The mayor’s criticisms of Occupy Wall Street have grown almost as much as the protests themselves. A week ago, Bloomberg discussed Occupy Wall Street during his weekly radio address by highlighting how entwined the rest of the economy is with Wall Street. This week, when he took to the radio, the mayor tried even less hard to hide his irritation with the swelling movement, and doubled down on the theory that Occupy Wall Street is hurting the ordinary working guy. From the Village Voice:
“Everyone’s got a thing they want to protest, some of which is not realistic,” Bloomberg said. “And if you focus for example on driving the banks out of New York City, you know those are our jobs … You can’t have it both ways: If you want jobs you have to assist companies and give them confidence to go and hire people.”
“The protests that are trying to destroy the jobs of working people in this city aren’t productive,” Bloomberg said in his weekly radio appearance with John Gambling. Taking a swipe at “some of the labor unions participating,” Bloomberg added that “their salaries come from — are paid by — some of the people they’re trying to vilify.”
That resembled a refrain protesters have frequently aimed at the police: “my taxes pay your salary.”
Bloomberg invoked some of the protestors’ own language there — as he’d done the week before.
“The protesters are protesting against people who make $40-50,000 a year and are struggling to make ends meet. That’s the bottom line,” Bloomberg said, presumably meaning service workers on Wall Street, adding that “we all” share blame for taking on too much risk, not just the financial industry.
“And people in this day and age need support for their employers. If the banks don’t go out and make loans we will not come out of our economic problems, we will not have jobs so anything we can do that’s responsible to help the banks do that is what we need.”
The mayor declined to directly answer whether he’d let the protests continue indefinitely (last week the answer was “we’ll see”). “We are trying to deal with this in a way that doesn’t make the problem grow and protects everybody’s rights … we’re trying to let this not ‘play out’ — that isn’t quite the right word — but let them express themselves,” he said, though he didn’t seem quite so “Kumbaya” when it came to the question of police action, which has come under sharp scrutiny over the course of the protests. “The one thing I can tell you for sure,” he said at one point, “is if anybody in the city breaks the law, we will arrest them and turn them over the district attorneys.”
It’s not exactly a warm and fuzzy statement, and Bloomberg’s entreaties for protesters to consider the municipal coffers probably won’t be well-received; no one likes their own rhetoric twisted around and thrown back in their face. He still winds up sounding rather like Mr. Lewbowski. But let’s play a parlor game: What’s a good way for a billionaire mayor — who made his fortune on Wall Street — to respond publicly to a movement like this one? If he were to throw in his lot unabashedly with the protesters, he’d hardly be able to finish the sentence before cries of hypocrisy surrounded him from all sides. Perhaps the best approach would be to say as little as possible — but that’s never been Bloomberg’s strength.