An Important Message about 2012 for both President Obama & Mitt Romney
I realize youâ€™re both very busy and were it not important, I would not presume to take up any of your time, or the time of your advisers, but it has long since become clear that neither of your campaigns understands several of the key dynamics that will have a major impact on which one of you wins in November of 2012.
The dynamics Iâ€™m referring to have to do with the foreclosure crisis, a topic which, for a variety of reasons, some shared and others divergent, neither of you wants to talk much about, but it is the topic that will continue to destabilize either of your chances to win the upcoming election.
That this is the case, should not be hard to acceptâ€¦ in 2012, the road to the White House runs directly through the states hardest hit by the foreclosure crisis, most notably Ohio and Florida, but also Michigan, Nevada, and North Carolina, et al.Â For the Obama campaign, I would say that this issue alone would normally be enough to cost you the election, but as luck would have it, youâ€™re the frying pan running against the fire.
In 2008, the Obama campaign won the election by roughly eight million votes. Â By this coming November, we will have lost roughly that same number of homes to foreclosure.Â If you assume two voters per household, then there are 16 million that donâ€™t want to vote for you. Â I didnâ€™t say they wouldn’t vote for you, the alternative being voting for fire, but rest assured, they donâ€™t want to vote for you.
There are another four million plus in foreclosure or seriously delinquent today, so at two per household, that’s another eight million, bringing the total to 24 million. Â And forecasts by Amherst Securities show 9.5 million foreclosures coming soon to a neighborhood near you, so soon enough there will be about the same number of people directly affected by foreclosure than voted in the presidential election in 2008.
The point is that the number of Americans seriously harmed by the mishandling of the foreclosure crisis are now more than enough to sway a national election.
These people are not merely upset about losing a home to foreclosure, they are enraged over having been misled, deceived and entirely abandoned, as the Obama administration ultimately stood by and did essentially nothing while their servicer tortured them as they lost their homes to foreclosure.
And, I can assure you that my description is not hyperbole to those in this unfortunate group.Â In fact, many would call it understatement.
Itâ€™s interesting to realize that neither of you wants to bring up the situation related to housing and foreclosures in your campaigning. Â I say that because, although itâ€™s easy to see why the Obama campaign would avoid the topic, but one would think that the Romney campaign would be exploiting such an obvious weakness of the opposition to garner support.Â And yet, the Romney campaign doesnâ€™t want to talk about housing and foreclosures any more than the Obama campaign does.
In fact, Mr. Romney, this past year while campaigning in Nevada of all places, quite shockingly, you decided to answer a question about foreclosures by saying that whatâ€™s needed is a faster foreclosure processâ€¦ in Nevadaâ€¦ a faster foreclosure process.
Basically, after being asked the only question certain to have tens of thousands of Nevada voters paying close attention, your response gave the Obama Administration credit for programs that successfully delayed or prevented some significant number of foreclosures in a state thatâ€™s been devastated by foreclosures more so than any other.
For a moment, all I could think was that you were trying to help Obama win Nevada in 2012, but Iâ€™ve since realized that its far more likely that you were caught off guard and didnâ€™t know what else to say at that moment, because since then youâ€™ve adopted the Obama campaignâ€™s approach to the issue: Pretend it doesnâ€™t exist.
Iâ€™m quite sure both of your campaigns have people monitoring the Internet, so you must know how ridiculous the absence of any meaningful discussion on foreclosures appears to millions of voters.Â Therefore, it must be that youâ€™re both so deathly afraid of the Tea Partiers and Rick Santelli that your campaign managers figure mums the word is your only viable option.
Well, since I see no other explanation for your mutual silence on the subject, I thought Iâ€™d offer both of you some insight and advice about your respective 2012 campaigns.Â I may not know enough to be President of the United States, but I know the people of the foreclosure crisis as well as anyone couldâ€¦ to use the hip vernacular of a few years backâ€¦ theyâ€™re my peeps.
First, to President Obama:
Okay, I understand youâ€™ll probably win staying silent on the issue.
For one thing, Mitt Romney isnâ€™t likely to mention the subject of foreclosures either, and if he does, itâ€™s fairly likely that heâ€™ll say something stupid, as he did in Nevada.
Secondly, your campaign strategists probably figure that by next fall, if asked, youâ€™ll be able to tout your administration accomplishments related to housing and foreclosures, which, however inadequate they may be, are still heads and shoulders better than anything the GOP has suggested since 2008.Â So, as I said, youâ€™ll be running on the premise that people will vote frying pan when the alternative is fire.
