Eric Cantor says Wall Street protesters are ‘mobs’ as Democrats offer support

Zachary Roth
Senior National Affairs Reporter
The Lookout

The Wall Street protesters are finally getting the attention they have been seeking, it seems. Eric Cantor, the No. 2 Republican in the House, denounced the Occupy Wall Street protests Friday as "mobs," and Michael Bloomberg, the mayor of New York, charged demonstrators with "trying to take away the jobs of people working in this city."

Cantor, the House majority leader and a Republican from Virginia, told a gathering of conservative activists in Washington that he's "increasingly concerned" by the "growing mobs" at the protests, which have spread to Los Angeles, Boston, Washington D.C., and other cities after starting several weeks ago on Wall Street.

Democrats are beginning to express support for the demonstrations, and Paul Krugman, the influential liberal columnist,  suggests they could be the start of something big.The protesters have resisted issuing specific demands, but they have expressed anger at growing inequality and at the distorting influence of money--particularly money from the financial industry--on the political system.

Cantor's expression of alarm was echoed by Bloomberg. "You can't have it both ways," the mayor said during a radio appearance. "If you want jobs you have to assist companies and give them confidence to go and hire people."

Bloomberg spent most of his life as a Democrat, but he ran for mayor in 2001 as a Republican and has since become an independent. The founder of a media company focused on the financial industry, he has generally been a reliable backer of Wall Street.

"The protests that are trying to destroy the jobs of working people in this city aren't productive," Bloomberg said.

But a growing number of Democrats is embracing the protests as a grassroots uprising against the big banks and their political supporters.

"God bless them for their spontaneity." Nancy Pelosi, the House minority leader and a Democrat from California, said of the demonstrators.

The House's No. 4 Democrat, John Larson of Connecticut, went further. "The silent masses aren't so silent anymore," Larson said earlier this week. "They are fighting to give voice to the struggles that everyday Americans are going through. While I don't condone their every action, I applaud their standing up for what they believe in."

And Krugman, a New York Times columnist and key liberal opinion-shaper, wrote Friday that "we may, at long last, be seeing the rise of a popular movement that, unlike the Tea Party, is angry at the right people."

President Obama has been cautiously positive about the Occupy events. "The protesters are giving voice to a more broad-based frustration about how our financial system works," he said during a Thursday press conference.

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