Thom's blog - Wednesday December 1st, 2010

You need to know this. Many incoming Republican freshman members - as well as old guard figures within the party - are promising to deliver on their threat to shut down the government. That is - despite the devastating effects it could have on - not only our economy – but the financial stability of the entire world. If Republicans choose not to increase the debt ceiling early next year – a move supported by the Tea Party and an increasing number of GOP lawmakers – including the second most powerful member of the caucus – Eric Cantor – then the government will indeed shut down. The last time Republicans shut the government down - back in 1995 and 1996 – it cost taxpayers $800 million. So what are the consequences if the Republicans do it again? The Center for American Progress released a report on this issue. First – over 40% of the government will stop working. That means no Social Security payments – no Medicare coverage – no unemployment insurance - no funding for our troops in combat overseas – and no homeland security. Sound like a place you want to be? Second – defaulting on our national debt could cause a run on our Treasury bonds. In other words – all the countries that we owe many to – like China – could immediately ask for their money back. It would be like a run on the banks – but instead – a run on the US economy. On top of that – the credit worthiness of our country would plummet - leading to higher borrowing costs and guess what – a larger deficit and national debt. Finally – the government is responsible for about a fifth of the spending in our economy. If that money is suddenly sucked out – then we might as well brace ourselves for the second Great Depression. There you have it – the Republicans plan to fix our economy.


writerofwrongs's picture
writerofwrongs 12 years 26 weeks ago

Thom, all the GOP cares about is rewarding their corporate donors and wealthy supporters. There is no attempt to conceal this fact. Shame on all the stupid sheeple who voted these people in !

So, what will Obama and the dems do about this ? My guess is nothing. They need to grow a pair.

nanatea's picture
nanatea 12 years 26 weeks ago

Like the Patricians of Rome, the Grandees of 16th-17th century Spain, or the Romanovs and Mandarins of the 19th century the elite always believe that they will not suffer from societal breakdown when it occurs. Then the process begins all over again.

The story of history is that they suffer the most when that explosion occurs. Part of the reasoning of our founders was to set up a system where that sort of instability would be less likely to develop. Sadly they forgot the patience of the greedy and self-serving.

Kreativekkj's picture
Kreativekkj 12 years 26 weeks ago

I just finished reading Naomi Klein's book, the Shock Doctrine. I think the GOP is willing to put a halt to the US, or the world for that matter. This will give them their opportunity to put into law all the things they have been floating for years. Do away with Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid and Unemployment payments, public education and on and on. Will the Dems let them get away with it? Will they actually help them? I am not feeling very optimistic at this point.

Thom, could you have Naomi back on your show to bring up-to-date with what she has discovered since her book has been published.

gurjeet 12 years 26 weeks ago

Thom, the more I read and listen to what GOP is intending to do in this country...............I am saddened.............I am appalled to learn that the right winger's propaganda has so strongly overtaken general public that they don't see they are harming themselves ........that is why they have brought back the very plunderers and robber barons back in the driving seat!...............

Saje W's picture
Saje W 12 years 26 weeks ago

Maybe we should consider reciprocal action. If they shut the government down, we call a general worker's strike in reprisal. Think THAT would get their attention?

Namaimo's picture
Namaimo 12 years 26 weeks ago

I would love it if Thom would interview Naomi Klein!!

That said, the Republicans would self-destruct if they shut the U.S. Government down, again. This time the rest of the world is awake and aware that we are being run by NUTS. Europeans are asking if we are "insane".

I blame Rupert Murdoch and his faux populism, and the MIC-bought MSM and CPB/NPR/PBS universe. Reading the Washington Post every morning makes my blood boil. Does it annoy you, too, Thom, now that you are among us?

