Housing Policy? Obama Leaves It To The Bankers

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

President Obama is pulling the same stunt with the housing crisis as he did with health care: packing his public policy events with corporate operatives while excluding the grassroots and progressives. "Only the bankers, the stock speculators and the academics that are paid by the rich, qualify as stakeholders at Obama's housing conference."

Obama Leaves Housing Policy to the Bankers

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

"No one that could plausibly be described as representing community, consumer, or tenant groups was invited."

It would be a great day if President Obama called a real national summit on housing.  The administration held a half-day conference purporting to be about housing this week, at the Treasury Department, but it was really a bankers' conference, with people like National Urban League president Marc Morial and a bunch of corporate-friendly academics thrown in for show. No one that could plausibly be described as representing community, consumer, or tenant groups was invited. But, of course, Wells Fargo, a bank that devastated whole Black neighborhoods from coast to coast, was there, as was fellow corporate criminal Bank of America.  There was even an economist from Moody's, one of the stock ratings companies that vouched for trillions in toxic securities, before the whole house of cards came tumbling down. These are the kinds of people that are invited to make public policy by the Obama administration.

A U.S. housing official at the conference said it provided "an opportunity to engage stakeholders and experts with broad knowledge and many perspectives." Apparently, communities groups, consumers and tenants - the people that actually live in the nation's housing stock - are not considered to be "stakeholders" by this administration. Only the bankers, the stock speculators and the academics that are paid by the rich, qualify as stakeholders at Obama's housing conference. Only they are deemed to have the "broad knowledge and many perspectives" necessary to make public policy.

In his opening remarks to the gatheirng, Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner did not once utter the words "tenants" or "renters" - as if people that pay rent do not count for anything in the housing equation.

"Foreclosures have been above 300,000 every month for the last 17 months in a row."

No one was there to represent the millions of families that have been foreclosed on by the president's friends at Wells Fargo and Bank of America. Foreclosures have been above 300,000 every month for the last 17 months in a row, with no let-up in sight.

Obama is rigging the housing discussion in exactly the same way he rigged the debate over health care, packing the event with corporate executives and corporate-designated think tankers and totally excluding everyone that might not join the corporate consensus. Just as the drug and insurance companies were the only voices heard at Obama's health care summits, so it is only finance capital that talks at his housing discussion. Obama's modus operandi is little different from when the Bush-Cheney regime allowed the oil, coal and nuclear companies to write national energy policy. The only difference is, Bush was denounced for running a rich man's government, while Obama gets a pass. This special dispensation encourages Obama to complete the privatizing mission begun by Republicans.  In league with oligarchs like billionaire Mayor Michael Bloomberg, the Obama administration caused the sale of 13 New York public housing complexes to the bankers at Citigroup. His vision for public housing is to deliver it to the banks. His vision for the millions of foreclosed homeowners is to make sure their bankers are not harmed. This is an administration of the bankers, by the bankers, and for the bankers. A private, and privatizing, affair.

For Black Agenda Radio, I'm Glen Ford. On the web, go to www.BlackAgendaReport.com.

BAR executive editor Glen Ford can be contacted at [email protected].


No way!

50% of the people shown in the article's picture are droopy-drawered, ne'er-do-wells. Why should any of my hard-earned money go toward the keep of such obvious losers? Better to starve them out of circulation.

Solutions make too much sense to implement, will lacking

If there's anything that is apparent in today's political/media environment is that Americans are the most petulant, ignorant lot.

Here's a simple solution to the housing crisis:

Isn't it a fact that the US taxpayers bailed out the financial institutions that are holding the bulk of not only the traditional mortgages or mortgaged-backed securities, but also the toxic derivatives and other ponzi-type investment instruments?

Isn't it a fact that there is a "shadow housing inventory'" that the Banksters are willfully keeping foreclosed homes or homes that should be foreclosed on from the market in an attempt to falsely inflate their assets, their balance sheets, their capital requirements, the FDIC requirements? (the US government is aiding and abetting in this regard). Isn't it also a fact that the failure of the "shadow inventory" to reach the market is impeding the overall national economic recovery?


Isn't it a fact that today's workforce and work structure requires flexibility, mobility, requires a better and more affordable inventory of rental housing? Richard Florida has argued as much in his famous tome, "the Rise of the Creative Class."


Therefore, if the US citizens have subsidized mortgages so that banksters don't "fail," if the banksters are holding inventory to inflate prices and balance sheets, if the demands of the "new economy" translates into more and better quality and affordable rental housing? Then why are we not matching A to B? You don't need a Ph.D. from the Harvard School of Urban Planning to figure this out, you simply need vision and will.

But will is something amiss in this country and waning everyday. The banksters are clawing to their wealth, inflating their assets and earnings, Adding insult to injury, they paid themselves record bonuses after the meltdown and bailout. Record bonuses after they convinced the ignoramuses in Congress and the White House (and the citizenry) that the sky was falling, that Western Civilization was about to collapse unless you give us ($23 trillion).


There is amble and sufficient housing available, it should be cheaper than it's current inflated/bubble prices, (the government allowed the banksters to avoid "marking to market", i.e. setting real values). "Released" inventory that would drive down prices, make housing more affordable is being withheld from the market. In addition, the new work place will is more transient less stable. There was an insightful article in either the WaPo or the NY Times a week or two ago that talked about how the 30 year mortgage is obsolete because of workplace insecurity and transitory residential patterns. Do you need an MBA from Yale to figure this out? It' doesn't rake a rocket scientist; common sense is in short supply.

Texas Tim, if only you could direct the same ire at Wall Street and Congressional hucksters that you direct at poor people living on Section 8. Too bad, the hucksters know they can get you and the Tea Party ilk riled up about the "ne'er do wells" while they dry fuck you at high noon, in broad daylight, and make off with the biggest haul in US history. Never mind the thieves who continue to jack credit card rates and terms and pay themselves bonuses with our money, let's fuck with the little guy who can't buy politicians or hire an army of lobbyists and otherwise rape the planet as it pleases.


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