Thirdly, Iâ€™m sure your people have realized that a significant number of the independents youâ€™ve lost AND many of the Republicans who are disgusted with the economic situation have moved into the Ron Paul camp, which may very well give the Paul campaign a double digit election outcome, and lock in a loss for Romney in a replay of Clinton-Bush-Perot, 1992.Â (Clinton-43%, Bush-37.5%, Perot-18.9%.)
Lastly, itâ€™s no secret that the Republicans in both the House and Senate, since day one of your presidency, have been practicing a bizarre sort of obstructionist politics, voting in unison against anything youâ€™ve proposed, as our nation-on-fire has continued to burn, economically speaking.
In fact, the only thing youâ€™ve done that Republicans have not opposed was the pumping of untold trillions into TBTF financial institutions.Â To everything else, theyâ€™ve very clearly said â€śNO,â€ť and bringing up this track record will make it near impossible for anyone concerned about foreclosures to vote for anyone on that side of the aisle.
It all makes sense, and could be rightâ€¦ but youâ€™ll be biting your nails right into the wee hours of election night, because youâ€™ll remember what happened in the 2010 mid-terms when far too many voting Democrats, furious with you for letting them down, closed the curtains in their voting booths and chose Republican candidates out of spite.
If you want to ensure your second term, stop listening to Tim Geithnerâ€™s Moral Hazard Band, and anyone whoâ€™s ever met Larry Summers, and follow your instincts.
I know you have them because I heard you talking about how you and Michelle only paid off your student loans less than a decade ago.Â I also heard your speech announcing the settlement between state attorneys general and the five largest mortgage servicers, and you said we need to do more to help Americans losing homes due to no fault of their ownâ€¦ and how we â€śhave each othersâ€™ backsâ€ť in this country.
Those were smart things to say, but stopping there wonâ€™t carry you to November, you need to seal the deal and start telling the American people the truthâ€¦ that we need to stop pretending that 20 million Americans all became irresponsible at the same time, buying homes they couldnâ€™t afford, blah, blah, blah.
Our financial crisis and economic downturn took out all the investment banks on Wall Street, caused over a thousand smaller banks to become insolvent so far, crippled small and large businesses alike leading to unemployment that will take a decade to improve if weâ€™re lucky, and threw the EU into financial chaos that may still bring an end to the union and its currency.Â Thatâ€™s the truth, so stop pandering to the Tea Party types, theyâ€™re short on facts, long on crazyâ€¦ and wonâ€™t be voting for you in 2012 anyway.
What the American people want is an economy that doesnâ€™t feel like the United States of Quicksand.Â Surely by now youâ€™ve started to suspect that you could double down on pumping money into the banks over the next four years and still no recovery would come.
How many quantitative easings do we need to try before we diversify our approach to include Americaâ€™s middle classâ€¦ QE-1 didnâ€™t do itâ€¦ QE-2 didnâ€™t eitherâ€¦ and donâ€™t even get me started on the â€śoperation twistâ€ť nonsense, which is Bernankeâ€™s only idea to spark consumption by getting credit flowing to consumers.Â Should we wait until weâ€™ve tried QE-7â€¦ QE-12â€¦ QE-18â€¦ should we try â€śtwistingâ€ť the decade away?
Surely you can see that the desired results of these programs havenâ€™t occurred yet, and even if you want to think they will someday, isnâ€™t it time to add a few other strategies to the mix?Â Interest rates are simply not the problem, Mr. President, theyâ€™re low and theyâ€™ve been lowâ€¦ so what and who cares?
Remember last June, Mr. President?Â It was Bernankeâ€™s second post-FOMC press conference.Â The Fed Chief admitted that he had no idea what was causing the economyâ€™s so-called â€śsoft patch,â€ť he only knew that it would persist.Â The FOMC statement blamed everything outside the United Statesâ€¦ something about Japan along with rising food and oil prices.Â He was humble, candid, and relieved that QE 1&2 had reduced the threat of deflation for the moment anyway.Â But as to what wasnâ€™t happening in our economy, he didnâ€™t have a clue.
And yet, youâ€™re doing nothing but bemoaning the fact that Republicans wonâ€™t pass your jobs bill even on a stand-alone basis, and following the Fed Chiefâ€™s admitted unknowing lead?
Our housing market is either double or triple dipping, whichever youâ€™d prefer, but recovering?Â Not even close.Â Truth be told, itâ€™s been in the same downward slide for almost six years, with slight interruptions caused by a fleeting combination of hype, tax incentives and the transformation of the FHA into the new sub-prime, which is now reporting defaults approaching 20 percent on loans made SINCE 2009.