Namaimo's picture
Namaimo 12 years 26 weeks ago

I'll be there, Saje. Sounds fair to me.

rjd2798's picture
rjd2798 12 years 26 weeks ago

I worry about a workers strike, or a shutdown of the government. The rich live in gated communities, with walls and the ability to arm their guards. My picket fence won't stop the hordes of unemployed. There is no attempt to hide the fact that they want to lower the population of the world. The poor will not go after the rich they will attack the middle class because we have more than them. The rich will then kill the unwashed masses.

readsome5's picture
readsome5 12 years 26 weeks ago

“A Thanksgiving Letter to President Obama ”

Dear Mr. President:

As we approach another Thanksgiving, I find myself looking back over the last 12 months, more so now that I’m older. No matter how bad things may seem; there are still reasons to be thankful. I’m thankful for good health, my family and friends and that we still have a roof over our heads, although barely. Like many Americans, I don’t have a job but we still have a little Social Security coming in, although it’s barely enough to keep us out of the poorhouse and off the streets. I’m thankful I don’t live in Haiti but am even more thankful there are folks who have volunteered to go down there to help those poor people recover. And I’m thankful I live in a country (I still somehow believe) that no matter how opposed our views, we can still come together to solve our enormous problems. The list of those problems is long and getting longer as I write this but I still think true Americans can overcome even the most partisan divides.

I’m a lifelong progressive bleeding heart liberal. I dropped out of high school to find work and take financial pressure off my family. I earned my GED in the service. I spent 3 years in the U.S. Army away from my family during the Viet-Nam Conflict. I would have preferred spending that time in college but we couldn’t afford the tuition. I went to school on the G.I. Bill after my service. I was a member of a dozen or more trade unions and survived a half dozen or more manufacturing plant closings. I was the victim of a predatory mortgage lender and my family lost our home and entire life savings. I was forced to file bankruptcy in a futile attempt to save that home. We were homeless for many months at a time after being forcibly evicted from the home I helped build with my own hands. My credit was ruined to a point where I still can’t use my Veterans benefits to by a home. I’m now trying to survive on Social Security. Through hard work and determination, my parents and my own family have always been comfortably rooted in the middle class but like many American families today, we’re now struggling to survive. I believe I can offer you a unique perspective concerning America’s problems and maybe a few solutions.

On February 22, 2009, shortly after your inauguration, I wrote to you with some ideas I thought might help. At the time, I felt the most important issue crippling our economy was the precipitous loss of good paying jobs. And of course that hasn’t changed. The first three paragraphs in that letter were:

I’m not sure if I should congratulate you on your historic election and uplifting campaign or send you my condolences. You have been saddled with an imploding economy and skyrocketing deficit. I believe most Americans will give you time to begin to turn this catastrophic economic mess around but as you know, it could take a decade or more. As you know, it won’t be easy or painless but I’m trying to be mindful of the resilience and creativity of the American people and your seemingly unflappable grace and determination under fire. You will need every ounce of energy and guile you can muster because no matter how far you reach out to your detractors, there are vast numbers of extreme conservatives working around the clock, in a concerted effort to cause you and consequently our country to fail.

I believe many Americans don’t realize just how bad our economic situation has become. I fear we’re on the verge of another great depression. In some respects, I believe our economy is as bad as the great depression and in some ways worse because many of the same abuses we see today caused the last depression; and because of the worst consequence of globalization, the enormous loss of good jobs, our recovery will be much more difficult and protracted. I felt that during our last recession, we were entering a very long and deep recession and potential depression. But the meteoric rise in the housing sector forestalled the inevitable collapse of an economy relying too heavily on consumer spending and an exponential use of credit. Unfortunately, we can’t depend on the housing sector to help turn this around because that sector will not recover until we somehow create living wages for the bottom two thirds of American workers. It was not just the lending and investment sectors that were a house of cards, but also an unsustainable economy based on more than 70% retail spending and a skeleton of a viable manufacturing sector. Housing prices at the height of the bubble were based on unrealistic and fraudulent values partly inflated by brokers, lenders and underwriters in order to generate higher upfront fees and commissions. These tactics coincided with the stagnation of middle-class wages began in the 1970’s and the consequential influx of a second household member (usually housewives) into the workforce. These inflated home values were not based on values relevant to traditional head of household wages and a historic ratio to apartment rental rates but on a housing bubble fueled by greed and duel wage families. In spite of the latest stimulus, I believe home prices will fall at least another 25 or 30% before they stabilize in relationship to current average wages. The collapse of the housing and lending sectors were not the sole cause of the current economic crisis but symptoms of deeper fundamental problems, all relevant to our progressively bankrupt middle class. I know you and the democratic congress understand the three most important things required to rebuild our middle class, and consequently the American economy, are 1) Jobs, 2) Better Jobs and 3) Sustainable Better Jobs.

