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This election cycle has galvanized people who never before took a passionate interest in politics.  Take my husband.  He's more moderate than I am, and while not certainly not apathetic about world affairs - he's constantly interested in current events and history and a voracious reader - was never a "joiner," a debater, or  God forbid, an activist.  He's preferred to keep his head down, stay on the sidelines, and just quietly do the right thing.

Obama's candicacy has changed all that.  

Can you guys please help him with a rebuttal to one of these wingers' emails?  Please stick it out, after the fold...

I've never before seen my husband so engaged and fired up about a candidate. And one of the most interesting things he's doing is trying to correct the constant stream of misinformation (slander, in some cases) sent to him via emails from his buddies from the old neighborhood.  Though it's a futile effort in many cases,  my husband, who grew up very poor and working class in Brooklyn and is now very successful, can't bear to see his old friends who are struggling to keep their heads above water in the middle and lower classes vote against their own best interests - especially when he suspects latent racism or just plain fear keeps them in ignorance.

The email he received needs some cold, hard, factual rebutting. I've already given him some basics, but there are issues such as the CRA and some details about the Fannie Mae/Freddie Mac lobbying (some of it done by Rick Davis, of course!) that I don't have any info or factoids on.

My husband's old friend is actually more successful than many.  He's now a mortgage broker, and apparently, a fair weather Democrat.  He sees Obama's Presidency as the beginning of the end of Democracy as we know it.  

Anyone in real estate, banking, or familiar w/economic policy out there, please feel free to jump in and rebut!  

Here's the missive:

Whether the "Spread the wealth" quote is taken out of context or not the bottom line is  going to be the same.  We currently have a Democratic congress and from everything I read their majority is going to get bigger,  maybe even a super majority in the Senate.  With a President Obama, Speaker Pelosi and a super majority of Democrats in the Senate do you really believe there isn't going to be a "redistribution of wealth" ( to quote Senator Obama as talked extensively in an interview with WBEZ Chicago public radio).  How about a tax "rebate" for 95% of Americans.  Rebate, according to the dictionary, is a return of part of a payment.   40% of Americans pay no taxes so how can it be a rebate? Could it be government hand outs sound better if they're called a tax rebate?  A rose by any other name........

As to your diatribe (didn't think I knew that big word did you) about rich Republican sponsored corporate greed I offer the following.  The economy goes through cycles. That is a fact of life.  Lately they have been running about every seven or eight years.  Think back to 1992 and James Carvelle's "It's the economy stupid" or  the hangover from the tech boom that started in the fall of 2000 and really hit full stride after Sept. 11th.  The difference this time is the housing market crashed.  That is a subject I know a little something about and now I'll bore you with details..

The origins of the current problems can be traced back to something called the Community Reinvestment Act (CRA).  This legislation was designed to increase home ownership among lower income people. It started during the Carter administration. In the Clinton years the legislation was updated and given teeth.  The goal was noble, but no good deed goes unpunished.

After the update in the mid 90's banks were asked by regulators about their CRA ratings if they wanted to buy another bank, open a branch or expand.  The result was lower underwriting standards and easier money.  After 9/11 interest rates were dropped by the Fed in an effort to get the economy going.  Lower rates and lower credit standards led to the housing boom.  The CRA worked according to plan.  Homeownership reached close to 70%, an all time high.  Politicians in both parties took credit. The problem was people that should never have gotten financing did get it.  Every time anyone raised a red flag about the potential dangers Fannie Mae (headed by Obama advisor James Johnson followed by another Obama advisor Franklin Raines) and Freddie Mac would unleash their formidable army of lobbyists.  They also made fat campaign contributions to politicians on both sides of the aisle.  Some of the loudest whiners right now (Chris Dodd and Barney Frank come to mind) received the biggest checks and were the biggest protectors of Fannie, Freddie, "affordable housing"  and the CRA.  Once the loans were made they were packaged up and sold to Wall Street, who in turn sold the stuff to pension funds, hedge funds, China and anybody else that wanted to get in on the action.  When the inevitable happened and people started defaulting on their mortgages all hell broke loose.

