Michael Maiello's picture

    Unforced Obama Errors

    I have a lot of sympathy for the position the president is in with our intransigent opposition party in control of part of Congress.  Yes, the stimulus was too small and yes, his advisors urged him to concede that fight too early, but given that the other side was bent on "doing nothing," I understand the reasons for the outcome.  With healthcare, traitors within his own party's caucus sealed the fate of the public option.  No speech will make Ben Nelson and Joe Lieberman come around to a more liberal solution.

    But not everything the President does is subject to Congressional permission.  On the unforced errors front, Obama's had a rough week.  For example, a $7.6 billion program meant to help home owners with underwater mortgages, which has already been approved and funded by Congress and that the administration has been free to administer for years, has only spent 3% of its funds.  That's unconscionable.  We are approaching five years away from peak real estate values.  It echoes the failures of the larger HAMP mortgage modification program, a $36 billion program meant to help homeowners in trouble.  Only a fraction of that money was spent, with the Treasury Secretary preferring to pursue voluntary mortgage modifications (that often still end in foreclosure, even as they're being negotiated) rather than, heaven forbid, cut a check to anyone struggling.

    Today, the Obama Administration decided not to issue a pretty straight forward executive order that would require government contractors not to discriminate against gay, lesbian and transgendered employees.

    Really, Mr. President?  You wouldn't allow your government to knowingly farm out work to a company that refused to hire ethnic or religious minorities, would you?  To be fair, that would be illegal, which is kind of your point.  Yes, it's good that you support changing the law to protect the homosexual community, rather than papering it over with an executive order that a future president could easily rescind, but...

    ...When do you think you will get the law changed?  With what Congress, exactly?  You know damned well that this Congress has stood in your way on important issues and that it has forced you to settle for less than your agenda.  So why, after all you've experienced, would you wait for the law to change when you don't have to?

    This is an embarrassing, unforced error and that's putting it nicely.



    I can't disagree with anything you've written here. Do you have any speculation as to why he's made these errors? The latter I think is crude political maneuvering, but the former (only spending 3% of the funds to help underwater mortgage holders) just seems poorly handled all around.

    I think that the underspending on the mortgage modification program comes from the general ethos of anything associated with the financial crisis recovery plans -- it's not really supposed to cost what was allocated. This was explicitly stated in, say, the government takeover of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, where Congress directed the government to "minimize losses to taxpayers," even though those agencies, which own a lot of underwater mortgages, could immediately boost the economy by taking a paper loss now and modifying the loans.

    To save money, Geithner has preferred pursuing voluntary loan modifications.  That doesn't cost a lot to do.  All the government has to do is facilitate and bring both sides to the table.  Geithner has also been on record as saying that some people are simply beyond help and he seems willing to take the lender's analysis of each case as fact.

    Another problem, and this is pure speculation on my part, but I don't think it's far fetched -- the government could clearly do a lot of good by just cutting checks to the people most in trouble.  But as soon as the government makes somebody's mortgage payment, you'll have every talking head on the planet saying, "need be damned, if the government pays that person's mortgage, I want my mortgage paid, too."  The claims would be staggering and the fight very vicious.  I think the administration hoped to avoid this by going the "voluntary renegotiation" route, which few can argue with, since it's basically just a run of the mill private transaction.

    Given that the Tea Party was energized, in part, by a TV monologue about being forced to help "losers" keep their homes, I don't think my take is too far fetched.


    I have thought about this.

    And yet I am not going to claim that I have a clue to the issues presented even after reading at least 20 links on the subject.

    I witnessed first hand, the lame duck session of w bush. Everybody hated him!

    Everybody still hates him which is why Romney never calls him out by name!

    But I do feel, that Barack will have some leeway if he is re-elected.

    And he appears to demonstrate some lattitude in this area.


    I dunno.

    I do know this.

    There is NO HOPE whatsoever if Mitt accedes to the power of the Executive.

    That is all I got on this issue!

    I'm criticizing.  But I'm not saying he shouldn't be our next president.

    An unforced error makes it seem like the failure of the program(s) to help homeowners was unintentional by Obama.  Not so.  It's who he was in 2008 and continues to be today.  http://www.thenation.com/article/subprime-obama.  the moral hazard of helping undeserving homeowners (unlike those very deserving banks!)


    As for the executive order, if the gay community shuts off the campaign donations unless he delivers like they did to reverse his positions on DADT and DOMA, you'll see a quick 180 and the executive order will be signed, sealed delivered.


    I read a WH report that he wants the LGT act to be legislative, like the Don't Ask, Don't Tell reversal - not a legislative order.  Since, as I understand it, this is only for Federal Contract awards, I disagree with him on this.

