ThinkProgress filed this report from a town hall event in Muskego, Wisconsin.
When the Occupy Wall Street protests first started, they were met with near universal derision from Republican politicians, with Mitt Romney calling them “dangerous,” House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) claiming they were a “mob,” Herman Cain denouncing them as “un-American,” and Rep. Paul Broun (R-GA) saying the protests are an “attack upon freedom.”
However, as the protests have gained size and media attention, the GOP has been shifting its tune. Today, one of the most prominent Republicans in Congress, House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-WI), when asked about the protests replied, “I don’t disparage anybody who wants to air their grievances.” “If there’s frustration aimed at crony capitalism, corporate welfare, at bailing out connected corporations, I agree with them,” he said:
I don’t disparage anybody who wants to air their grievances, petition their government. As long as nobody gets hurt, and as long no property is destroyed, I think it’s fine people demonstrate to organize themselves. I’m not exactly sure what it is they’re calling for, but if there’s frustration aimed at crony capitalism, corporate welfare, at bailing out connected corporations, I agree with them. We shouldn’t have any more Solyndras, we shouldn’t be picking winners and losers with federal tax dollars by subsidizing, regulating or tax loopholing people with preferences. Let’s get rid of all of that.
Ryan evidently couldn’t resist getting in a dig at Solyndra, the GOP’s favorite faux-scandal of the moment. However, if he truly agrees with the protesters about ending crony capitalism, perhaps he can sort out whether or not he approves of oil subsidies and explain why he is against reining in too-big-to-fail banks. It’s also worth noting that Ryan’s budget plan would dramatically reduce taxes for the wealthy and corporations, placing the brunt of deficit reduction onto low- and middle-income Americans. That’s not exactly the approach that jives with the ideals of the 99 Percent Movement.