I Can See Clearly Now

Did you see this bit of news this week?

The Obama administration on Tuesday will launch its most ambitious effort at reducing mortgage balances for homeowners who owe more than their homes are worth.

Officials say between 500,000 and 1.5 million so-called underwater loans could be modified through the program, the first initiative to target homeowners who are current on their mortgage payments but are at risk of default because they have no equity in their homes. Some experts are warning, however, that the same knots that tied up prior initiatives could do so again.

Yes, you read that correctly. More and more Americans who did not require (nor ask for) help from the federal government to lower their house payments are getting kicked to the curb, President Obama proposes yet another measure to help keep people who cannot afford their homes, in them.

So let’s see if I understand this correctly.

A family (like mine) who works hard, pays all their bills, applies for a refinance without government assistance, and does everything “right”, is served notice that the bank is calling the note and foreclosing on their home.

Yet, a broker helped some moron buy a house he couldn’t afford so the government takes steps (earlier this year) to “modify” that loan into a lower interest rate, and now, since the value of all homes are still falling, they are going to work with him to write off the amount he is underwater?

Now I know what I did wrong. I never begged the government to pay all my bills and to take care of me. That’s why we’re losing our house. It’s all so clear now.

Stupidity and Shell Games

I have a couple things I want to write about tonight, so here they are.

Thought #1

Since when are partisan rants and name-calling a serious danger to democracy?

In a blunt caution to political friend and foe, President Barack Obama said Saturday that partisan rants and name-calling under the guise of legitimate discourse pose a serious danger to America’s democracy, and may incite “extreme elements” to violence.

Why didn’t then Senator Barack Obama say the same thing when Democrats were making partisan rants toward then President George W. Bush? Why didn’t he make this statement when people were calling President Bush names and comparing him to Hitler?

Since the days of the Vietnam War, the phrase “dissent is the highest form of patriotism” has been a clarion call for the liberal left, except when it applies to one of their own.

Legitimate discourse often includes partisan rants and name-calling. Read your history book (unless it’s already been re-written, then find an older copy and check that one).

This discourse does not pose any more danger to “America’s democracy” than burning an American flag or marching in a protest to support illegal immigration.

This discourse does not incite “extreme elements” to violence any more than those who burnt President Bush in effigy or those who march in support of gay rights.

The truth is, every issue has their “extreme elements” on both sides, and those elements could be incited to violence by any number of issues. To issue a blanket statement that all legitimate discourse may incite violence is stupid.

Speaking of stupid, America is not a democracy, it’s a republic.

Thought #2

Did you hear the news? GM repaid their loan in full!

Today, General Motors is announcing that it has made a payment of $5.8 billion to the U.S. Treasury and Export Development Canada. We’re paying back—in full, with interest, years ahead of schedule—loans made to help fund the new GM

Not!

GM received $49.5 billion in TARP funds, so how is repaying $5.8 billion “paying the loan in full”?

The majority of the funds delivered to GM came in the form of a 60.8% equity stake in the company, the remainder was handed over in the form of a low interest (7%) loan. Together, the U.S. and Canadian governments own 72.5% of GM.

GM lost money again this quarter. They haven’t even broken even, so how did they repay that “loan” anyway?

This is where it gets good. $13.4 billion of the TARP funds were placed into a working capital escrow account. The company used money from that escrow account to repay the loan.

Yes people, GM used money from the TARP funds (which is our money) to repay the total amount they owed from the loan (also our money). They paid us back with our own money.

Are you wondering why they even bothered to pay us back with our own money?

It’s simple, really. They repaid the $5.8 billion (at 7%) so they could apply for and receive a load from the Department of Energy in the amount of $10 billion, at 5% interest.

The only question remaining, is which shell is our money hiding under now? Can you find it?

 
That’s right people, our money is still hiding under the same shell. They never moved it.

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Do You Feel Stimulated Yet?

I’m sure by now you’ve heard about the thousands and thousands of jobs that Barack Obama’s stimulus bill has created, haven’t you? If not, here’s a refresher.

Before I begin with all the “regular jobs”, you may want to take a look at recovery.gov. The Obama administration paid $9.5 million for a redesign of that website. I bet that web developer is stimulated.

Now let’s look at some real job stimuli, or at least what the Obama administration wants you to think was job stimuli.

Obama Administration Lie: Talladega County, Alabama received $42,141 in stimulus funds from the Department of Justice which saved or created 5,000 jobs.

Reality Check: According to Talladega County ad­ministrator Wayne Hall, all of that money was used to purchase computers, not the creation of jobs.

Obama Administration Lie: Shelton State Community College in Tuscaloosa, Alabama received $27,502 from the General Accounting Office which saved or created 14,500 jobs.

Reality Check: Shelton State employs 360 full-time and 300 part-time employees. Where do the other 13,840 people work now?

Obama Administration Lie: Arizona’s 15th congressional district received $761,420 to save or create 30 jobs.

Reality Check: There is no Arizona 15th district. Arizona has just eight congressional districts.

With all the errors, the apparent use of fuzzy math, and the creation of fictitious congressional districts, I decided to look at the summary for all congressional districts in Georgia (we have 13).

If you click the image to your left you will see all of Georgia’s congressional districts listed in the order of stimulus funds received. You will also notice a few more congressional districts than we actually have.