I hope you don’t think I’m too presumptuous by writing. I know you have employed many very capable advisors but I watched your speech before the business executives and you stated that you would be receptive to any suggestions they had and that your office door would always be open. The seriousness of our economic situation compels me to offer my own personal and unique Midwest perspective on some of the problems you and our country face, opinions probably similar to those that would be espoused by your grandparents. My experiences over the last 45 years, and especially the last 15 years, relate to every issue and serious problem you will have to address during your first term. These include jobs and the loss of our manufacturing sector, banking and lending, home foreclosures, bankruptcy, health care, social security, the American automobile industry, our system of justice, judicial selections, the environment, labor unions and veteran’s issues. I think that my suggestions may help the stimulus passed by congress, be more effective.

Mr. President, as you stated in your recent post election news conference, the Dems got shellacked. Actually, I believe it was the beleaguered American middle class who again got shellacked. The Midterms were unquestionably a big step backwards. You realize that much of the blame belongs to you because your administration failed to fully explain its achievements and goals. You told Jon Stewart, “We have done things that people don’t even know about.” I know there was a lot on your plate when you took office but in light of the right’s unrelenting opposition to your initiatives, there’s just no excuse for the failure to communicate the merits of the Democrats many accomplishments to the American electorate. It’s a shame that the acknowledgement of a deed well done has become as important as the deed itself.

Had the Republicans been in power, they certainly would have made sure the American public knew of any achievements they claimed (as in “Mission Accomplished”). As a matter of fact, they even attempt to take credit for the accomplishments of others and also try to pass off their own failures onto the Dems (i.e. the enormous national debt caused by the war in Iraq and the Bush tax cuts for wealthy taxpayers).

Many media outlets, especially MSNBC, The Nation, Mother Jones, Slate, the Huffington Post and others did a credible job of trying to explain the Democrat’s accomplishments; but 75% of the country doesn’t watch or read those outlets. The only member of your administration that even attempted to toot your horn was Joe Biden. Mr. President, as you now realize, that failed responsibility lies squarely on you. Before the election, Rachel Maddow, Keith Oberman and Ed Schultz of MSNBC, many in the print media, and progressive radio talk show hosts like Thom Hartmann, Norman Goldman and again Ed Schultz did a very good job of presenting your administrations accomplishments, in spite of the Right’s fanatical opposition and efforts to diminish and obfuscate your successes. But their explanations were far too little and much too late; and again, most conservatives, Fox News listeners and tea party types just don’t listen to them. They take whatever Fox, Limbaugh, Hannity and Beck dole out as pure gospel.

The Rights scorched earth midterm campaign was not just a case of tough politics but a conspiracy to destroy you personally and consequently the Democratic Party. They spent many 100’s of million’s of dollars. And they would have spent billions if necessary. They could care less of the consequences to our country or for most Americans, as long as their rich benefactors and corporate interests are placated. It appears that you now feel you have to move to the right and capitulate to the Right’s opposition to the progressive change agenda you ran on and were elected on. But you must remember that the Blue dog and conservative democrats were creamed in this election. Progressive House Democrats lost only 3 seats while blue dogs lost 30. And most of those losses were in very conservative districts.