I understand that American consumers are being forced to deleverage, just as the banks will have to do soon.Â I understand that the credit markets are broken for the foreseeable future and that thereâ€™s nothing you can do about that.Â And I understand that Europeâ€™s economy will ultimately come crashing down into ours, causing all sorts of pain and anguish from coast-to-coast.Â These things we should hold as being self-evident.
But, if you allow the housing markets to continue to fall, and foreclosures to continue to rise, you will be setting our country up to be hit hard while itâ€™s too far down, and there will be no recovering from such a blow at such a time.Â Your legacy will be such that youâ€™ll wish Mitt Romney had won in 2012.
Youâ€™ve got the opening, or will certainly have it very soonâ€¦ everything is getting worse, and it wonâ€™t be long before the Bureau of Economic Analysis will be reluctantly announcing the â€śRâ€ť word once again.Â At that point you can reinvent yourselfâ€¦ and do it differently this timeâ€¦ the way you wanted to last time.
Be the man of the peopleâ€¦ inspire hope and deliver change.Â The only real moral hazards you have to worry about are named Geithner and DeMarco.
Take them out, save the economic day, and go down in history a hero. Â This time do more than anyone says is neededâ€¦ remind everyone of their obvious propensity for underdoing everythingâ€¦ and if itâ€™s the Republicans that cause you to fail, then let us see you go down fighting.
Now, to presumed GOP candidate, Mitt Romneyâ€¦
Okay, so I realize that youâ€™re not the right-wing nutcase you pretended to be during the primariesâ€¦ fair enough.Â And I also realize that youâ€™ll try to move to the center, without alienating the crazy factor that considers itself the GOPâ€™s base.
But, if youâ€™re banking, pun intended, on Reagan-esque lofty speeches and loudly criticizing the Obama Administrationâ€™s first term over things like spending and health care, your creating a situation in which your shot at winning the election in 2012 will depend purely on the vote-against-Obama-turnoutâ€¦ assuming that no one in Florida or Ohio brings up foreclosures, that is.
In other words, you could be anyone runningâ€¦ youâ€™re doing essentially nothing to help yourself win.Â Election night will be something like watching the results of a poll come in where the choices were â€śAnonymous Republican v. Obama.â€ťÂ
If you donâ€™t accept that, just consider the two clowns you just beat in the primaries.Â Santorum, who described condoms as a â€śgrievous moral wrong,â€ť and said that â€śhuge moral failingsâ€ť were causing our economic problemsâ€¦ and good old Newt Gingrich, who attempted to make a serious case for repealing child labor laws in order to put 9 year olds from poor families to work cleaning schools after schoolâ€¦ oh, and who promised a â€śmoon base by 2020.â€ťÂ And those two were the GOPâ€™s saner candidatesâ€¦ the even crazier contenders left the stage earlier.
Oh yeahâ€¦ and then thereâ€™s Mittâ€¦ the former Governor of Massachusetts and a Republican centrist with a JD/MBA from Harvard who was the first in the nation to reform health care into something near-universal in his home stateâ€¦ who turned around Bain & Company as its CEO, who led the committee that made the 2002 Winter Olympics a financial successâ€¦ and whose father who was CEO of American Motors, Governor of Michigan, and U.S. Secretary of Housing and Urban Development.
Mr. Romney, you managed to beat out a perennial alter boy obsessed with anything of a sexual nature, and an ex-Speaker of the House who was forced by his own party to resign after countless ethics violations, including misleading the House Ethics Committee and ultimately earning the distinction of being the first Speaker to be disciplined, (the vote was 395 to 28), for an ethics violation including being fined $300,000.
Okay, so congratulationsâ€¦ I suppose.
So, your advisors are obviously telling you that slamming Obama is the ticket to the Oval Office, and largely because the president has failed to mitigate the damage being caused by the foreclosure crisis, they could be rightâ€¦ but probably arenâ€™t.
Exclusively slamming Obama in order to win in 2012 would be a strategy much more likely succeed if, in addition to ignoring foreclosures as an issue, you didnâ€™t also have to run on a GOP-friendly platform that favors cutting such things as food stamps, child tax credits and Social Service Block Grants, while carrying states like Florida and Ohio that continue to be destroyed by the economic collapse and specifically the foreclosure crisis.
In other words, youâ€™ll be trying to win a national election on a platform that only the one percentâ€¦ or others in the insensitive classâ€¦ could love.
