Understanding America’s Fiscal Woes

October 11th, 2008 Billy Hallowell

With the release of the “Voter’s Survival Kit: The Smart Guide to What the Politicians Won’t Tell You,” Public Agenda is once again engaging constituents and providing a much needed non-partisan balance in the political sphere. The kit is comprised of non-partisan issue guides that focus on specific challenges: the economy, immigration, taxes, spending and the national debt, climate change, Iraq and health care.

Surely these are all major topics of concern, but with the recent fiscal meltdown and continued economic strain, I’d like to encourage you to check out “The Economy” issue guide (be sure to read them all, but this guide is an absolute essential if you want a concise overview of the current fiscal mess). While learning about the economy can be a daunting task (let’s face it, it’s not the most exciting topic in the world), Public Agenda has made understanding the issue at hand a simple and painless process. After all, how can the American electorate make an informed vote on the issues if we’re constantly relying on the imbalanced spin we hear in the debates and on the campaign trail?

“The Economy” issue guide gets down to the point, as it provides the basic facts about America’s economic debacle, potential directions the nation can take and much more. If you are a citizen, politician, political news junkie, blogger or professional who simply wants a reliable overview, this is a must-read guide.

The Fix We’re in Now

In the first section of the guide, you’ll be presented with the fact that 12% of Americans live below the poverty line (gasp). And if that doesn’t sound scary enough the actual number – 36 million Americans – is chilling (to some degree, this is actually a longitudinal improvement, as you’ll read). And then there’s savings and health care. As you may already know, Americans are borrowing more and saving less and a chunk of the American public – 16% – is uninsured.

And this is only a small piece of the puzzle. The economy is a multifaceted issue; politicians will need to free themselves from wasteful spending habits, while complicating their understanding of the national and world economies so that fiscal rejuvenation can improve the current mess.

How We Got Here

While understanding the mess is important, getting some background on how we let our country get to this point is essential. Public Agenda’s guide provides this important information. While we need politicians to set policies that will improve America’s fiscal footing, we also need to consider the fact that private companies, investors, consumers and workers all have a role in the process. The guide discusses the fact that while the U.S. economy actually grew for the first half of this year (yes, I said grew) and the productivity of the American worker continues to increase, prices are rising, we’re overstretched on credit and our government is more than $10 trillion in debt. The guide makes clear that America’s economy continues to show strength in many areas even as our economy’s vulnerabilities become harder to deny.

What’s the Plan?

Okay, so, economically speaking, things aren’t the best. While driving that point home isn’t too difficult in these strained times, talking about solutions is a bit more challenging. Public Agenda provides some choices that are championed as beacons of hope for repairing America’s economic system. While I won’t delve too deeply into these recommendations, I’ll present them here:

  • Keep taxes low and government involvement at a minimum so the free market can work
  • Focus on creating good jobs at home and securing a safety net for all Americans
  • Get the U.S. back on track to compete in the global economy by investing in key areas and growing “21st Century Industry” in America.

Public Agenda does not advocate for any one of these approaches. A non-partisan review of each is undertaken. Be sure to check out all of the relevant information on these potential “fixes.”

With economic strain comes the need for an informed electorate. Kudos to Public Agenda for formulating a guide that provides the information and perspective needed to equip voters to address the economy (and other relevant issues) during this election cycle.

Visit Billy Hallowell’s interactive blog at www.billyhallowell.com!