America’s middle class suffered the most from that campaign.

The perilous state of our economy and the plight of America's middle class calls for drastic action. Every week or every other week, you should have a “fireside chat” on the major networks, where you explain directly to the public what you have accomplished and are yet trying to accomplish. And while you’re explaining the merits of the many bills that the U. S. House passed (and then died in the Senate) or the bills signed into law, you should be sitting or standing in front of large charts showing the many accomplishments of your administration. For each bill passed in the house and which languished in the Senate, and for each bill signed into law, you should state the benefits to average Americans and also list the members of Congress that opposed those bills and of course their feeble justifications for voting against their fellow Americans. You have been good at reminding voters that the left and right must work together to have any hope of solving our enormous problems. Therefore, I believe you should, on a much more personal level (as FDR did with his “fireside chats”), enlist all Americans in a common purpose struggle to solve our problems. You must re-instill our middle class’s hopes for a better future for all of us, and not just the top 20%. And let those standing in your way suffer the consequences.

It appears you’re now willing to compromise on extending the tax cuts for the richest Americans (which will cost $700 billion dollars over 10 years). Again, to progressives like myself, that sounds like you’re refusing to hold to your principles and promises. I’m sure you’ve read the same statistics that I have concerning the great and growing income inequality in America. Nicholas D. Kristof’s New York Times article “Our Banana Republic,” reemphasizes this stark disparity. “The richest 1 percent of Americans now take home almost 24% of income, up from almost 9% in 1976.” “CEO’s of the largest American companies earned an average of 42 times as much as the average worker in 1980, but 531 times as much in 2001.” “Perhaps the most astounding statistic is this: From 1980 to 2005, more than four-fifths of the total increase in American incomes went to the richest 1 percent.” The richest 0.1% of taxpayers would get a tax cut of $61,000 from President Obama. They would get $370,000 from Republicans, according to the nonpartisan Tax Policy Center. And that provides only a modest economic stimulus, because the rich are less likely to spend their tax savings.” Mr. Kristof also refers to Timothy Noah (with Catherine Mulbrandon) who just kicked off an excellent 10 part series in Slate “The United States of Inequality,” which claims “the United States now arguably has a more unequal distribution of wealth than traditional banana republics like Nicaragua, Venezuela and Guyana.” And in Paul Krugman’s book “The Conscience of a Liberal”, he describes this “Great Divergence.”

I suppose you believe you may have to raise the ceiling for the extension of tax cuts to $500,000 or more but you know you can only go so far. If America had the surplus of good paying jobs we had in the 60’s and 70’s, we would not even be discussing tax cuts to stimulate our permanently moribund economy. And I’m sure the 15 million Americans who are unemployed and the 40 million or so who are underemployed would love nothing better than to be able to pay taxes and contribute to our government’s expenses, if only they had a decent paying job. Unfortunately, 77% of Americans today live from paycheck to paycheck and are one minor setback away from living in their car or under a bridge.

You’ve probably read the Salon article in the Huffington Post “Millionaires to Obama: Tax Us” from the “Patriotic Millionaires for Fiscal Strength”. Forty or so concerned millionaires have asked that you not extend the tax-cuts for those earning over 1 million dollars. I think most Americans would agree with that. You’ve probably also read the Rachel Rose Hartman Associated Press article “40 Billionaires Pledge to Donate Half Their Wealth.” “Forty wealthy families and individuals have joined Microsoft Co-Founder Bill Gates (with Melinda Gates) and Warren Buffett in a pledge to give half their wealth to charity. Six weeks after launching a campaign to get other billionaires to donate most of their fortune, the Chairman and CEO of Berkshire Hathaway Inc. released the first list Wednesday of people who have signed what he and Gates call the “giving pledge”. Buffet decided in 2006 to give 99% of his fortune to charity. Gates and Buffett estimate their effort could generate $600 billion in charitable giving.”

