While Mitt Romney is a ham-handed plutocrat stupid enough to shrill his hatred for the underclass in an unsecured fund-raiser, Barack Obama is more deftly circumspect in his disdain for poor people. Instead of placing the blame for the housing mess squarely where it belongs -- on the too big to fail banks and the complicity of his own administration and past administrations -- Obama spreads the guilt around like thin centrist gruel, ascribing it equally to fraud conspirators and banking thieves, lenders, borrowers and property flippers -- carefully dog-whistling to his backers his wink-nod belief in those largely mythical hordes of greedy, low/no-income, speculating McMansion addicts who went on an orgiastic binge of home-buying. Never once does he mention that even qualified buyers often had subprime adjustable rate loans foisted on them. Never once does he mention the Clinton-era enactment of Gramm-Leach-Bliley, which turned banks into unregulated gambling casinos. Mr. Clinton, after all, just gave the current president a huge bump in the polls. So let's just shove that little inconvenient factoid down the memory hole, shall we?
From Obama's address:
Millions of Americans who did the right and responsible thing – who shopped for a home, secured a mortgage they could afford, and made their payments on time – were badly hurt by the irresponsible actions of others. By lenders who sold loans to families who couldn’t afford them – and buyers who knew they couldn’t afford them. By speculators who were looking to make a quick buck. And by banks that packaged and sold those risky mortgages for phony profits.
When the party stopped, and the housing bubble burst, it pushed our entire economy into a historic recession – and left middle-class families holding the bag.
He then went on to the tout that sham of a Mortgage Fraud Task Force headed up by New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, with its bank-friendly settlement that did not include one single criminal subpoena. And since "Congress" (including his own party)has selfishly gone on vacation, it's all their fault for not acting on his tepid legislation to help "responsible" homeowners in his voting demographic to save a few grand on their mortgage payments.
The latest Obama address is simply a classier, toned-down version of the infamous Rick Santelli rant of 2009 before the Chicago Board of Trade. That's the speech that blamed unqualified (read minority) people for the whole meltdown and launched the corporate Tea Party movement. Only a small fraction of the billions of dollars in Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) money set aside for struggling homeowners was ever disbursed by the Obama Administration in the wake of pushback against the White House. Neil Barofsky, the inspector general of TARP, subsequently revealed that HAMP was simply a ploy to "foam the runway" to benefit the banks, spreading out foreclosures more evenly so as not to endanger Wall Street's bottom line.
From the transcript of the Santelli rant(or more likely, plant):
How many of you people want to pay for your neighbors' mortgage that has an extra bathroom and can't pay their bills? Raise their hand. (traders boo; Santelli turns around to face CNBC camera) President Obama, are you listening? (Trader goes to Santelli's mike and suggests "how about we all stop paying our mortgage? It's a moral hazard.")
Santelli's words must have never stopped ringing in our conservative president's head. Obama seems never to miss an opportunity to slam the victims of predatory lenders in the same breath that he pretends to slap the wrists of predatory criminal banksters. He implies that the subprime borrowers are sub-"middle class". He subtly uses the typical right wing ploy of pitting the lazy Takers against the hard-working Makers, when the real war is of the top .01% against the rest of us. It seems that the Occupy-inspired theme of gross wealth inequality no longer holds much attraction for the current occupant of the Oval Office. After all, he is pretty much running unopposed. The only mystery is why he is still only ahead by a relatively few percentage points.
This ongoing "blame the victim" mentality has a racist as well as classist origin. The prime targets of predatory subprime mortgage lending have been poor black and Hispanic people -- the "irresponsible" demographic of the president's self-serving phony centrist radio address.
President Obama himself is a master of the false equivalence he and his supporters so passionately declaim. In his centrist world, Goldman Sachs and the poor slobs who signed fraudulent documents on the dotted line and were kicked to the curb when the payment came due are equally guilty complicit partners in crime. The only blameless players reside in the increasingly dwindling monied burbs -- those fine folks who never lost a job, never missed a mortgage payment, never had to declare bankruptcy because of an illness or uninsured emergency room visit.
Obama is setting the stage for the Age of Austerity, in which unnecessary sacrifice is foisted upon the poor, and the rich may temporarily have to forgo a tax loophole or two to make everything seem even-steven. This is what our president means by a fair shot at a fair share, and everybody playing by the same rules.