Barack or Mitt: Which Way America?

             Richie Rich versus a Man of the People

Barack Tackles the Housing Crisis; What Would Mitt Do?

As the presidential election approaches President Obama is turning up the heat on the Grand Obstructionists Party and forcing the Republicans to take a stand against his proposals to address the economic desperation of millions of Americans.  His speech in Falls Church Virginia yesterday, proposing a government led solution to the housing foreclosure crisis, is his latest challenge.

He has already forced the GOP to take a stand on whether our government should directly address the unemployment crisis by putting forth the “American Jobs Act,” a comprehensive proposal that would rebuild the nation’s infrastructure and create massive employment opportunities as they construct the underpinnings of a new high tech “Green Economy.”

The Republicans who control the purse strings in the House have said a resounding no to this bill; in spite of the fact that it cuts the payroll taxes for 98% of American businesses. It also gives a complete tax holiday on up to 50 million dollars for companies that add workers, and provides a “Returning Heroes” tax cut for companies that hire veterans.  The bill would also prevent the layoff of over a quarter of a million teachers, at a time when we desperately need more teachers.  And that’s just a glimpse of all the critical economic issues this bill addresses.

By blocking its passage and trying to kill it, while vociferously opposing a picayune tax on the rich to fund it, the Republicans have made their contempt for the struggling masses of Americans crystal clear.  Although this fact should have been clear when they opposed the economic stimulus bill.  If there are those who still don’t get it, who remain unclear about which party is fighting for the working class, the President’s proposal to help 10 million beleaguered home owners and the Republican response should leave no doubt.

Although the details of President Obama’s proposal are too complex to fully explicate in this commentary, a few facts will suffice. First off all, the President’s proposal offers a broad refinancing plan that will save the average home owner $3,000 a year; then he proposed a uniform set of rules that borrowers and lenders must play by, with strict disclosure requirements designed to prevent conflicts of interest, and a greatly simplified mortgage contract that anyone can understand.

The President pointed out in his speech that his “Consumer Protection Bureau” – another magnificent gift to the American people – will chastise those who violate the rules the way they did to bring on this crisis. Furthermore the President’s proposal exempts unemployed home owners, whose homes are federally financed through FHA and other government programs, from foreclosure for a year.  Other major banks, including Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae, are following the President’s lead.

To demonstrate the government’s commitment to strong enforcement of the new laws President Obama has created a task force composed of federal and state investigators from the Department of Justice; Housing and Urban Development, and the Securities and Exchange Commission.  These policies will change the nature of the mortgage business, and put the government firmly on the side of the consumer.

Mitt Romney has offered no proposals to address any of these critical issues, and like all Republicans he opposes the President’s initiatives.  This bespeaks a basic difference in approach to the problem by the President and Mitt Romney, the Republican front runner.  And it tells us all we really need to know about where each party stands.  “While government can’t fix the problem on its own, responsible homeowners shouldn’t have to sit and wait for the housing market to hit bottom to get some relief,” says the President.

Mitt Romney, whom we are constantly told is the business wizard we need to save the nation from a Republican induced economic disaster, offers a very different solution.  “But the idea of trying to stop the foreclosure process kept it from occurring, kept the market from bottoming and recovering.  You have to let the market work and let home values recover as a result of that.  Don’t try to stop the foreclosure process.  Let it run its course and hit the bottom.”  This is the same approach Mitt took to toward the auto-industry in his now infamous New York Times Op-Ed piece: “Let Detroit Go Bankrupt.”

The difference between President Obama’s and Romney’s view of the American auto-industry, is that the President wouldn’t cold bloodedly allow a couple of million auto-workers, and other’s in related industries, to be thrown out of work, while Romney said tough shit!  Its thing with the housing crisis; President Obama’s wants to assist homeowners, whose only economic asset is their homes, and Mitt Romney views them as deadbeats who can’t pay their bills and thus should be left to the Darwinian machinations of the capitalists marketplace!

Their diametrically opposed perspectives on these critical issues mark the difference between a community organizer who worked to empower the poor – instead of taking his Harvard Law degree and rushing to a white shoe law firm – and a money grubbing vulture capitalist who is indifferent to the poor.

It is the difference between a Saul Alinsky Radical who fights for the poor, and a latter day Social Darwinist who believes the present distribution of wealth and power is the natural order of things….and only the strong should survive: survival of the fittest.  Like Barack, I want a government that helps the unfit become fit to survive.  It’s not only the Christian thing to do, as he pointed out at the prayer breakfast this morning: it is difference between civilization and barbarism!

 The Choice is Clear!!!

The Faces of Reaction and Progress


Playthell Benjamin

Harlem, New York

Feburary 2, 2012

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