    I also am very disappointed in his demeanor and message regarding the Hilary Rosen remarks - he did not give credence to the context.  Yes, she used poor wording, but in context the message was clear.  In this instance, he is adopting the GOP method and playing the 'twister' game.  Very disappointing.

    And both of these represent, IMO, political gamemanship BS.


     What was Obamas position on the bank bailouts? Did he vote present?

    As the financial markets were collapsing, during lame Bush’s final hours,  Wasn’t Obamas transition team in on the meetings to avert disaster?  

    The Republicans didn’t want to bail out the banks and in the movie “Too Big To Fail” ;  Paulson had to go to Pelosi and the Democrats , in order to get the required votes.

    The DEMOCRATS saved the bankers at the expense of the homeowners.

    Once the bankers were made solvent; Why;  would they need to seek the assistance of the working class, to petition their representatives to save housing from sinking deeper?

    The banker’s lobbyists, convinced the Democrats to save them first; “please lackey Democrat; give us the lifeboats first, and everything will work out for the better.”  

    Better for whom? The bankers? Screw the homeowners?

    The homeowners lost any leverage they may have had, in getting any equitable relief.

    The bankers got theirs; “you of the peasant class, fend for yourselves”

    Had the bankers been scrambling for lifeboats from Congress and not finding enough help soon;  It wouldn’t take a rocket scientist to figure;  the banker class would have sought an ally, a constituent group, to put pressure on Congress, to help the underwater homeowner, who would in turn pay the mortgage, saving the banker from significant losses

    It could have been …..“You underwater homeowners; help us convince congress, they need to help you make your mortgage payments.

    Instead; once the bankers were delivered from the pit, they didn’t need to ally themselves with the homeowners

    The Democrats sold out the working class.

    The democrats were going to make sure, the banker class wouldn't need to grovel for help. at the feet of the working class. The working class was deprived of the advantage.

    The bankers could go straight to their lackey democrat friends and the government would tax the very same folks, who were underwater, in order to save the bankers.

    The democrats talk a lot of crap about shared sacrifice;  but when the rubber met the road, they proved no more than liars.

    The bankers got the government money, and they also get to take the homes, and I suspect they get a big tax write off, for their losses to boot?

    With Tax relief, who needs a stable market? Instability pays well too.

    If you’re Bank of America, you keep the owner in the house as a renter.

    The renter mows the yard, keeps the occupied house from being trashed and in two or three years the bank takes the home and hopefully sells off the asset for a small profit. If not, maybe there’s a write-off against record profits  

    All because OUR government assured the safety, of the banker class, giving the majority of the life boats, to the banker class first.  

    Lo and behold there were no more lifeboats left, for second and third class citizens.  

    Once the banker class was safely in the lifeboats and far enough away from the Titanic, so as to not get sucked down as it sank; the banker class saw no need, to come back towards the sinking ship

    No need to help those underwater.

    The banker class saying “Too bad, too bad; the ship is sinking, but thank god we got a lifeboat”

    Thanks a lot, you worthless democrats;

    you’re just another breed, of useless arses  “We the people” have to keep feeding.


    "Unforced errors?" What the f*ck?

    This is not about split second losses of concentration. You know, that problem with homeowners being underwater has had a hang time of A FEW YEARS.

    Lemme check something here. Yup. The program itself is more than two years old. People have been critiquing on this site for a long time. 

    This is what's know in the trade as being completely fucking unwilling to face up to what Obama has chosen to do. 

    Same with gays. I can see Obama's memoirs now. "And gosh durnit. That gay thing. Blinked and I missed it. Swear, I had it, right there in front of me, and then... gone. Sorry."

    When politicians "miss" shit like this, there's usually a reason. Like... they've decided... 

    that other factors...

    were more important. 

    Seriously. Unless we're willing to enter into the let-em-off-the-hook-for-anything school of political analysis, I think we better look a little deeper. 


    Okay, maybe I was being too cute.  I'm aiming for critical without being angry.

    ​I know what you meant. Unforced error means you tried to make a play; this was more of a scratch or dnp.

    For me the biggest unforced error was the administrations failure to actively support Health Reform. They allowed the idiots and morons on the right and some loons on the left, to bad mouth that legislation without ever stepping up to defend it on it's merits.

    I am pissed enough about that, that the OFA continues to try to recruit me out here to help them with their data and I haven't been able to bring myself  as of yet to volunteer my time.

    I did get sucked into a meeting with some OFA folks tho' cause they had my damn neighbor Hal call me, and that was underhanded (but smart on their part), no one says no to their neighbor!

    So Monday I am going to air my grievances with them. And I still haven't decided if I will actually do any work with them. We'll see.

    Latest Comments