What these true Americans have in common is the patriotic belief that we are all in this human struggle together. Conservatives, independents and liberals; rich or poor; blessed or beleaguered; young or old; healthy or sick, Ph.D.’s or high school drop-outs; the descendants of native Americans and pilgrims or recent immigrants; people of all genders, races, religions or sexual orientations, all subject to the same social, economic and environmental challenges and calamities, and all needing to work together so as not to perish.

But try telling that to these newly elected Republicans. We’ve been told they will quickly attempt to re-litigate the Health Care Bill or at least try to de-fund it, even though 47 % of polled American’s believe the bill was necessary or needed to go even further. Even if the Republican aren’t able to substantially change that bill, they certainly will waste precious time that should be spent on more important issues. Their main goal now is to keep the Democrats from accomplishing further meaningful change or reform. I’m sure you probably realize that any efforts to create jobs, has to be predicated on solving the health care crisis. I’m sure that when you talk to corporate executives and business owners about creating jobs, the first thing they bring up is the untenable and unpredictable increases in their health care benefit costs. Their ability to compete globally begins with the skyrocketing costs (as much as $14,000) of each employee’s health care. It’s the most legitimate excuse they use for not creating jobs in this country. Most of the countries we compete with have universal health care. But again, you failed to explain to voters, the necessity of solving those health care problems in order to create jobs. Our only hope lies with your ability to frame the success of the Democrats Health Care reform as a first step in creating living wage jobs.

I’m sure you’ve heard about one of the incoming Republican congressmen who complained that he had to wait 28 days before his taxpayer paid health insurance plan started. At every job I worked, you had to wait at least 90 days to complete a probationary period before you received health insurance coverage.

As reported in the “Inquisitr:” “Incoming Republican Congressman Andy Harris showed a predictable lack of understanding of the very legislation he ran on the platform against, complaining at a congressional orientation session about gaps. Annoyingly, Harris was outraged that he was expected to wait a much shorter than standard 28 days before his employer health insurance kicked in (show of hands, who here has ever gotten health coverage in less than 90 days, when lucky enough to get it at all?) Without a hint of irony, the anti “Obamacare” Harris whined that there should be some kind of government provision so people could opt-in to this sort of thing. He stood and asked the two ladies who were answering questions why it had to take so long, what he would do without 28 days of health care, said a congressional staffer who saw the exchange. Harris then asked if he could purchase insurance from the government to cover the gap, added the aide who was struck by the similarity to Harris’s request and the public option he denounced as a gateway to socialized medicine. Showing a lack of ignorance regarding the realities of health insurance coverage for the average American, Harris petulantly decried the plan as the only one he’s seen that doesn’t provide coverage from the first day of employment. Currently, nearly 60 million Americans lack health insurance in any form.”

Mr. President, if a U.S. Congressmen who just finished a campaign and is supposed to but doesn’t understand the realities of health care, how is the average American who probably doesn’t even read the newspaper supposed to understand. During one of your “fire side chats,” I believe you should ask each one of these congressmen and women opposed to the Health Care Bill, to sign a waiver giving up their taxpayer paid medical benefits. Another important jobs consideration must be to finally address a fair trade agenda.

Mr. President, you’ve stated you realize all those good paying manufacturing jobs are not coming back; at least in my lifetime. You’re absolutely right. Unless the price of oil gets permanently back to over $100 a barrel and a gallon of gasoline back up over $4.00, those 42,000 manufacturing plants lost during the last 30 years are not returning. The costs of importing goods from half way around the world does not account for the true cost of the fuel used for transportation. Those realistic costs should and must be fairly included in the total cost of off shoring jobs. The U.S. government now subsides, through security and military intervention around the world (including the 2 wars in Iraq and Afghanistan), those unaccounted for expenses. Consequently, it’s the American taxpayer who subsidizes those off shore jobs and the resulting lucrative corporate profits.

