Over the last couple of weeks, I’ve been traveling around the country and talking with folks about my blueprint for an economy built to last. It’s a blueprint that focuses on restoring the things we’ve always done best. Our strengths. American manufacturing. American energy. The skills and education of American workers.
Built to Last replaced the losing Winning the Future, in case you hadn't noticed. And now it's got the added gimmick of a blueprint, because I just love that idea. I got it from the Republican side of the aisle from friends like Paul Ryan and his Mediscare blueprint. It makes me seem like an architect who builds things. Like a Ford truck..... but really more like a commercial for a Ford truck. Rugged, leaderly, tough, nationalistic. Home Sweet Homeland.
And most importantly, American values like fairness and responsibility. We know what happened when we strayed from those values over the past decade – especially when it comes to our housing market. Lenders sold loans to families who couldn’t afford them. Banks packaged those mortgages up and traded them for phony profits. It drove up prices and created an unsustainable bubble that burst – and left millions of families who did everything right in a world of hurt.
Let us never forget the families who did everything wrong. It is important that I not alienate the conservative-leaning voters of the battleground states here. A lot of folks still buy into the canard born in the CNBC rant of Rick Santelli, post meltdown in 2009, that welfare queens and unemployed Mexicans getting liar loans caused the whole crisis. So I am going to compromise, wallow in a little phony centrism, and mendaciously give that canard just a wee tad of presidential cred. Families who bought houses they couldn't afford are just as venal as the banksters. Families who got regular mortgages they could afford were hurt by irresponsible, subprime poor families. You think only Republicans can create phony wedge issues? Hah!
It was wrong. The housing crisis has been the single biggest drag on our recovery from the recession. It has kept millions of families in debt and unable to spend, and it has left hundreds of thousands of construction workers out of a job.
I won't mention the inconvenient truth that unfettered capitalism and unregulated banks caused the housing crisis, and are still a drag on the economy. Reinstating Glass-Steagall is just too hard. Supporting Elizabeth Warren as chief of the Consumer Protection agency she created? Just too hard. Construction workers are unemployed because the hoarding banks won't give out construction loans. Even though I keep politely asking.
But there’s something even more important at stake. I’ve been saying this is a make-or-break moment for the middle class. And the housing crisis struck right at the heart of what it means to be middle-class in this country: owning a home. Raising our kids. Building our dreams.
I am not bothering with you lesser people who rent their homes, either from choice or from necessity. Or, God forbid, folks who live in their relatives' basements or shelters.Let's define our terms. "Middle class" as defined by my campaign strategists means The Monied Burbs: employed professional people who can actually afford to get married, buy a house, and have 2.3 kids. And a dog. Maybe not a purebred Portuguese Water Dog like Bo, but at least a LabraDoodle or a Golden Retriever.
Right now, there are more than 10 million homeowners in this country who, because of a decline in home prices that is no fault of their own, owe more on their mortgages than their homes are worth. Now, it is wrong for anyone to suggest that the only option for struggling, responsible homeowners is to sit and wait for the housing market to hit bottom. I don’t accept that. None of us should.
I am not mentioning that 10 million out of a 330 million population is rather a small demographic. And that by relentlessly harping on fault, I am signalling my utter disdain for irresponsible losers. Hardworking Heartland independents pride themselves on the work ethic. Let's face it: I am in campaign mode here. The monied suburbanites saddled with million-dollar homes now worth maybe eight hundred thou are the ones whose votes and donations and phone-banking I am counting on. Responsible: code for employed professional.
That’s why we launched a plan a couple years ago that’s helped nearly one million responsible homeowners refinance their mortgages and save an average of $300 on their payments each month. Now, I’ll be the first to admit it didn’t help as many folks as we’d hoped. But that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t keep trying.Yeah, it didn't work because our hearts just were not in it at the time. It was not an election year. Plus, it would have been too hard on the Wall Street banks. Since my Administration never tried to penalize the banks for failing to help folks, they really had no incentive to go along, did they?
That’s why I’m sending Congress a plan that will give every responsible homeowner the chance to save about $3,000 a year on their mortgages by refinancing at historically low rates. No more red tape. No more endless forms. And a small fee on the largest financial institutions will make sure it doesn’t add a dime to the deficit.A small fee on the largest financial institutions... vague, unspecified, but it sounds good in a campaign speech. And I just can't help myself! Even though my handlers told me to curtail it on the austerity theme, I just had to get the D Word (deficit) in here somehow. Please don't forget that my plan will help only a select few mega-homeowners who pay their bills on time. If you own a modest home and have been paying late, you're out of luck. And if you're out on the street, you won't vote anyway. You are so screwed, in too many ways to count. So you don't count.
Ad nauseum, ad infinitum! I keep repeating myself, just so I can hammer home my point. My campaign is geared toward well-to-do people who are not financially strapped, and never have to rob Peter to pay Paul. I am not interested helping people who chronically have their cable or electricity shut off. If you don't pay your bills on time, you are just not responsible. If you're hurting, it's really kind of your fault. But since I'm a Democrat (or so I am told) I just can't be as blatant about it as my friends in the other wing of the Uniparty.
I want to be clear: this plan will not help folks who bought a house they couldn’t afford and then walked away from it. It won’t help folks who bought multiple houses just to turn around and sell them. What this plan will do is help millions of responsible homeowners who make their payments every month, but who, until now, couldn’t refinance because their home values kept dropping or they got wrapped up in too much red tape.
But here’s the catch. In order to lower mortgage payments for millions of Americans, we need Congress to act. They’re the ones who have to pass this plan. And as anyone who has followed the news in the last six months can tell you, getting Congress to do anything these days is not an easy job.
That’s why I’m going to keep up the pressure on Congress to do the right thing. But I also need your help. I need your voice. I need everyone who agrees with this plan to get on the phone, send an email, tweet, pay a visit, and remind your representatives in Washington who they work for. Tell them to pass this plan. Tell them to help more families keep their homes, and more neighborhoods stay vibrant and whole.
In order for me to help this small segment of well-to-do Americans who own a lot of house, I need you to join my campaign even if you merely aspire to homeownership at this particular time. Are you in? Call Congress (Dems or Pubs, they're all alike) and send me your email address. Don't let Falls Church Va or Westchester County go the way of central Florida! Keep the lifestyle liberals and their possessions strong and confident, vibrant and whole.
The truth is, it will take time for our housing market to recover. It will take time for our economy to fully bounce back. But there are steps we can take, right now, to move this country forward. That’s what I promise to do as your President, and I hope Members of Congress will join me.
Pay no attention to what Paul Krugman wrote today in The New York Times, about everything not being o.k. and how it's wrong for governments to keep saying austerity is important. Forget about the cloud of economic depression on the silver lining of a few thousand more minimum wage jobs for which I take total and unabashed credit. Forget that I listened to Tim Geithner and didn't break up the banks and didn't demand adequate stimulus. If you will just call Congress and Tweet your hearts out, we can move forward just like my MSNBC offshoot tells you to. It will give you the illusion of doing something. It will once again suck you into the Cult of My Personality.