Fmr. Obama Adviser: Focus on U.S. Inequality in Election-Year SOTU Has Occupy Wall Street’s Imprint
In his last State of the Union speech before the November election, President Obama defended his record addressing the financial crisis and called for greater economic fairness. He warned that Wall Street would no longer be allowed to play by its own set of rules. But the bulk of the speech dealt with the economy. We get reaction from Jared Bernstein, former chief economist and economic adviser to Vice President Joe Biden and past member of President Obama’s economic team. Bernstein says that Occupy Wall Street “had a lot to do with” Obama’s message of economic fairness: “These issues, I mean, they’re called populist now. Frankly, I think they’re just basic fairness. I don’t know why it’s populist to argue that middle-class people should pay a fair tax rate and one that’s certainly no higher than that paid by millionaires and billionaires, or for that matter, that economic growth should not be a spectator sport for people in the middle class. These ideas haven’t broken through in the way that Occupy Wall Street did in a matter of months. So I give them a ton of credit.”
“He Says One Thing and Does Another”: Ralph Nader Responds to Obama’s State of the Union Address
Responding to President Obama’s State of the Union address, longtime consumer advocate and former presidential candidate Ralph Nader says Obama’s criticism of income inequality and Wall Street excess fail to live up to his record in office. “Obama says one thing and does another,” Nader says. “Where has he been for over three years? He’s had the Justice Department. There are existing laws that could prosecute and convict Wall Street crooks. He hasn’t sent more than one or two to jail.” On foreign policy, Nader says, “I think his lawless militarism, that started the speech and ended the speech, was truly astonishing. Obama was very committed to projecting the American empire, in Obama terms.”
Egypt: Sharif Abdel Kouddous Reports from Cairo as Crowds Mark 1 Year of Revolution in Tahrir Square
As tens of thousands of Egyptians gather in Tahrir Square to mark the first anniversary of the start of the revolution that ended Hosni Mubarak’s three-decade reign, we go to Cairo to speak with Democracy Now! correspondent Sharif Abdel Kouddous, who has reported on the popular uprising since it began. “What happened on January 25th was really an uprising that was 10 years in the making, a growing resistance movement to the Mubarak regime, to a regime that was characterized by a sprawling police apparatus that engaged in quashing of dissent and torture, a paralyzed body politic, and rampant corruption,” Kouddous says. “People speak about the barrier of fear being broken, but I really think it was a lack of hope. And that was the gift that Tunisia gave to Egypt: it was that here is the dream you can achieve, and here’s the hope that you can change, if you take to the streets.”
“In Tahrir Square”: HBO Doc on Egypt’s Revolution Through Eyes of Democracy Now!’s Sharif Kouddous
Democracy Now! correspondent Sharif Abdel Kouddous is the central character in the new HBO documentary airing tonight, “In Tahrir Square: 18 Days of Egypt’s Unfinished Revolution.” The film chronicles the uprising though the reporting of Kouddous, and it looks at what the protest meant for his uncle, Mohamed Abdel Quddoos, a longtime Egyptian dissident who was arrested dozens of times by the Mubarak regime. We’re joined by Kouddous in Cairo, as well as the team behind the film: Jon Alpert and Matthew O’Neill of Downtown Community Television; and independent filmmaker Jacquie Soohen of Big Noise Films.