Friday, July 31, 2009
Who Is Driving This Bus?
What is going on, exactly? Can you tell me?
I voted for our president and I like him. It's nice to have a Nerd-In-Chief for a change. But this latest government stimulus is illustrating a disturbing trend that I have to admit has me baffled.
The Cash for Clunkers program ran out of money - two months ahead of expectations. It left my best friend high and dry - she turned in her car, was given a loaner while "inspections" were done on her new federally subsidized purchase, then was told that the program was out of money and all sales were "suspended". She, understandably, flipped out. Later in the day, after I helped her get some reporters calling on her behalf, she was assured that she'd get her car delivered to her driveway as soon as the program was refunded. It appears that's happening.
But nobody knows where the money went. No one knows how much went where. Reports indicate that the incentive aimed at helping US automakers was spent more with foreign car dealers.
So we've injected two billion dollars into another corporate bailout, we've created an artificial consumer spending spree, and now we've got to pump more money in without monitoring how it's spent.
Taxpayers have been propping up business for months now with no system in place to trace where it went or how it was used. My mortgage servicer, IndyMac, was bailed out and was, for a short time, IndyMac Federal Bank. Then it was bought by West One. My mortgage lender, Fannie Mae, is up to its ears in bad loans. It's still functioning, thanks to me and my fellow taxpayers.
But I've been trying to get IndyMac and Fannie Mae to consider me for a loan modification for eight months. I haven't missed a payment but my payment is almost 70% of my monthly income. I'm struggling to keep up, applying for programs only to find they've been revised, that I no longer qualify, or that I have to apply all over again. I'm on my last attempt...this time, going straight for the presidential program. If they turn me down again, my bank and my lender, both of which were saved by me, will continue on with hardly a stutter step while I either sell or give up my house.
I'm working with a local non-profit that's got a staff devoted to averting foreclosures. Their advice? Call every week. Find out the status of your application. I have my doubts that it matters whether I call or not, but I can tell you it's not easy to even figure out what number I should call. IndyMac/IndyMacFederal/WestOne really doesn't want to hear from me.
Yet I've gotten four letters from them, asking if it's getting harder to pay for my house and wouldn't I like to refinance?
You bet I would. Except with my current income level, I wouldn't qualify for a loan anymore.
Is this just all so complicated that no one can figure out how to fix it?
Then there's the health care reform debate. I'm for reform. I'll make that clear up front. But when I see the president having to reassure seniors that they're not going to, as they've heard they will, ward off federal reps who come up to the door asking them "how they'd like to die", it just seems completely hopeless. Seniors think the reform plan is to euthanize them all? Is this country that lost?
I've heard this administration isn't small business friendly - that they're adding taxes and fees on small business to maintain big business. If that's true, it's a mistake. Or maybe it's a scare tactic that's tacked on to the "Let's kill all the old folks" whopper.
The Great Big Bus of the United States of America is still way off course and it's picking up speed. And I begin to think there's still nobody at the wheel. Or maybe the problem is there are too many hands on that wheel.
Fasten your seatbelts.