An open letter to President Obama

This morning, I received an email from President Obama (sent by way of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee). In the email, the president asked me to make a monetary donation to the DCCC to help Democratic candidates campaign for the upcoming mid-term elections.

In the past, I have answered these emails with a donation; but not today. Below, in full, is my response to the president.
Dear President Obama:
My patience is running thin.
Many times in the past, I have been there when you or the Democratic party needed help, because I believed you would bring fundamental change to our government. However, several of your decisions have diminished my enthusiasm:
1. The bank bail-out helped Wall Street, but did almost nothing for the average American. By propping up the value of toxic assets, you perpetuated the lie of these assets’ outrageously overstated values, merely pushing the problem further down the road. It’s also theft. The government has taken trillions of dollars from future generations of Americans and used the money to prop up the net worth of a bunch of capricious thieves who gambled with other people’s money. Private gains & public losses—an old tune I’m getting tired of.
2. The financial reform measures put in place were watered down so much that they do almost nothing to prevent a repeat of the crisis. Banks will continue to gamble with investor’s money, and to lend out many times what they possess in liquid assets. This is a giveaway to banks, and promotes growth at the expense of stability. The new rules have the appearance of having been written by the banks. This does nothing to allay the impression that some on your financial team are serving their former employers first and the American people second.
3. By failing to put a moratorium on foreclosures, and failing to give judges the authority to adjust the terms of mortgages (reducing the principal and not just the interest), you have turned a blind eye to the plight of millions of families whose home values are now much lower than what they owe on the loans. For these families, it now makes more sense to walk away from their homes than to stay. Foreclosures also have the effect of blighting neighborhoods, further depressing home values and making the problem even harder to solve later.
4. You have not properly acknowledged the human causes of the tragedy in New Orleans. Each time you refer to Katrina as the cause, you repeat a lie. Improperly designed levees and flood-walls led to this catastrophe. It was not a natural disaster. Sure, it’s easier to lay the blame on mother nature than on human incompetence and bureaucratic obstinacy; but it’s wrong. Failure to admit the true causes of this tragedy is a great sin because we also risk a recurrence of the problem if the Army Corps of Engineers is not held responsible for their past mistakes. Even today, the Corps is the body entrusted with evaluating its own performance. This is like letting the fox guard the henhouse.
5. Lastly, I know you are facing problems that you didn’t anticipate. But instead of proposing solutions that had the scale necessary to deal with the problems (the stimulus packages, financial reform, and health care to name just three), you instead brought forth lame compromises and half-measures. Instead of using your bully pulpit to stand up for what's right and shame the opposition into silence, you gave even the most intransigent obstructionists a seat at the table, interminably delaying much needed reforms.
I am gratified to see that you have begun to publicly challenge the opposition to propose better (and workable) solutions. But I wonder if it's not too little, too late. I am also pleased to see that Summers is finally on his way out; on financial matters, you would do well to listen more to the likes of Paul Krugman in the future.
I cannot at present convince myself that a donation to the DCCC would be money well spent. I still have hope for the future. But if you want my financial support, you will have to earn it.
Sincere Regards,
Michael A. Lowry
I know I am not the only one who feels this way. I hope the president gets the message.

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