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  • toe
    Private sector loans, not Fannie or Freddie, triggered crisis
    <!-- story_videobox.comp --><!-- /story_videobox.comp -->
    By David Goldstein and Kevin G. Hall | McClatchy Newspapers
    WASHINGTON — As the economy worsens and Election Day approaches, a conservative campaign that blames the global financial crisis on a government push to make housing more affordable to lower-class Americans has taken off on talk radio and e-mail.
    Commentators say that's what triggered the stock market meltdown and the freeze on credit. They've specifically targeted the mortgage finance giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, which the federal government seized on Sept. 6, contending that lending to poor and minority Americans caused Fannie's and Freddie's financial problems.
    Federal housing data reveal that the charges aren't true, and that the private sector, not the government or government-backed companies, was behind the soaring subprime lending at the core of the crisis.
    <!-- story_factbox.comp --><!-- /story_factbox.comp -->
    Subprime lending offered high-cost loans to the weakest borrowers during the housing boom that lasted from 2001 to 2007. Subprime lending was at its height vrom 2004 to 2006.
    Federal Reserve Board data show that:
    _ More than 84 percent of the subprime mortgages in 2006 were issued by private lending institutions.
    _ Private firms made nearly 83 percent of the subprime loans to low- and moderate-income borrowers that year.
    _ Only one of the top 25 subprime lenders in 2006 was directly subject to the housing law that's being lambasted by conservative critics.
    The "turmoil in financial markets clearly was triggered by a dramatic weakening of underwriting standards for U.S. subprime mortgages, beginning in late 2004 and extending into 2007," the President's Working Group on Financial Markets reported Friday.

    It was the subprime lending which melted the real estate market and then the banks followed suit since they were all wrapped up in bad loans pressured by the feds to accept, or face fines and market loss.

    The subprimes were then wrapped up and packaged with other loans to conceal their risk (conceal, not fix) and absorbed by Fred  & Fannie.

    Bush has tried repeatedly to get Fred & Fannie restructured but met HIGH resistance by a Democratic congress.  The quotes are all available, from Biden, Obama, Dodd, Frank, etc etc.  No problem here!  LIARS!!

    What is Obama's answer to the meltdown?  No one knows.  he showed up to the meeting but had no opinion on what to do.  That IS leadership!!

    I mean he's just a Senator!  What can he do?  He can accept tons of PAC monies from Fred & Fannie but when it becomes insolvent, why it's all  "no comment". 

    I shudder to think of where the stock market will be in 4 years if America makes the worst mistake in its history and elects someone  like Obama who is without a clue to what is going on. 

    I have already moved most of my assets overseas and will now await the results.  By the way most of my associates are doing the same thing. 


  • toe
    if you think that fran and fred caused the world financial crisis- i have a bridge to sell you.  bring a parka.

    the one stranded on the current financial crisis has been McCain. 
    why do you think his numbers fell into the toilet?
    Because people who are not informed are easily led Toe.  Couple that with a biased mainstream media and voila!!  You give birth to lots of little "toes" running around defending the violators of our way of life. 

    You are easily led Toe.  Easily led.

  • toe
    goodness hoboblah,  i must be quite a "breeder"- 
    i am taking far too small a deduction on my income taxes!

    seriously, hoboblah- "defending the violators of our way of life"
    you see? ?  what the heck kind of statement is this?    

    if "your way of life" is derailed by my pointing out lies, hate-filled innuendo, and huge misrepresentations presented here- your "convictions" would seem a bit fragile.
    i am perfectly able and  more than willing to have a logical, truthful  discussion on points of view with regards to any number of issues.  what i have seen here- over,  and over,  and over again, are fly-by statements put out here by visitors (and the host) that have no root in fact.  Double standards that I have tried to address here seem to fly far beyond your comprehension. Hypocrisy abounds. 
    you and others here (including the host) wonder why i would spend any time at all posting at a conservative website- a landing strip that welcomes with open arms those that agree with the host- and wish to send packing all others with another point of view. why is this?  if you have convictions, my words contrary to those should have no impact other than to wonder how two people looking at a same idea, person,  or event can come away with two different impressions.
  • harrysmom

