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February 22, 2009

President Obama’s Housing Plan Will STEADY The Market For All of Us

happy house President Obama proposed a housing plan last Wednesday that will help to start clearing a path that will end the foreclosure crisis we’re in.  It’s not perfect but it’s a GOOD start!

Yes, it will help some people who don’t “deserve” to be helped, just as the bank bailouts have helped Wall Street executives – none of whom deserved to be helped. Let us be reasonable, realistic and rational – there is NO perfect solution to this huge problem.  If you ask 100 of the greatest economic minds to come up with a solution for this crisis you will get 100 different answers that will each have merits and flaws.  

The ninety percent of us who were not naïve or fooled by the smooth-talk and blarney of greedy mortgage brokers under normal circumstances would never be asked to bail out the 10 percent that needs it — but these are not normal times.  If we don’t help those who are destitute right away we will all be pulled into a deep dark hole that none of us will be able to get out of anytime soon.  This is our choice plain and simple; help those who need help or continue to bitch, moan and do nothing and see our economy plunge to depths that will make today seem like the good times. Stopping the cycle of foreclosures is critical and is the only thing that will slow our country’s downward economic spiral and help the markets.

President Obama’s Housing Plan will help people who got plain-vanilla conforming mortgages and who have never fallen seriously behind on their monthly payments. They will most likely qualify to refinance at lower guaranteed interest rates — even if they owe as much as their house is worth.

It will also help people who have subprime mortgages or exotic loans, such as pay-option adjustable rate mortgages.  These folks might qualify to keep their current loans but will have them modified to make the payments more affordable.

The mortgage modifications in the plan include three essential elements that will bring us stability and help homeowners who have one home that they are living in. These mortgage modifications will only apply to the existing loans that have caused all the trouble we’re in.   These modifications will not apply to loans made in the future and will therefore not hurt the mortgage market.

The first element will help homeowners currently at risk of foreclosure. It would provide cash incentives to lenders in exchange for modifying a loan until the borrower can comfortably pay it. Lenders would receive the incentive for modifying the loan before it becomes delinquent.

The second element is for homeowners who are still making their mortgage payments on time but can’t refinance because they don’t have enough equity in their homes and owe more than their homes are worth. If a homeowner’s mortgage is held or guaranteed by Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac (which 2/3 are) the homeowner would be guaranteed a lower interest rate and allowed to refinance.

The third element allows Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to expand their mortgage lending by pledging an additional $200 billion in government capital. Since private lenders are still refusing to make mortgage loans, it makes sense for the government to encourage Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to lend and start the credit wheels rolling again.

The Obama administration is wisely taking advantage of the government’s new ownership of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac by putting the two entities to work for the people of America. 

At the same time the Obama administration is offering aid to responsible homeowners who might be infuriated with the idea of helping “irresponsible” homeowners.  Our fellow citizens who read the fine print and made smart fiscal decisions by purchasing homes they could afford but were whacked by the housing bust will benefit from lower interest rates and other resources. This is the administration’s way of acknowledging that they see and hear the frustration of the masses and will extend a hand with some assistance to the responsible ninety percent.

The very capable and intelligent Shaun Donovan, Secretary of Housing and Urban Development believes that by doing all these things they will be able to stop most of the out of control foreclosure, stop property value from depreciating while simultaneously increasing property value across the nation by approximately $6,000.  This would be great since we’ve only seen housing prices decline these past two year.  Yeah for some growth!

President Obama still has to get some of these vital proposals through Congress. Republicans and financial service lobbyists has already declared a ferocious opposition to the proposal to change the bankruptcy law that would allow judges to modify distressed homeowners’ mortgages.

Now is not the time for selfishness – think of your fellow citizens in places like Nevada, Florida and California where foreclosures have reached a critical mass. In these and other states foreclosed properties are driving down the value of homes in communities, property taxes are not being paid, streets are not be cleaned, garbage not being picked up and teachers, police and fire men are being laid off.

It is predicted that if something isn’t done now, there could be as much as 8 million foreclosures over the next four years.

Americans are ready to move forward and start the healing of America.  Since President Obama announced his plan on Wednesday, mortgage lenders have already reported a dramatic increase in the number of calls from homeowners who want to refinance. LendingTree.com has said that refinancing volume shot up 88 percent over the previous week because of Obama’s plan.

The plan may not be perfect but it is a step in the right direction and will stop the foreclosure roller coaster and help credit to start flowing again.

What’s good for the people is usually not good for politics.  Let us do what’s good for the people and get beyond party politics, principles and philosophies so we can get stability in our financial markets. WE need stability, stability and more stability now.  Let us think more about WE as a nation and less of ME as an individual as WE go through this time of national crisis.

America is still the greatest country in the world, let’s work together and keep it that way!