Social Services Block Grant (SSBG) funds enable States to provide things like daycare for children or adults, protective services for children or adults, special services to persons with disabilities, health-related services, foster care for children, substance abuse, housing, home-delivered mealsâ€¦ you knowâ€¦ luxuries.
Oh, and what are you worth, by the wayâ€¦ a quarter of a billion and change?Â And youâ€™re going to cut food stamps?Â Screw the working poor and long-term unemployed? Â Youâ€™ll redefine â€śfat catâ€ť and make Herbert Hoover look like FDR in your first 100 days in office if you do what the Republicans expect you to do.
Weâ€™ve got 46.4 million people on food stamps in this country.Â One in four children are eating based on food stamps right now in any given month.Â The average monthly benefit comes out to be about $8 per household, per dayâ€¦ roughly $2.67 per day for food assuming a three person household.Â Thatâ€™s the program that House Budget Committee Chairman, Republican Paul Ryan wants to cut, calling it a â€ścomfortable hammockâ€ť instead of a â€śsafety net.â€ť
(By the way, Ryan and his Republican cohorts have helped me as a writer by providing me with a much better understanding of when itâ€™s most appropriate to use the word â€śasshole,â€ť and for that I suppose I should thank them.)
In Florida alone, there are 3.29 million people on food stamps as of this year, a number thatâ€™s doubled since 2008, although the dollar value of the benefits has nearly tripled to $5.15 billion as more families have been forced to seek assistance from the program.Â Under the Republican budget proposal, estimates show that 234,000 Florida households will lose their food stamps benefit
So, youâ€™re basically planning on winning Florida by ignoring foreclosures, reducing the availability of food, and saying how bad Obama has been?Â Itâ€™s possible, I guessâ€¦ but Iâ€™d stop way short of considering it a sure thing, thatâ€™s for sure.
I also have to say that running this way is insane, because even if you somehow pulled it off and won, youâ€™d spend the next four years either doing the GOPâ€™s bidding while watching civil unrest be redefined American style, or youâ€™d resist such asinine policies and soon find yourself abandoned by your own party, shunned by Wall Street, branded a liberalâ€¦ and all but certain to be back home in four years.
You look pretty darn good for your age now, but under those conditions, youâ€™d start your presidency looking like Michael Douglas and head back home four years later looking like Kirk Douglas.
Mr. Romney, I donâ€™t believe youâ€™re not a smart guyâ€¦ you have to be a smart guy.Â So, can you honestly tell me that tax cuts for business and the recently branded â€śjob creators,â€ť combined with reduced government spending is anything but sheer idiocy during times like these?
You must know that American companies have oodles of cash and Treasury securities in their coffers, but no one is going to invest and expand when there is no demand for what theyâ€™d produce. Â American consumers both canâ€™t and wonâ€™t spend more than they are todayâ€¦ and consumer spending today is anemic compared to what it was in letâ€™s say 2005.
American consumers have seen their access to credit slashed and their home equity stripped to essentially nothing.Â And, as if that werenâ€™t enough, inflation and higher oil and food prices are sure to wipe out what little discretionary spending has survived the collapse.
Our first quarter GDP number should say it all, not only because at 2.2 percent it came in below expectations, but also because had it been calculated using the Consumer Price Index, instead of whatever B.S. number was used, the actual GDP was ZERO.Â Yes, indeedâ€¦ now thatâ€™s what I call a recovery, right Mitt?
Hereâ€™s the dealâ€¦ if you want to win the presidential election this fall, you need to stop pretending foreclosures are helping someone, because clearly they are not, and as long as you have nothing to say on the subject, you might as well stop concerning yourself with figuring out how many ways you can call Obama a socialist, because he may be the frying pan, but youâ€™ll be the fire.
What you really need to do is figure out how to become the transformational leader that leads his party to success, instead of one who allows his partyâ€™s offensive ideologies to drag our nation further towards utter ruin.
President Obama has already taken care of those at the top.Â If you want to ensure a victory for the Romney campaign this November, you need to start at the bottom.
Thatâ€™s all I have to say about thatâ€¦
Okay, thatâ€™s all I wanted to say. Â Iâ€™m pretty darn sure that youâ€™ll both ignore what Iâ€™ve said and proceed with your what-you-ignore-canâ€™t-hurt-you strategy.Â So, good luck this summer on the campaign trail.
And, Mr. Presidentâ€¦ we all know that four years ago you were dealt the lousiest of hands, but once your second term beginsâ€¦ know that itâ€™s all on you, sir.