This is a rush transcript from "Journal Editorial Report," October 8, 2011. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.
PAUL GIGOT, HOST: This week on the "Journal Editorial Report," the banker baiters are back. As those Wall Street protests grow, Democrats jump on the band wagon, railing against banks and the fees that the politicians helped create.
Plus, Chris Christie is out. So is Sarah Palin. With the Republican field finally set, we take a closer look at candidates' economic plans. This week, it's Herman Cain and his 999 proposal.
All of that, and how the FDA could cost you your life.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: The protesters are giving voice to a more broad-based frustration about how our financial system works.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GIGOT: Welcome to the "Journal Editorial Report." I'm Paul Gigot.
That was President Obama Thursday when asked about the growing Wall Street protests, now in their third week. A rally in lower Manhattan seemed to be gaining size and momentum. And dozens of sister demonstrations have sprung up in cities across the country.
Just one of the things stoking the protesters anger is Bank of America's plan to charge its debit card customers a $5 monthly fee, a move attacked this week by the president and Senate Democrat Dick Durbin.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. DICK DURBIN, D-ILL.: Bank of America customers, vote with your feet. Get the heck out of that bank.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GIGOT: Joining the panel this week, Wall Street Journal Editorial Board member, Mary Kissel; assistant editorial page editor, James Freeman; and opinionjournal.com editor, James Taranto.
James, let's talk about the protests first. How seriously should we take these as a political movement?
JAMES TARANTO, EDITOR, OPINIONJOURNAL.COM: More serious than I would say I was prepared to take them at the beginning of the week. This started off as your standard-issue left wing protest, your regular assemblage of dopey college students and super annulated (ph) hippies. It was like the nuclear freeze movements of the '80s, the anti-globalizations protests in the '90s, and the anti-war movement of the last decade. But now you see all of these serious political forces on the left joining in. It started with the liberal media, who suffer from what one Washington Post columnist calls Tea Party envy.
They say, oh, we've got our own populous movement now. This is great. Let's embrace these people. Then you started seeing prominent left wing Democrats, including Nancy Pelosi, the minority leader of the House, and this week, also the unions joined in, the public sector unions joined some of these protests. So I wonder if what we're seeing here might not amount to the functional equivalent of a primary challenge to President Obama.
GIGOT: Because they're raging against his policies? But is that it? Or is this really a liberal Tea Party thing?
MARY KISSEL, EDITORIAL BOARD MEMBER: I'm not sure that this is a liberal Tea Party. The Tea Party works through the political system, goes through your elected representatives and has a clear agenda, smaller government, lower taxes. This movement, it's unclear what they want other than it seems to be a general anti-capitalist movement. I think the real danger here is to have political leaders stoking this, expressing sympathy for it. I think you could see these protests get much larger.
JAMES FREEMAN, ASSISTANT EDITORIAL PAGE EDITOR: Well, I think the political danger for the president, as well, is if the people in the street ever figure out exactly what it is they're protesting. The --
GIGOT: Well, don't they want --
FREEMAN: In a general way, they're protesting the banking system.
FREEMAN: The banking system operates under rules created by Barack Obama and the Democrats, when they ran Congress. He signed the Dodd/Frank Act in 2010, covers essentially all of American finance. That's the banking system authored by Barack Obama. While -- he's probably going to have a problem if these people ever figure that out.
He's also going to have a problem with Independent voters, looking at this and saying, wow, embracing this protest, is that really the answer to 9.1 percent unemployment.
GIGOT: It's interesting. what does a Democrats do, say, Chuck Schumer, the New York Senator, who gets enormous campaign contributions from Wall Street, constantly up there asking them for money. And here he has core Democratic supporters railing against his funders. How does he handle that?
TARANTO: I think he probably ends up doing something like what President Obama did this week, which is make some vague statements, paying lip service to the protesters, and not helping them behind closed doors.
KISSEL: Look, I don't -- I think that you're going to see this get bigger because the Democrats have nothing else to run on. President Obama cannot run on his record of the last two years. What is he doing? He's stocking the class-warfare message and going back to his community organizer roots. That's why you see, not just the president, but you see Bernanke and Geithner and others of the administration --
GIGOT: Whoa. Bernanke and Geithner?
KISSEL: Expressing sympathy for the protesters.
GIGOT: The head of the --