February 4, 2009

President Obama Plans Salary Limits For Bailout Recipients

Obama Commerce Secretary  Most Divinity Schools/Seminaries do not accept Pell Grants (financial aid from the federal government available to students) because they do not want the government to tell them how to administrate their schools.  The thinking is, if you don’t want government interference in your business, then manage your business well so you don’t have to beg the government for money.

Like the rest of us, President Obama has been watching the way that  banks who received ‘exceptional assistance’ have been conducting business as usual — as if they they’re in the black with a trillion dollar profit.  There has been no apparent curbing of spending even though they borrowed billions from us the United States taxpayers.  Even while they lay off employees the executives of these banks are spending money flippantly and frivolously.

President Obama has decided that since the executives are not being responsible and seemingly cannot manage themselves he will intervene and implement a series of pay curbs including a strict new limit on executive salaries at these institutions.  Under the new rules, companies like Citigroup that received “exceptional assistance” from taxpayers may not pay any top executive more than $500,000 a year.  Any additional compensation would have to be in restricted stocks that cannot be sold until the companies pay back the money they borrowed from the government.

In addition all banks receiving help will face tougher restrictions, including requirements that shareholders have a say on compensation, and will face tougher disclosure rules on items such as aviation services, holiday parties and golden parachutes.

Institutions that are financially healthy — and receive more generally available government funds — can waive these requirements if their shareholders vote to do so, according to the plan.

“The American people understand we’ve got a big hole that we’ve got to dig ourselves out of, but they don’t like the idea that people are digging a bigger hole even as they’re being asked to fill it up,” Obama said.

Congress also was furious, with Senator Claire McCaskill, (D-Missouri) introduced legislation to cap compensation at bailed-out companies to no more than the salary of the U.S. president.

President Obama’s annual salary is $400,000.

“We have a bunch of idiots on Wall Street that are kicking sand in the face of the American taxpayer,” an enraged McCaskill said on the floor of the Senate on Friday. “They don’t get it. These people are idiots. You can’t use taxpayer money to pay out $18 billion in bonuses.”

Yeah!  Our government is standing up for its citizens!

September 23, 2008

$700 Billion: Bail-out, Evasion or Trickery?

  Seven hundred billion dollars – that’s ‘11’ zeros.  It’s almost incomprehensible to me.  I had to write it out – $700,000,000,000. This is the amount of money George Dubya wants us to entrust Henry Paulson with.

This so called “bailout” of America’s failed financial institutions seems to me to be the greatest heist in America ever; this will be the greatest highway robbery in broad daylight, in the middle of day with everyone watching with our eyes wide open.

How can anyone with any common sense give $700,000,000,000 of American citizens’ money; of middle class American’s money to ONE person to ‘handle’ with virtually no oversight?

According to a draft of the bailout proposal, all decisions by Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson, “are non-reviewable and committed to agency discretion, and may not be reviewed by any court of law or any administrative agency.” What the heck!!!

I don’t care if anyone tells me that I have to trust the ‘experts’.  This just doesn’t sound right to me.  Not at all.  I don’t trust this solution. Not me, not today, not tomorrow. No way.

One thing that bothers me is that the very executives who destroyed their companies are going to get to put a share of hundreds of billions in their ‘pockets’. Plus they will get this money practically hassle free. Less hassle than it would take for you or me to get an unemployment check after working years and making a contribution to the system. These CEOs get to evade their responsibilities. That just doesn’t sit right with me.  Not at all.

I am one of those people who believe that this ‘bailout’ has to be inspected and dissected with a fine tooth comb with little or no room no trickery and thievery. There is just way too much of your dollars and my dollars at stake. Accountability and oversight has got to be paramount!  The current proposal only requires one oversight report to Congress every 6 months. What kind of crap is that?  This has to be the worst business decision ever…ever!

Dubya Bush is saying, just give us the money and trust us, we’ll handle it. Yeah, right, just like we trusted him with the WMD and the Iraq war. To quote George W. Bush, “There’s an old saying in Tennessee — I know it’s in Texas, probably in Tennessee — that says, fool me once, shame on — shame on you. Fool me — you can’t get fooled again.”  You get the idea, right?

The Bush administration is urging Congress to quickly stabilize the financial system by temporarily transferring the bad debts of American financial institutions to taxpayers. The proposed plan would give the Treasury Secretary Paulson sole power to manage the funds and the buying and reselling of mortgage debt. “This is something that has to work. I very much believe it will work”, said Paulson.

So we should trust Paulson (who said 2 weeks ago that the economy was strong!) because he simply believes it will work?!  Where are the spreadsheets, economic forecasts, market analyses and scientific formulas?  I want to see credible reports and projections!  I want more than ‘I believe’ from Paulson.

I believe that I am going to come up with one of the most innovative business idea ever and become a billionaire overnight – that’s what I believe.  Will a bank give me a loan based on what I believe???  I think not!


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