Michael Bloomberg, a man who is running for president on a campaign platform of I’m Very Wealthy, released his plan to reform the financial sector on Tuesday. The Bloomberg campaign’s own website promised that “Mike will reform Wall Street and put the financial system to work for every American.” CNBC suggested it echoed the “platforms of some of his more liberal Democratic rivals.”
But let’s not forget how much Bloomberg, a man who made his fortune in and off the financial sector, railed against the last big push to reform our financial system less than a decade ago.
In 2011, as Occupy Wall Street protestors occupied Lower Manhattan’s Zuccotti Park, the then-New York City mayor declared that it was wrong for the protestors to target banks. “It was not the banks that created the mortgage crisis. It was, plain and simple, Congress who forced everybody to go and give mortgages to people who were on the cusp,” Bloomberg incorrectly stated. He also claimed that protestors were trying to “take the jobs away from people working in this city,” by criticizing the financial sector. "If the jobs they are trying to get rid of in this city—the people that work in finance, which is a big part of our economy—go away, we're not going to have any money to pay our municipal employees or clean our parks or anything else,” Bloomberg said.
Did you partake in Occupy Wall Street or work for then-Mayor Bloomberg at the time? We’d love to hear from you. Email firstname.lastname@example.org .
Bloomberg also cast bankers simply as those who were making “$40–50,000 a year and are struggling to make ends meet,” and that “people in this day and age need support for their employers.” (The New York comptroller’s office later determined that the average compensation for New York City bankers was $362,950 in 2011.) Sounds like a man who we can certainly believe will reform Wall Street!
And then came the raid. In November 2011, Bloomberg infamously ordered the New York police to evict protestors at 1 am, tearing up tents and blocking reporters. Here’s how the scene was described in the Washington Post at the time:
Once inside the park, the police tore up the tents, and apparently ruined the belongings of the protesters who had turned the park into a makeshift city over the last two months. (Among other ruined items were 5000 books from the park’s library, the protesters’ Twitter feed points out.) Those who resisted were met with batons and pepper spray, reports Mother Jones’s Josh Harkinson; among others, New York City Council member Ydanis Rodriguez was arrested and bleeding from the head, according to another council member. Protesters were to be allowed back into the park, but the NYPD insisted they’d have to make do without tents, tarps or any other equipment essential to the occupation.
Bloomberg then ignored a court order that required protestors to be readmitted to the park. According to The Guardian, the mayor defended the media blackout of the raid by arguing it was to “protect members of the press.”
As Alex Pareene pointed out at The New Republic, this type of polite authoritarianism is part and parcel of Bloomberg’s regular governing style. Whatever Bloomberg might say or promise during the primary, his actual track record shows that in practice, he’s brutally unafraid to represent his own class interests over the rest of the country.