Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) and others questioned Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke on Tuesday about the ongoing "Occupy Wall Street" protest in lower Manhattan.
"Chairman, as you know, there are people demonstrating against Wall Street in New York City and other cities around the country, and I think the perception on the part of these demonstrators and millions of other Americans is that as a result of the greed, the recklessness and the illegal behavior on Wall Street, we were plunged into the horrendous recession that we're in right now," Sanders said at a Joint Economic Committee hearing on the economic outlook.
"Do you agree with that assessment?" he asked Bernanke. "Did Wall Street's greed and recklessness cause this recession, that lead to so many people losing their jobs?"
Bernanke responded that excessive risk taking on Wall Street and the failure of financial regulators "had a lot to do" with the recession.
"You see protests both on the right and the left," said another member of the Joint Economic Committee, Rep. Michael Burgess (R-TX). "The protests you see right now getting the headlines are on the left in New York. What is the protest saying to you? What are you hearing from that activity in New York right now?"
"Well, I would say very generally I think people are quite unhappy with the state of the economy and what's happening," Bernanke said. "They blame, with some justification, the problems in the financial sector for getting us into this mess, and they're dissatisfied with the policy response here in Washington.
"And at some level, I can't blame them," he added. "Certainly 9 percent unemployment and very slow growth is not a very good situation."
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