Even if we can create 2 or 3 hundred thousand alternative energy green jobs in the next few years, it will take decades to catch up. I believe you clearly have to tie the success of the Health Care Bill, a progressive sustainable Energy Bill and fair trade agreements to any hope of creating jobs. And if millions of living wage jobs are not created, there’s absolutely no hope of reducing our exploding deficit, especially if the tax cuts are extended for the richest Americans. And of course many of the State budgets are in even worse financial shape, which will in turn cause an even greater loss of many of the only decent paying jobs we have left. It already appears that the stimulus was mostly offset by the loss of jobs at the state and local level.

I know it must go against your beliefs, but you must finally realize these so-called Republicans will do little to cooperate with you in any meaningful way. As they stated, they want to assure you are a one-term president. Not that you should to give up on bipartisanship, but I think you have to be realistic. Unless you can convince average American voters, including conservatives and independents that your programs are necessary for the worthy changes you promised and which America’s middle class desperately needs, conservative Congressmen and women and Senators will not be persuaded to cooperate. Their allegiance is not to the American middle class but to the political benefactors who shower them with donations.

Nancy Pelosi has stated she will not quit her leadership in the House. She will continue her fight because she feels she has been very effective; and she has. She is arguably the most accomplished Speaker of the House in the history of our country. Under her leadership, the House passed 420 bills, most of which died in the Senate. It’s a shame Republicans in the Senate have been able to filibuster and railroad the many accomplishments of Speaker Pelosi and those progressive Democrats. The right has unmercifully demonized her since the day she became the Speaker. I believe most of which was plainly done because she was the first women leader. Maybe there is yet some way the Dems can pass some of those stalled bills during the lame duck session. Again, I think frequent direct appeals by you to all Americans could make the difference. I still can’t believe how so many people can vote against their families and own self-interests. But as you know, when voters are polled on particular aspects of these bills, they invariably view those issues favorably. Mr. President, you are our last best hope. I know with your intelligence, you can do much better than the web site, “What the f--k has Obama done so,” which put their entire web site together in a matter of just 3 hours. If the Senate and your administration can do half as good as Speaker Pelosi, we can continue to move forward instead of back to the gilded age. Time is short for you to make any meaningful changes. Republicans not only took control of the House but 19 state legislatures flipped control. Consequently, Republicans will have a distinct advantage in the 2010 redistricting.

The re-edited Republican leadership offers nothing but the same old same old; tax cuts for the rich and no equitable or effective spending cuts. That’s not what America desperately needs or wants. Americans believed your election would rekindle the hopes and dreams of erstwhile middle class families like ours who lost hope that our children will have a better life than we had. Please don’t let them down.

In Timothy Egan’s November 2nd New York Times article, “How Obama Saved Capitalism and Lost the Midterms,” he points out the hypocrisy and betrayal you and the Democrats suffered after stabilizing the freefalling economy. “Of course, the big money interests who benefited from Obama’s initiatives have shown no appreciation. Obama as Senator, voted against the initial bailout of AIG, the reckless insurance giant. As president, he extended them treasury loans at a time when economists said he must-or risk further meltdown. Their response was to give themselves $164 million in executive bonuses, and funnel money to Republican this year.” “Money flows one way, to power, now held by the party that promises tax cuts and deregulation-which should please big business even more.”

“President Franklin Roosevelt also saved capitalism, in part by a bank “holiday’ in 1933, at a time when the free enterprise system had failed. Unlike Obama, he was rewarded with midterm gains for his own party because a majority liked where he was taking the country. The bank holiday was incidental to a larger public works campaign.”

“Obama can recast himself as the consumer’s best friend, and welcome the animus of Wall Street. He should hector the companies sitting on piles of cash but not hiring new workers. For those who do hire, and create new jobs, he can offer tax incentives. He should finger the financial giants for refusing to clean up their own mess in the foreclosure crisis. He should point to the long overdue protections for credit card holders that came with reform.”