In my opinion the problem is systemic, not Republican inspired corporate greed.  If a Realtor comes to me and asks "Can you get my client a mortgage?" and I say "No, this guy can't afford it" she goes down the street and gets it from someone else.  The result is she won't refer me again.  If an appraiser comes to me and says I can't get value and the deal falls apart I am not inclined to use that appraiser again.  If a Wall Street investment bank goes to a bond rating agency and gets a poor rating on a bunch of sub prime mortgages it goes to a different rating agency the next time.

I'm sure you can go on the internet and find someone who will rebut this point of view.  I speak as someone who has seen this play out day to day, not some college professor who has done research.  The inherent conflict of interest that runs throughout the real estate process is the problem that needs to be fixed. I haven't any solutions and I haven't heard either candidate offer one.   I do know this.  Some of this shit could have been avoided if the lobbyists for Fannie and Freddie weren't so effective. Lobbyists are only as effective as the money they can raise for campaign contributions.  So if only we had a candidate that took campaign finance reform seriously....

That said of all the candidates that ran for President last spring I think Obama is the second best.  I even voted for him in the primary.  If the Republicans had nominated anybody else you and I would be on the same page. I believe John McCain is a man that understands where the problems in government lie. I believed that in 2000 when Bush's people where spreading lies about an illegitimate daughter of color and I believe it now.  I know Obama does his best to tie him in with Bush.  It's a good campaign strategy even if it doesn't hold water. The fact is McCain and Bush barely spoke to each other the first three years of Bush's presidency.  My standard question to all Obama supporters is can you name a high profile Republican that was banged heads more with Bush over the last seven years on so many different issues ( torture, stem cell research, campaign finance reform,  Rumsfled, immigration....)?

If McCain loses there is one huge plus,  no Hilary Clinton for eight years and possibly ever.

I'd love some cold hard facts to add to the ones that I've already given my husband.

Bless him, he takes these email rebuttals very seriously.  Sure, it's a small thing - but it's a sign that one person who really felt he had no place in politics now understands that the personal really is political - and all thanks to Obama.

Thanks in advance.

UPDATE:  My husband's response, based on all your help and advice. I've changed the recipients named to "Joey", in honor of Joe the plumber and to maintain anonymity. .

Joey, you make many excellent points! Allow me to add:

No one is talking about "rebates." Obama is talking about a tax reduction. If you don't pay taxes, you don't get money. I can't find any mention by Obama of a "rebate."

Interestingly, Sarah Palin has given the people of Alaska a rebate by pooling some of the profits from the Alaskan oil industry windfalls and redistributing four figure checks to every tax payer in Alaska. I think it's great of her to do that... does it make her a socialist? Isn't that a redistribution of wealth?

No way I'm going to argue with you about CRA and mortgages, which obviously you're in the trenches with every day. I will point out, though, that of the 25 largest sub-prime lenders in 2007 when the collapse began, only one was subject to CRA rules.  The rest were national mortgage brokers like Countrywide.  

As far as Fannie Mae goes, James Johnson and Franklin Raines are not Obama's economic advisers. You can check this on, and also here:  However, it's interesting to note that McCain's campaign manager, Rick Davis, was a lobbyist for Fannie Mae.

However, to paraphrase Sarah Palin, I'm still stuck on "redistribution of wealth," which is clearly being distorted in a desperate and pathetic attempt to paint Obama as a commie, or a socialist; someone to be feared... They tried to make him a terrorist, but that hasn't stuck, maybe this will. But the truth is the concept of spreading the wealth was promoted first in this country by that terrible communist pinko bastard... Thomas Jefferson. He said in 1785 that taxes could be used to reduce “the enormous inequality” between rich and poor. He wrote that one way of “silently lessening the inequality of property is to exempt all from taxation below a certain point, and to tax the higher portions of property in geometrical progression as they rise.”

