ThinkProgress filed this report from the Values Voters Summit in Washington DC
Republicans, many of whom adopted the Tea Party mantra when that movement began in 2008, have dismissed the ongoing protests on Wall Street as an anti-capitalist, anti-American movement, even as it spreads from its origins in New York to cities across the country. At the Values Voters Summit today, Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) called the protesters “mobs” and accused those supporting it of “condoning the pitting of Americans against Americans,” ignoring the legitimate complaints the protesters have made about the richest Wall Street bankers, many of whom have seen their incomes skyrocket while the average worker’s have stagnated.
In an interview this morning on CNBC, Santorum seemed to join his fellow Republicans, calling the protesters “a fringe group” of the “radical left” that has been protesting since Vietnam:
SANTORUM: Well, you’re talking about a rather fringe group of people out here sitting outside your building. I mean, these are the same old folks that have been protesting since the Vietnam War. … They don’t curry too much favor in my book and I don’t think they do with the American people. This is the radical left.
But at the Values Voters Summit today, Santorum seemed to change his tune. After first dismissing the protests by saying, “This is what the left does,” Santorum told ThinkProgress that while he may disagree with what the protesters wanted to accomplish, there is “legitimate concern about corruption on Wall Street” and that “I understand the motivation behind the protests”:
SANTORUM: I understand the motivation behind the protests. I don’t think what they’re trying to accomplish is what I’d like to see. But clearly, Wall Street should have paid, and in my opinion, still should pay for the consequences of what they’ve done.
Aside from Santorum’s obvious flip-flop, it’s unclear how he wants to hold Wall Street bankers accountable now, considering he opposes the implementation of the Dodd-Frank financial reform act that was meant to rein in big banks and ensure that the type of financial crisis that sparked the recession can’t repeat itself. In a recent interview, Santorum explained that the financial collapse was somehow caused by government regulation, not the massive banking deregulation efforts that preceded the collapse.