“And he should veto, veto, veto any bill that attempts to roll back some of the basic protection for people against the institutions that have so much control over their lives-insurance companies, Wall Street and big oil.”

“They will whine a fierce storm, the manipulators of great wealth. A war on business, they will claim. Not even close. Obama saved them, and the biggest cost was to him.”

Mr. President, in 1933, America was at a crucial crossroad when President Roosevelt stood with the American people against the powerful interests who fought his initiatives at every step. When he spoke directly to Americans through his “fireside chats,” he said that giving in to fear and division would not solve anything. Mr. President you have a real gift; when you talk directly to the American people, they listen. The Tea Party folks are rightfully angry. They see their family’s economic security slipping away and their country’s economic power steadily being relegated to third world status. You have to talk directly to them so they can clearly and properly understand toward whom that anger should be directed.

Finally, a report came out just last week that showed 30% of Chicago-land homeowners are under water on their mortgages. And of course there are parts of the country in worse shape. Its clear the largest banks, who got the most help in the bailout, are not moving fast enough to help beleaguered homeowners. My own personal experience with a predatory mortgage lender clearly proved to us that bankers are different from regular people. I think something happens when they’re around all that money. Something happens to their soul. They lose their humanity. They become Mr. Potters. My bank spent more than a million dollars trying to destroy my family instead of fairly cooperating with us. We’ve still not recovered.

There are many millions of hard-working homeowners and families (through no fault of their own) who are in desperate need of a little help. My own nephew, a hardworking construction tradesman, has been off work for almost a year because of the housing crisis. He’s underwater on his mortgage but is still desperately trying to keep up payments by depleting his savings. But his unemployment benefits will soon expire. He hasn’t had a late payment the entire 6 years of his mortgage. He has attempted to refinance his mortgage to take advantage of the lower rates but even his own bank, which holds the mortgage won’t help him obtain a lower payment. It’s like they’re trying to make him fail. That just shows these bank’s arrogance and greed. They will use any excuse to deny viable borrowers a fair hand up, especially by relying too heavily on their credit scores, which may have been damaged through no fault of theirs. Catastrophic Medical expenses, a divorce or loss of employment cause 85% of personal bankruptcies and then fatally damages those folks credit worthiness for a decade or more. These banks got an enormous hand up and were saved from going over a cliff by the bailout but won’t help their own customers. This mortgage and housing crisis could drag on for another decade or more without historic intervention.

Mr. President. You have justifiably taken the banks out of the student loan program so that those loans will be more affordable for average American families. You must do something similar with home mortgages. Since the crisis began, the federal government now guarantees more than 95% of mortgages. Why not just cut out the middleman for struggling homeowners. The federal government should not just be liable for the risk of those potential defaults but should also rightfully collect the interest on those mortgages for the taxpayers benefit. That would go a long way towards paying off our national deficit. I believe every State should have a bank like the Bank of North Dakota, the only state owned bank in the nation. The bank was established by their legislature in 1919 in order to benefit their states farms, businesses and families alike. As highlighted in Michael Moore’s movie “Capitalism, a Love Story”, they had a moratorium on foreclosures for farmers, businesses and homeowners during the entire depression. They also refused to get involved in the latest banking shenanigans and are as strong as ever today.

You’ve stated that even if it costs you reelection, you will do the right thing for America. Many, including myself, thought the economic crisis and circumstances that caused your election called for extremely bold action, but the Republicans and conservative Democrats opposition fatally watered down many of the necessary remedies. If we’re to believe the experts, FDR’s and the Fed’s timid-ness at times caused a double dip, and added several years to the depression. I hope next Thanksgiving, I will look back on these next 12 months and be thankful that you and the democrats were able to overcome the Republican obstruction and avoid another depression. If I were you Mr. President, I would go out with both guns blazing. As long as you stand with the American middle class against the banks, insurance companies and big oil and as long as you explain your actions directly to all Americans, I believe you won’t fail. You told the American public that you can’t solve our problems alone, that you need our help. It’s time you asked for it. I’m doing my part by staying fully informed, preaching to as many people that will listen and writing as many letters as I can.

