President Obama's "Perfect Storm"
By Daniel B. Jeffs, founder DDC
The Times investigation into the costly lack of accountability with the HUD $1 housing plan to help the poor in San Bernardino is indeed a cautionary tale, which is deeply rooted in government's repeated failures of good intentions and the unintended consequences thereof.
One need only review the progressive history of HUD from its creation by the Housing and Urban Development Act of 1965. Then President Johnson's Great Society push for the war on poverty, and the Civil Rights Act of 1968, which included the Fair Housing Act administered by HUD, and exacerbated by the blind expansion of congressional social engineering that followed, all of which led to recessions and the tax-consuming, economy-eating cancers that have metastasized.
President Obama aptly characterized this recession as "different" in his speech at Georgetown University on April 14, 2009. "This recession was not caused by a normal downturn in the business cycle. It was caused by a perfect storm of irresponsibility and poor decision-making that stretched from Wall Street to Washington to Main Street."
However, we must remember one thing: the Obama phenomenon is brewing a more perfect storm, in which the magnificent obsession with government expansion is in fact a malignant deception, which will surely promote so much government fraud, waste and abuse that -- if we let it -- could exact more social, political and economic devastation upon us than we can handle.
Still, this runaway anxiety society may be exactly what is needed for a reckoning from the sleep of ignorance and dependent bliss, to the stark reality of a depression, the self-imposed lost of liberty and the pain of tyranny. An American awakening.
From President Obama's speech at Georgetown University April 14, 2009
"….Now, to understand how we get there, we first need to understand how we got here.
Recessions are not uncommon. Markets and economies naturally ebb and flow, as we've seen many times in our history. But this recession is different. This recession was not caused by a normal downturn in the business cycle. It was caused by a perfect storm of irresponsibility and poor decision-making that stretched from Wall Street to Washington to Main Street.
As has been widely reported, it started in the housing market. During the course of the decade, the formula for buying a house changed: Instead of saving their pennies to buy their dream house, many Americans found that suddenly they could take out loans that by traditional standards their incomes just could not support. Others were tricked into signing these subprime loans by lenders who were trying to make a quick profit. The reason these loans were so readily available was that Wall Street saw big profits to be made. Investment banks would buy and package together these questionable mortgages into securities, arguing that by pooling the mortgages the risks had somehow been reduced. And credit agencies that are supposed to help investors determine the soundness of various investments stamped the securities with their safest rating when they should have been labeled "Buyer Beware."
No one really knew what the actual value of these securities were, no one fully understood what the risks were. But since the housing market was booming and prices were rising, banks and investors just kept buying and selling them, always passing off the risk to someone else for a greater profit without having to take any of the ultimate responsibility. Banks took on more debt than they could handle.
The government-chartered companies Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, whose traditional mandate was to help support traditional mortgages, decided to get in on the action by buying and holding billions of dollars of these securities. AIG, the biggest insurer in the world that had a very traditional insurance business that was very profitable, decided to make profits suddenly by selling billions of dollars of complicated financial instruments that supposedly insured these securities. Everybody was making record profits -- except the wealth created was real only on paper. And as the bubble grew, there was almost no accountability or oversight from anyone in Washington.
Then the housing bubble burst. Home prices fell. People began to default on their subprime mortgages. And the value of all those loans and securities plummeted. Banks and investors couldn't find anyone to buy them. Greed gave way to fear. Investors pulled their money out of the market. Large financial institutions that didn't have enough money on hand to pay off all their obligations collapsed. Other banks held on tight to their money and simply stopped lending.
Now, this is when the crisis spread from Wall Street to Main Street. After all, the ability to get a loan is how you finance the purchase of everything from a home to a car to, as you all know very well, a college education. It's how stores stock their shelves, and farms buy equipment, and businesses make payroll. So when banks stopped lending money, businesses started laying off workers. When laid-off workers had less money to spend, businesses were forced to lay off even more workers. When people couldn't get a car loan, a bad situation at the auto companies became even worse. When people couldn't get home loans, the crisis in the housing market only deepened. Because the infected securities were being traded worldwide and other nations also had weak regulations, this recession soon became global. And when other nations can't afford to buy our goods, it slows our economy even further.
So this is the situation, the downward spiral that we confronted on the day that we took office. So our most urgent task has been to clear away the wreckage, repair the immediate damage to the economy, and do everything we can to prevent a larger collapse. And since the problems we face are all working off each other to feed a vicious economic downturn, we've had no choice but to attack all fronts of our economic crisis simultaneously. The first step was to fight a severe shortage of demand in the economy. So the Federal Reserve did this by dramatically lowering interest rates last year in order to boost investment. My administration and Congress boosted demand by passing the largest recovery plan in our nation's history. It's a plan that's already in the process of saving or creating 3.5 million jobs over the next two years. It's putting money directly into people's pockets with a tax cut for 95 percent of working families that's now showing up in paychecks across America. And to cushion the blow of this recession, we also provided extended unemployment benefits and continued health care coverage to Americans who've lost their jobs through no fault of their own. Now, you will recall that some argued this recovery plan is a case of irresponsible government spending, that it's somehow to blame for our long-term deficit projections, and that the federal government should be cutting instead of increasing spending right now. So I want to tackle this argument head on.
To begin with, economists on both the left and the right agree that the last thing a government should do in the middle of a recession is to cut back on spending. You see, when this recession began, many families sat around the kitchen table and tried to figure out where they could cut back. And so have many businesses. And this is a completely reasonable and understandable reaction. But if everybody -- if everybody -- if every family in America, if every business in America cuts back all at once, then no one is spending any money, which means there are no customers, which means there are more layoffs, which means the economy gets even worse. That's why the government has to step in and temporarily boost spending in order to stimulate demand. That's exactly what we're doing right now.
Second, I absolutely agree that our long-term deficit is a major problem that we have to fix. But the fact is that this recovery plan represents only a tiny fraction of that long-term deficit. As I'll discuss in a moment, the key to dealing with our long-term deficit and our national debt is to get a handle on out-of-control health care costs -- not to stand idly by as the economy goes into free fall.
So the recovery plan has been the first step in confronting this economic crisis. The second step has been to heal our financial system so that credit is once again flowing to the businesses and families who rely on it….."