Even Lincoln recognized this: he introduced the first federal income tax in 1862, as a flat 3 percent rate for anyone making more than $600 a year. That was good bucks back then. But anyone who made less than that didn't pay the tax.

The next year, Lincoln raised taxes. The tax rate rose from 5 percent for the lowest bracket to 10 percent for the highest. Again, nobody making less than $600 paid the tax. This has almost always been a guiding principle in this country. Even Eisenhower, and a Republican congress in the 50's, maintained an income tax rate of 90% for the biggest earners! Another damn commie! It was a democrat, Johnson, who lowered the tax rate to 77%, and then of course there were the Reagan cuts, down to 38% in '87.

And guess what? If Obama's proposal's go through, the top rate of income tax might be go as high as it was under....Reagan! Another well known commie socialist.

Although the Fox News Network and the Sarah Palins of the world would like us to think that Obama wants to come and take a rich guy's house away and give it to 10 poor people, this is bullshit. Joey, I made seven figures last year. My brother made $65,000. Who should pay more taxes? If Obama is elected, I'll pay higher taxes, my brother will pay less. That's not socialism, it's not communism, it's fucking common sense.

You touch on the "myth" of McCain's relationship with Bush... maybe they're not personal ties, but there are policy ties.  By his own admission, he voted with Bush 90% of the time, and shares "the same political philosohpy."  McCain has offered nothing substantially different from the crap Bush and the Republicans have been selling for years. And you mention the ugly smear tactics McCain's own party used against him in 2000... his own fucking party.    And yet he has praised Bush, and the picture of him hugging Bush says it all. This guy is willing to suffer any indignity to become president.

Joey, are you really saying you respect McCain's choice of Sarah Palin? Are you really saying you're comfortable with the fact that he's willing to leave our country in her hands if something happens to him? A guy who's 72 and has had cancer twice? That one decision was the final nail in the coffin not only for me, but also, as you know, for many many prominent Republicans. From what I understand, McCain made the Palin choice against the advice of his closest advisors, not even leaving time for her to be properly vetted. Why in hell would we need another president who so believes in his own infallibility that he doesn't listen to anyone, not even his own people? Been there, done that.

I respect his status as a true war hero, yet the fact is that he voted against an expanded GI bill that would have vastly increased education money available to vets, which was sponsored by Obama and the much hated Hilary Clinton. Maybe he's forgotten that he went to college on the GI Bill. On balance I think that McCain is the real elitist here, full of contempt for the American people. His choice of VP proves it, and it's time for change.

Is Obama the one and only man who can save us from this mess?  You and I could debate that until the cows come home.  The "best candidate" for our country right now may well be some brilliant, exceptional leader - male or female - who wisely has decided life is too short to go through the hell and scrutiny it takes to run for higher office in America   But Obama had the courage to run against the ruthless Republican hate machine, which as you so astutely pointed out, nearly destroyed McCain himself in 2000.  And so far, he's barely broken a sweat.   That in itself takes leadership.  Aristotle has said, "Every country gets the government it deserves," and our choices are in front of us.  As you see it, Obama may not have the experience, but his McCain's own actions during this election cycle alone prove that McCain definitely does not have the judgment. He doesn't have the temperament. He doesn't have anything new, or original to bring to the table. His campaign can't talk about the economy, can't talk about the failed policies in Iraq, can't talk about health care (oh, right, $5,000 a person. Now that's a solution. )  All his campaign can do is try to exploit and play on the fear, bigotry and stunning ignorance of large sections of this country. They are selling hate and fear, not change for the better.
Ahhh. Nothing like venting. the great thing, Joey is that you and I can have this discourse without fear of our doors being kicked in and us being taken away. That's Communism.

Now, onto more important items... how the hell are you and the Mrs. and the childers?

Again, thanks to all who responded.  

Originally posted to hopesprings on Thu Oct 30, 2008 at 07:18 AM PDT.

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