Exactly two years ago, on Thanksgiving 2008, I had a guest editorial published in Chicago’s Southtown Star Newspaper. I expressed my hopes for our country and was thankful you were elected. I believed we finally had real reason to feel hopeful after 8 long years of fear mongering and war. Please don’t let us down Mr. President. I have attached that article.

Happy Thanksgiving to You and Your Family and Good Luck

Sincerely, John A. Hanno

November 27, 2008


I am thankful I was born the same year as Presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush, a period of great hope and change after World War II ended … because the last 25 years have not been favorable to the middle class.

I am thankful my grandmother was strong enough to raise 7 children alone during the great depression after her husband died…because many families would not have survived intact.

I am thankful my Grandmother had a green thumb and passed on her love of growing flowers and vegetables through my father to us…because not much beats the joy of eating fruits and vegetables fresh from my own garden.

I am thankful I grew up in a family with one sister and three brothers who were nurtured and loved… because I know there are children who are not.

I am thankful I grew up on the South Side of Chicago in a neighborhood still considered rural and where every joyous day was like living on a farm…because I know children grow up not understanding the blessings of a country of such enormous bounty.

I am thankful I earned money cutting grass and doing gardening for neighbors and learned to appreciate our environment and my relationship and responsibility to the earth…because hopefully, there are enough of us who cherish this earth, to keep it from being destroyed.

I am thankful I grew up in an economically diverse neighborhood; with doctors, dentists, engineers, teachers, business owners, firemen, policeman, factory workers, construction workers and labors living in the same community…because with the stark separation of classes today, some can’t appreciate the struggles some families endure just to survive.

I am thankful my parents and neighbors would not hesitate to help someone in need and I learned a community is as strong as its weakest link…because too many people believe no one needs or deserves a hand up.

I am thankful my father, an engineer in the steel mills who worked with people of all races, taught us by example to respect people of all colors…because I realize discrimination and bigotry is passed on from generation to generation.

I am thankful I went to a great Chicago public grammar school with wonderful teachers…because I know some people believe we should not have free public education.

I am thankful I went to a great public high school with wonderful teachers, when I did…because I realize the drop out rate at Chicago public high schools, is now much too high.

I am thankful I lived in Alaska long enough to appreciate what a remarkable place

bobcox's picture
bobcox 12 years 26 weeks ago

I think you mean "Money", noit "many" when discussing what would happen if our creditors requested immediate payment of the principle on the bonds they have purchased.

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From The Thom Hartmann Reader:
"Right through the worst of the Bush years and into the present, Thom Hartmann has been one of the very few voices constantly willing to tell the truth. Rank him up there with Jon Stewart, Bill Moyers, and Paul Krugman for having the sheer persistent courage of his convictions."
Bill McKibben, author of Eaarth
From Screwed:
"Once again, Thom Hartmann hits the bull’s eye with a much needed exposé of the so-called ‘free market.’ Anyone concerned about the future of our nation needs to read Screwed now."
Michael Toms, Founding President, New Dimensions World Broadcasting Network and author of A Time For Choices: Deep Dialogues for Deep Democracy
From Cracking the Code:
"In Cracking the Code, Thom Hartmann, America’s most popular, informed, and articulate progressive talk show host and political analyst, tells us what makes humans vulnerable to unscrupulous propagandists and what we can do about it. It is essential reading for all Americans who are fed up with right-wing extremists manipulating our minds and politics to promote agendas contrary to our core values and interests."
David C. Korten, author of The Great Turning: From Empire to Earth Community and When Corporations Rule the World and board chair of YES! magazine