyists.

Yes, the protesters are predominately young, unemployed, maybe even scruffy, and, yes, the homeless have found a haven and free meals with them, and, yes, the Occupiers’ persistence after more than two months is like a mote in our eye, reminding us all that we can no longer do business as usual.

The fact that OWS sites have sprung up across the country and now the world has prompted us to face ourselves. We can no longer ignore the joblessness and poverty that scars our great country. It is not an abstract concept, some numbers on a bean counters’ balance sheet. It’s real. It’s people. It’s your kids and mine. It’s returning vets who find themselves on the scrap heap of our economy.

Holy sh&t! Can you believe it? Could it be that change is really happening?


13 Comments on ““Occupy Congress?” Now You’re Talking!”

  1. Peggy Sue says:

    Good piece, BB. The article from the Washington Times is a credit to the OWS protesters, who through their perseverence have changed the national discourse and stopped the puppet show and excuses that the financial meltdown and then the Wall St. heist [bailouts] were somehow ‘unavoidable, unforeseeable,” rather than a product of greed and corruption. And those hurt the worst? The American public, people who lost jobs, houses, lives. The manufacturers of this mess [with the exception of a Bernie Madoff] have gotten off scott free to go on and repeat the same risky behavior. Arrogantly, too. I thought this was one of the most infuriating reports I read:

    “A writer for the Minneapolis CityPages managed to worm his way into a presentation to the annual meeting of the Minnesota Chamber of Commerce by US Bank’s CEO, Richard Davis. Even though Occupy Minnesota was protesting outside, Davis chose to ignore them. His speech made clear that the business community does not care about long-term self interest, let alone social responsibility. Housing and the foreclosure crisis were absent from the 2012 legislative priorities. But tax reform, which is code for shifting even more of the cost of government on to the small fry? Yeah, that’s a big deal.

    Davis’ apparent lone comment on the public ire against the banks was dismissive:

    “‘Everybody’s breaking the rules, blah blah blah,” Davis said at one point, mocking the general sentiment behind the public outrage before admonishing them to “Get over it.”

    Full piece at:

    http://www.nakedcapitalism.com/2011/11/hubris-watch-us-bank-ceo-sniffs-about-breaking-rules-when-his-bank-has-huge-trustee-liability.html

    Get over it??? Davis ought to be swinging from a lamp post.

    The action in DC planned for December? I’m somewhat ambivalent about that since the unions pressing the Republicans is only half right. Yes, the Republicans have been deliberate obstructionists but Obama and his court of apologists have never been the populists they’d now like to pretend to be. The Jobs Bill is a step in the right direction but it’s not nearly bold enough. But that’s because Obama is not bold, nor does he appreciate [or care] about the middle classes’ growing economic instability and desperation. He’s more concerned about his own reelection prospects. And sorry, running around the country yelling: “Pass this Bill” is not leadership. It’s showmanship.

    That’s the real tragedy–there are few real advocates working in the public’s behalf.

    Anyway, good read!

    • madamab says:

      Agreed, Peggy Sue, with all the caveats you mentioned…and great post, BB!

      I have been saying for months that I thought the Occupiers’ real target should be DC. Finally they are getting it, if only halfway.

    • bostonboomer says:

      Wow, Davis is a complete A-hole! Thanks for passing that on. I was disappointed when I saw these people were focusing on the jobs bill, but they’re encouraging anyone to come. It could still make a difference if people show up in great numbers.

  2. mjames says:

    I don’t like the sound of it. I suspect Occupy DC is the work of Dem operatives (Rahm? Daley?), out to co-opt the entire Occupy movement by blatantly pushing for something Obama, especially his crappy legislation, when Occupy has studiously avoided endorsing anything coming from either party. The union leadership is part of the 1%, period. Isn’t SEIU a big Obama supporter? Not to mention the leadership of any “progressive” organization? This is Dem machinery at work.

