Just my Thoughts · Politics

Rescue for the Middle Class

Yes, that is what this is called – Barack Obama and Joe Biden’s Rescue Plan for the Middle Class.  I don’t know about you but I don’t necessarily want to be rescued at the expense of the freedoms I believe I enjoy as an American citizen.  I know the big speech was yesterday so I am a day behind.  The plan itself is seven pages long.  That means it takes a bit of time to read and digest.  If you want to read the entire plan, you can find it here.

This “rescue” plan is a four pronged rescue of the middle class.  The plan is ” a comprehensive four-part rescue plan for the middle class that builds on his existing proposals and adds new ways to directly address our economy’s rapidly evolving problems:  
1.  Immediate Action to Create Good Jobs in America 

2.  Immediate Relief for Struggling Families
 
3.  Direct, Immediate Assistance for Homeowners, Not A Bailout for Irresponsible Mortgage Lenders
 
4.  A Rapid, Aggressive Response to Our Financial Crisis, Using All the Tools We Have.”

While I appreciate that someone in the Obama-Biden inner circle took the time to make up this plan, I am skeptical on several fronts.  My first front of skepticism comes in that Obama is saying this must take place “NOW” – bolding is my emphasis but Obama’s emphasis was immediately.  The man has not been to the US Senate – other than to cast a yes vote for the recent “bailout” in months.  He goes back only when expected but has basically been drawing a US salary for the last two years plus without working.  This skepticism goes also to John McCain.  If you go back in time, you will see that I think that elected officials trying for a “higher” office should be forced to resign their current post to be able to run.  All candidates that are public servants were collecting money from you an me in salary while not doing their jobs.  

While I do think that some of Obama’s economic package geared at the middle class should become law, a lot of the points just reek of socialism and turn my stomach.  One part of the jobs portion of the plan includes partnering with US auto makers.  I don’t know about the rest of you but I am sick and tired of my government giving money to businesses that make bad decisions.  If US auto makers had taken some cues from the 1970’s energy crisis, the huge vehicle boom that occurred recently in the US would not have been and most of the US auto makers would have been working on affordable, alternative energy cars long before now.  Just because these business mavens went after profits at a time when they saw them and are now paying for a lack of foresight does not mean that we, the American people, should bail them out along with financial institutions.

I am a bit confused on the tax cuts for workers and families.  First, I would think that our government would need all the money it can get to help with all the bailouts now in fashion.  Second, what is the difference between workers and families, as workers get a $500 tax cut/rebate and families get a $1000 one.  If you have two workers filing taxes together, is that a family?  Is it still a family if it is one worker and children?  And, what if you don’t file taxes for whatever reason, do you still get the money?  And how would you get it?

I have to say, and I am sure this is going to come off as not being compassionate enough but I will jump in with both feet anyway, that I don’t think that extending unemployment benefits is the answer to putting people back to work.  A lot of people, not all just so I don’t get totally slammed, do not necessarily think that any job is a good job.  Let’s take where I live for instance.  If I were to lose my current job, it is totally possible that I may have to take a temporary job in retail over the holidays while looking for a better paying position.  It is also totally possible that I may have to resort to two or three lesser paying jobs to fit into my life and make what I need to pay my bills.  You will notice that no where in those few statements did I indicate that the government owes me anything because I am unemployed.

I am also extraordinarily concerned about a proposal in the plan that calls for “Penalty-free hardship withdrawals from IRAs and 401(k)s in 2008 and 2009.”  I realize that a lot of hardworking people need this money now for reasons that are beyond their control.  Unfortunately, these are the people that are also, most likely, easily scared about the market and the economy.  To allow them to take money out of their IRAs and 401(k)s without penalty will keep a few in their homes a bit longer but what will they do when their retirement comes and that money is no longer there?  Will they then expect the government to help fund their retirement?

The relief offered for homeowners in the plan confuses me.  Many things are unnecessary.  There is the recommendation for a 10% tax credit on interest paid on mortgage if you do not itemize your taxes.  Is it that difficult to itemize to get the existing tax incentives?  Not that I recall.  I also wonder who decides what “acting in good faith” is.  There are, I am sure, homeowners who are in the start, or middle or even the end, of the foreclosure process who were acting in what they thought was good faith.  Does society reward them even though intelligence would have told them that they couldn’t afford the mortgage they were signing for?  This all goes back to personal responsibility which is something that few people are talking about in this election.  It was a point in the vice-presidential debate and on night three at the Republican National Convention.

I also do not find it a new proposal to state – as is done in the Obama/Biden plan – that the federal government needs to use all the tools currently allowed it under the “rescue” – commonly referred to as a bailout by me – plan already inacted by Congress.  Why else would Congress have passed such a law if not intended to be used?

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