ThinkProgress filed this report from the Western Republican Leadership Conference in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Late last week, hundreds of Nevadans marched through the streets of Las Vegas to protest corporate greed and rampant inequality. The diverse group, which included people of all races and ages – we saw kids as young as one and senior citizens as old as 80 – railed on Thursday against a political culture where the top 1 percent could use money and power to buy access, while everyone else has seen stagnating incomes and an explosion in debt.
The next day, Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT) spoke at the Venetian Hotel nearby where the rally had taken place. The longtime Utah senator dismissed the overall movement as “young people [who] are really misguided” and “don’t understand what made America the greatest country in the world.”
He also declared himself “very concerned that they don’t seem to have any real agenda other than causing problems,” before discussing one of the central grievances: student loan debt. Hatch, who voted for the $700 bailout of financial institutions in 2008, ridiculed the notion of the government stepping in on behalf of everyday Americans struggling under the burden of “$807 billion in student loans.”
HATCH: I look at these groups that are outside of Wall Street. All I can say there is, there message seems to be, “we don’t have a clue what we want, but we darn well want you to give it to us now immediately!” (Applause) I’d be the first to stand up for their right to picket, for their right to protest. But I am very concerned that they don’t seem to have any real agenda other than causing problems. Do you know what one of the big issues is? They want to be relieved of the $807 billion in student loans. What about all those thousands of people who have paid off their student loans? They want to be relieved of that, can you imagine? They want all these things I’ve been talking about – that 51% of all households have – and a lot more. They want the federal government to control a lot of our lives. These young people are really misguided and they don’t understand what made America the greatest country in the world. Well I do, and so do you.
Listen to it:
Contrast was striking