It appears, according to recovery.gov, that Georgia’s fictitious congressional districts 00, 86, 25, 21, 19, 14, and 27 received $6,217,770 in stimulus funds and 1 job was created in that fictitious 00th district.

Where exactly did that money go? We know for a fact the districts don’t exist, so whose pockets were stimulated with those funds? What disturbs me more than the fact they cannot account for any of the funds already spent, they are actually talking about a second stimulus “jobs” package.

Are they kidding?

First they give billions of dollars in TARP funds to banks and other financial firms with no guarantee that we will ever see that money again. Next, they give billions of dollars to automakers, again with no guarantees. And now, they cannot account for all of the stimulus money they have spent yet they want the American people to “pay back” the tax credit they received this year.

More than 15 million taxpayers could unexpectedly owe taxes when they file their federal returns next spring because the government was too generous with their new Making Work Pay tax credit.

Taxpayers are at risk if they have more than one job, are married and both spouses work, or receive Social Security benefits while also earning taxable wages, according to a report Monday by the Treasury Department’s inspector general for tax administration.

“While implementing a credit through reduced withholding is an effective way to provide economic stimulus evenly throughout the year, it is difficult to account for everyone’s circumstances,” said J. Russell George, the Treasury inspector general for tax administration. “More than 10 percent of all taxpayers who file individual tax returns for 2009 could owe additional taxes.”

That’s right, they spent the earlier part of this year stimulating you just so they could make it easier to screw you before the end of the year.

Taking TARP, the auto bailouts, and the stimulus package into account, how do you think government controlled health care is going to go over? I’ll give you an idea.

 

Don’t go around saying the world owes you a living. The world owes you nothing. It was here first.
Mark Twain

You Shouldn’t Compromise Your Principles

When the U.S. House of Representatives passed their version of the $15 billion automaker bailout earlier this week, I was disappointed, but not nearly as disappointed as I was that Rep. Thaddeus McCotter (R-MI) voted for the bailout. To say I was shocked is an understatement.

Before I get too far into this post, let me make a few statements. I understand that Thaddeus McCotter is from Michigan, a state that has been hit hard by this economic downturn because of their ties to the automotive industry. I understand he is an elected representative, whose job is to represent the constituents who live in his district. And, I understand that many of his constituents probably support the bailout effort and demand that he do so as well.

Rep. McCotter has made no secret of his support of this bailout, yet he adamantly fought against other bailout efforts in the past. Apparently, supporting taxpayer funded programs to prop up failing U.S. businesses is only correct if it happens to involve businesses that have a direct impact on your own district. It’s a shame too, because unlike many other members of Congress, I really didn’t think Rep. McCotter was a hypocrite. I thought he was one of those elected officials we could believe in. You know, someone who we could actually trust and who would stand up on their principles and do the right thing for our country.

It seems I, like many other people, was mistaken.

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Hundreds of Hands, Billions Of Dollars

Two months ago, the United States Congress passed, and the President signed, the “Great Bailout of 2008”. The Troubled Asset Relief Program, or TARP, was created to provide up to $700 billion of taxpayer money for use by the Treasury Secretary.

Administration of the TARP includes the purchase of mortgage backed securities as well as a program to purchase whole loan packages from regional banks to free up credit on the regional level. According to the Treasury Secretary, these programs will ensure homeownership preservation as well as increase the availability of credit to small businesses and individuals. The TARP also includes an equity purchase program and a program to establish insurance for troubled assets.

While lawmakers in Washington and members of the mainstream media want you to focus on the AIG bailout, the rescue of Bear Stearns, the takeover of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, and the latest bailout of Citigroup, I think you should take a look at the list of banks that have received funds or are in the process of doing so.

I find it quite ironic that some banks, which purchased other banks recently, are now on the list for a government handout. Would they have needed the handout if they hadn’t spent all their money purchasing banks that needed to fold in the first place?

The list below, which I found at the CNNMoney website, includes a list of the companies that plan to take part in the government’s TARP program. It’s a massive list of approximately 130 banks, and you’ll be shocked by some of the names on the list.

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Save The Economy, Save The World

Last week, while the federal government continued tossing life jackets to other members of the financial community, Citigroup hit an iceberg. Everyone heard the unique crunching sound that is made when a ship smashes into ice. Then again, maybe it wasn’t ice crunching as much as the cash in our wallets shrinking in value as the feds printed more money to handle the ongoing crisis.

On Tuesday afternoon shares of Citigroup closed at $8.36 on the New York Stock Exchange. By Friday afternoon those same shares were worth just $3.77. Shareholders lost more than 55% in 72 hours. Like investors at other banks and investment firms before them, the investors at Citigroup were shocked to learn that Citigroup had also sunk a lot of money into very risky investments.

Citigroup is in trouble, big trouble. As Congress debated the Great Bailout of 2008, many pundits were asking, “How big must a company be to be ‘too big to fail'”? Apparently, we know the answer to that question. ‘Too big to fail’ is now defined as bigger than Citigroup. We’re just not sure how much bigger.

As late as Sunday afternoon, the White House said they were unaware of any rescue talks, but hours later we learned a deal had been in the works for days. It appears the feds will be investing quite a bit of pocket change in Citigroup to go along with all of the other investments they have made over the course of the past few weeks. But just wait until you hear what the feds have planned to help keep Citigroup from sinking.

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