During a White House news conference Thursday, President Barack Obama said that the Occupy Wall Street demonstrations were proof people wanted to see tighter financial regulations.
"Obviously, I've heard of it," the President said of the protests. "I've seen it on television. I think it expresses the frustrations that the American people feel that we had the biggest financial crisis since the Great Depression, huge collateral damage all throughout the country, all across Main Street and yet, you're still seeing some of the same folks who acted irresponsibly trying to fight efforts to crack down on abusive practices that got us into this problem in the first place."
"So yes, I think people are frustrated and, you know, the protesters are giving voice to a more broad based frustration about how or financial system works... [F]or us to have a healthy financial system, that requires that banks and other financial institutions compete on the basis of the best service and the best products and the best price and it can't be competing on the basis of hidden fees, deceptive practices, or, you know, derivative cocktails that nobody understands and that expose the entire economy to enormous risks. That's what Dodd-Frank was designed to do."
"Do you think that Occupy Wall Street has a potential to be like the tea party movement going forward?" The New York Times' Jackie Calmes asked.
"What I think is that the American people understand that not everybody has been following the rules, that Wall Street is an example of that, that folks who are working hard every single day, getting up, going to the job, loyal to their companies, that that used to be the essence of the American dream," Obama explained. "That's how you got ahead, the old fashioned way. And these days a lot of folks who are doing the right thing aren't rewarded and a lot of folks who aren't doing the right thing are rewarded.
"And that's going to express itself politically in 2012 and beyond until people feel like, once again, we're getting back to some old fashioned values in which if you're a banker, then you are making your money by making prudent loans to businesses and individuals to build plants and equipment and hire workers that are creating goods and products, that are building the economy and benefiting everybody."