    just hear him out.
  • Titus Hunt
    I would just like to understand from a democrat's point of view how they possibility think Obama's economic plan will work.  i know and understand all of the points but it can't possibly work.  i think this is the most important issue of the election and it will affect every American.  i haven't heard anyone talk about this except for the politicans and no one has walked through a detailed version of events that will happen under his plan.  please explain!
  • Titus Hunt
    would someone please tell me how jobs are created by Obama's plan.  Since our economy has been going down the tubes lately and the democrats think Obama is the answer for our economy, i would like to know how he plans to create them.  I've listened to everything out there including his debates, speeches and his people, but they don't say much.  whatever they do say though, democrats are buying it so i guess i'm missing it.  how will Obama create jobs?
  • toe
     Obama has suggested (quite regularly throughout his campaign, as a matter of fact- Hillary also addressed this in the same manner) regarding job creation... Obama's suggestions are rather inter-related in many respects. 
    ...and, before I continue, Obama has stated, very clearly , his total realization that the economy, in it's current state,  will be a major factor regarding whatever proposals and "wish list" items will need to be set aside - postponed -until immediate economic needs of the country are addressed.
    when pressed for specifics, Obama has stated - as anyone with a brain would do- that not knowing exactly what the state of the economy will be at that time- it would be impossible to be specific on how many proposals or how much money would be unavailable to initiate certain proposals.  What he has stated addresses a number of items- and this goes to job creation, getting money back into the system, addressing the need for alternative energy sources,  less reliance upon foreign oil,  and environmental issues... all of this.  Investing in two items:  infrastructure - roads, bridges, etc.  and clean energy investments for research and construction.
    Bush, elected as a representative of  those favoring "small government" has actually radically increased the size of government-as did Ronnie. .. and this will be addressed as each department, each program, each budget will be under a microscope to determine need, effectiveness, and worth. Obama is a "pay as you go" believer. 
    Titus, you seem to dismiss the fact that - whether you like it or not- we do live in a global society when it comes to economics-  (some here like to confuse this with "one-world government" and rail against this- no one is proposing "one-world government"  NOBODY).
    As one of the movers and shakers in the economic world, how we do has a tremendous effect upon the rest of the world.  If you have any doubt in this- please note the economic crisis currently in every major country in the world - it's not just us- nor was it caused by Fannie or Freddie.  For anyone to  even suggest this displays an utter lack of understanding how inter-related world economics are.
  • Fighting4AmericasSurvival
    Lets face it... life as we have known it is GONE! 

    Hopefully the liberals will not get another chance to hand out mortgage money to their food stamp constituents.  You know the ones that feel they deserve all the hand outs our taxes can afford and then some.  To the tune of $10,000,000,000,000 so far.
  • Titus Hunt
    Toe:  i understand economics pretty well actually.  this is the reason we can't raise taxes on companies and expect them to be able to survive to compete in a global economy.  we have one of the highest corp tax rates in the world but companies are expected to stay in this country, pay high wages, and keep their prices low enough to compete overseas, and provide costly benefits to employees.  I would like to be 20 years old again too! come on majic wand, work! 
    As for Obama's job creation ideas, that is what i thought you would say.  i don't have a problem with the ideas except we need them NOW and those jobs will probably not be high paying.  Jobs are being lost at a high rate now and if Obama gets in, the decline will increase.  companies do not like to be told what to do by the government.  we normal folks will suffer as a result.   

    Also, Obama does not have enough of a record to believe he is a pay as you go person.  with his economic policy, even without this debacle we are in now, he couldn't pay as you go unless he takes from folks like me who have scraped and crawled up a step or two and now earn a little.   i would be willing to give more to others if i got to decide who deserved it.  i would want those who needed it to prove they have worked as hard or harder than i have and then i would decide how much of my blood sweat and tears i wanted to give up.  that is fair.
  • toe
    do your own calculations:


    see how you would fare
  • Fighting4AmericasSurvival
    Do you like to bet?

    The SSA tax cap limit over the past 10 years has increased from $68k to $102k - a 67% increase.  What the BHO middle class raiders will not tell you is that this cap will be abolished.  That stinks of a tax increase!  There goes the extra cash used to but new furniture or carpeting or that appliance that is on its last legs.

    Explain to me again how I am getting a tax cut under BHO?  You liberals are out of touch  with the middle class PERIOD

    Robin Hood is coming!  Hold onto your 401k and IRA's.  They will be taxed next at a much higher rate than today.
  • stewertlaw
    hahaha...  Here is some more stuff about Credit Solutions of America