Back to Basics – Politics

Posted on September 9, 2009. Filed under: Uncategorized |

by Caren Z. Turner

We are closing in on one year of the Obama Presidency and we have to ask– “What has changed for the better?”

To our view, each of the very many issues the Administration has attempted to tackle has been done right by half. There is still a great deal of work, including in some cases, a dramatic change in direction that must be accomplished if the success we all long for is to be achieved.

We strongly urge Congress and the Administration to go back basics. That is to say – Fix the Basics– create jobs and stop foreclosures. Let’s first make sure we put people back to work and keep them in their homes, before proceeding forward with lofty, visionary changes.

I liken the current situation America finds itself in to the White House’s laudable and much ballyhooed plan for an organic garden. Fresh vegetables and fruit grown on the South Lawn of the White House to be consumed by the First Family and their guests, what could be better?

Turns out the Administration’s organic dreams were foiled by toxic soil. It seems a previous team of White House gardeners used sewage sludge, full of lead, heavy metals and other pollutants, to fertilize the lawn at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. The toxic soil means that the White House garden and the produce it yields can never be considered organic.

The White House’s organic garden is symbolic of where the Administration is as a whole.

Any organic farmer, indeed, any weekend gardener knows that it all starts with the dirt. Whether adding lime, eliminating clay, etc.– nothing worthwhile can be grown without first securing the basics: the quality and stability of the soil under your feet.

Likewise, in our American society, visionary changes–including the “greening” of America and several aspects of healthcare reform– while commendable, cannot be accomplished successfully if the very ground under the feet of the American public is not secured.

We urge the Administration to recognize that the ground on which the American public stands is NOT stable and is NOT secure. Our homes are threatened. Our jobs are threatened. Sadly, for millions both have already been lost.

If this Administration is to succeed, we strongly recommend that it reevaluate its modus operandi, and do so quickly.

Congress and the Administration must wake up and act. They must triage the troubles that impact the very foundation of the nation.

While admittedly broken, health care is NOT the priority. The foreclosure and employment crises must take precedent over the reform of health care.

Granted, the Administration has taken a number of steps to slow the pace of foreclosures. In March the President announced his $75 billion housing recovery plan aimed at helping as many of 9 million Americans stay in their homes by restructuring their home loans.

However, just 9 percent of eligible homeowners, who are delinquent have gotten a mortgage modification under the federal program.

And yes, the goal of creating 5 million new “green” jobs set by the Administration is admirable, but at present 26 million Americans can’t find full-time work.

We have to do better and we have to do better NOW.

We recommend the Congress and the Administration review each of the programs they have commenced and continue working at them until they are successfully completed. Do it right or don’t do it at all.

Isn’t nice that the banks were given $787 billion to keep them afloat, but what did the American public get? We still cannot refinance our homes, or get a small business loan, even though federal money was earmarked for those specific purposes.

Case in point – the $255 million America’s Recovery Capital (ARC) loan program created by Congress as part of the stimulus package. The bill requires the SBA to help small businesses get through the recession by providing zero-interest, no-fee loans of up to $35,000. What’s more, the loans are 100 percent federally guaranteed so the banks making loans have no risk.

The problem is that many of the same banks bailed out by American taxpayers aren’t participating in the program and others are doing so half-heartedly. Fewer that 2,000 loans have been made so far. Bankers in some large states are dragging their feet: California has approved only 37 loans; New York, 33; and, Florida, 65. During that same time span 285 loans were issued in Minnesota and another 220 in Wisconsin.

Because the Administration never required the banks to lend the bailout money the banks simply took the $700 billion and hoarded it. The result: foreclosures continue to rise; small businesses are going under; and joblessness is increasing unabated.

While some look at the stock market’s improvement as the barometer of a recovering economy, the up tick on Wall Street isn’t being felt on Main Street.

Most Americans are still hurting.

As Ye Sow, So Shall Ye Reap.

Losing jobs and homes is creating a toxic soil that threatens the future of our society. Until unemployment and the foreclosure crisis is thoroughly addressed and fixed, nothing will truly flourish.

Just like the contaminated White House garden–a society without roots firmly planted in the secure, healthy soil of full employment and home ownership, can never hope to support the flowering of visionary aspirations and lofty goals.

For so long as most Americans are standing on economic shaky ground and facing the danger of losing the very soil beneath our factories, our offices, and our homes, we will not have the capacity to fix our other pressing problems, even with the best of intentions.


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2 Responses to “Back to Basics – Politics”

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I agree.

Congress and the President needs to listen to the people they represent. Yes, we are concerned about health care but, at least for the moment, we are more concerned about our jobs, our homes and the economy. That should be the number one priority right now.

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