    I’m telling you this stinks. Obama is going to claim Occupy DC supports him. Then he’ll claim HE represents the change Occupy is seeking. Why look at the crowds supporting “his” mahvelous, simply mahvelous jobs proposal. I cannot endorse this action. We don’t need no union busing. We don’t need no messaging from union bigwigs or anybody else. We don’t need their money – which always comes with strings attached. If Occupy wants to do DC, then Occupy can do it – without “help” from party apparatchiks. This is a trick.

    • northwestrain says:

      0bama plays mind games — he’s a passive aggressive — so yes I agree with mjames — Occupy needs to stay away from the party apparatchiks.

    • Peggy Sue says:

      I don’t trust Obama and his supporters either. They’ll do anything and everything they can to pretend they support anything that faintly resembles a populist point of view. But who is trying to get a sweet-heart deal for the banks on this foreclosure mess, settle for pennies on the dollar and make sure future suits are squshed? Obama and his dedicated crew.. He’s claimed all along there’s no criminal activity involved. Where’s Eric Holder and the DOJ even with a cursory investigation? Nowhere.

      Only several state Attorney Generals have gone their own way, the most recent the Nevada AG, who announced a 600-count indictment against two mid-level title managers over the robosigning scandal. It’s thought this may open the door to other criminal investigations, putting upper management fatcats on the grill. We shall see. Politically, this could be very damaging to both Democrats and Republicans, who we now know were raking in tons of money through insider trading–information they gleaned through their committees and well-heeled Wall St. ‘friends.’ Of course, they’re denying this but unless this is another coincidence marvel, they’ve developed a golden touch when it comes to investment deals.Guess this explains why so many of our representatives are millionaires.

      The fish rots from the head, as they say.

      Story here:

      http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-503544_162-57325148-503544/new-details-on-visas-attempt-to-influence-pelosi/

      There’s a 60 Minute clip at the bottom of the page. Lovely!

    • thewizardofroz says:

      ” Isn’t SEIU a big Obama supporter?”

      “SEIU’s 2.1 million members … are proud to announce our endorsement of President Barack Obama for reelection. President Obama fights for working families,” said SEIU International President Mary Kay Henry. “He made working families a priority while other leaders sided with corporations and millionaires.”

      What a load of b.s.!

      http://thehill.com/blogs/ballot-box/presidential-races/193927-seiu-endorses-obama-for-reelection

      Roz in NJ/NYC

  3. The Rock says:

    “The reason we’re targeting Republicans is because this is about jobs,” she said. “The Republicans’ insistence that no revenue can be put on the table is the reason we’re not creating jobs in this country. We want to draw a stark contrast between a party that wants to scapegoat immigrants, attack public workers, and protect the rich, versus a president who has been saying he wants America to get back to work and that everybody should pay their fair share.”

    Because of the lack of a policy direction, I havent had much faith in the movement. Likr the Tea Party before them, their motives are pure and their spirits are righteous. But without a direction or a message, this movement that had the opportunity to be a real beacon for change, is setting itself up to be co-opted by the corrupt democrats, i.e. Bumbles and his ilk. I find it strange that the unions are going to specifically target the republicans over a jobs bill that they themselves admit won’t really create jobs. Being that those groups are a powerful enough political organization that can garner audience with the Chairs of the most powerful committees in the Senate and the White House, why not push for congressional action on the root cause of the problem – money in politics? I hope Occupy Congress doesn’t turn into the rallying cry that the dems will try and use to stay in office. That would be completely disingenuous(sp) and shameful to boot.

    Asshats.

    Hillary 2012

  4. Mr. Mike says:

    Maybe if they get labor unions involved?

    You know Iron Workers, Truck Drivers and Loaders, Electrical Workers and Auto Workers.

  5. Minkoff Minx says:

    I think it is good that they are taking some form of protest directly to the assholes that helped get us to this point…but I don’t think focusing on Obama’s jobs bill is the right thing to do…they should be fighting for more decisive “demand” that would have more impact for the people they are representing…the 99%.