Rep. West: Wall Street Occupiers Are Stalinist "Gangs" Of "Bad People"

October 21, 2011 11:06 am ET — Alan Pyke

About a week after writing that Occupy Wall Street is all about keeping a leash on American ingenuity, Rep. Allen West (R-FL) has outdone himself in an interview with Newsmax. After exonerating "Wall Street greed" from any blame for the financial crisis and declaring the protesters "gangs," West said the movement is just the natural extension of the "Marxist, Stalinist type of policies" that progressives always push.

ASHLEY MARTELLA (HOST): Is Wall Street greed responsible for the high unemployment rate and the economic mess we're in?

WEST: No, it comes back to Washington, D.C. It comes back to the policies thereof. When you go back to 1978 and you look at the Community Reinvestment Act (CRA), when you look at the fact that government repealed the Glass-Steagall act so you then melded together investment and commercial banking, you look at the creation of Fannie and Freddie Mac, and all of the things that we knew were going wrong and yet people on Capitol Hill were the ones that decided they were not going to do anything about it. When you talk about the unemployment rate, it's very simple, we have just hit 1000 days under President Obama. The unemployment rate was 7.8 percent when he took over in 2009. The unemployment rate now is 9.1 percent. [...]

It has nothing to do with Wall Street. It has everything to do with the failed policies coming out of the Obama administration. [...] [T]his progressive movement is really what communists were called back at the turn of the we're starting to really see the face of who liberal progressives are, be it Marxist, Stalinist policies, going back to socialist type of policies, nationalizing production, creating the incredible entitlement class, instead of producing a production class. [...] The one question I would ask the president, if he is embracing this movement, why didn't he embrace the freedom movement in Iran? So I think once again he is throwing his lot in with bad people.


West is correct about Glass-Steagall repeal, though he fails to mention that the bill was called Gramm-Leach-Bliley after its three Republican authors, and that Phil Gramm prevented the regulation of derivatives in another bill. But the rest of West's explanation is 100 percent wrong. Neither the CRA nor Fannie & Freddie caused the crisis, and according to former Federal Reserve Governor Ed Gramlich, there was actually a low default rate on CRA loans — meaning most of the poor American families West is indirectly demonizing here were working hard enough to pay what they owed.

Thread West's multiple claims together and a bizarre thesis comes into focus: Washington's attempt to encourage homeownership (and the availability of credit in general) as a means of upward economic mobility for poor communities "redlined" out of the mortgage market was really part of an effort to turn the United States into a Stalinist collective. And today's protesters aren't angry about the evaporation of economic opportunity, they're a cabal of Nazis, gangsters, and communists looking to perpetuate "the incredible entitlement class" and destroy America.

Yet there is some good news here: West is tacitly acknowledging that the financial crisis is what put us in a deep economic hole (and not only "the failed policies of the Obama administration"). Now if he'll just read up on the facts about that crisis, maybe he'll begin to actually understand the motivations of the Occupiers instead of depicting them as the combined nightmares of Joe McCarthy and Glenn Beck.

UPDATE: West is provably wrong about Obama's attitude towards Iranian demonstrators, as we've shown previously when Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) made a similar claim.