One Heckuva Job

How many times has the media shown video footage of refugees forced from their homes and living in makeshift tents? They are sad pictures to watch, but such pictures are usually from Africa. It happens all the time in Africa.

Thank God such terrible scenarios never occur here – in America, land of the American Dream.

Or, do they?

Way back in 2002, just two years into George W Bush’s presidency, he made a speech at the Department of Housing and Urban Development in Washington.[1]

Here is part of that speech:

…….I believe owning something is a part of the American Dream……..I believe when somebody owns their own home, they’re realizing the American Dream. They can say it’s my home, it’s nobody else’s home. And we saw that yesterday in Atlanta, when we went to the new homes of the new homeowners. And I saw with pride firsthand, the man say, welcome to my home. He didn’t say, welcome to government’s home; he didn’t say, welcome to my neighbor’s home; he said, welcome to my home……

…….. We are here in Washington, D.C. to address problems. So I’ve set this goal for the country. We want 5.5 million more homeowners by 2010 — million more minority homeowners by 2010. (Applause.) Five-and-a-half million families by 2010 will own a home. That is our goal. It is a realistic goal. But it’s going to mean we’re going to have to work hard to achieve the goal, all of us. And by all of us, I mean not only the federal government, but the private sector, as well…….

And so I want to, one, encourage you to do everything you can to work in a realistic, smart way to get this done. I repeat, we’re here for a reason. And part of the reason is to make this dream extend everywhere.

I’m going to do my part by setting the goal, by reminding people of the goal, by heralding the goal, and by calling people into action, both the federal level, state level, local level, and in the private sector. (Applause.)

And so what are the barriers that we can deal with here in Washington? Well, probably the single barrier to first-time homeownership is high down payments. People take a look at the down payment, they say that’s too high, I’m not buying. They may have the desire to buy, but they don’t have the wherewithal to handle the down payment. We can deal with that. And so I’ve asked Congress to fully fund an American Dream down payment fund which will help a low-income family to qualify to buy, to buy. (Applause.)

We believe when this fund is fully funded and properly administered, which it will be under the Bush administration, that over 40,000 families a year — 40,000 families a year — will be able to realize the dream we want them to be able to realize, and that’s owning their own home. (Applause.)

The second barrier to ownership is the lack of affordable housing. There are neighborhoods in America where you just can’t find a house that’s affordable to purchase, and we need to deal with that problem. The best way to do so, I think, is to set up a single family affordable housing tax credit to the tune of $2.4 billion over the next five years to encourage affordable single family housing in inner-city America. (Applause.)

The third problem is the fact that the rules are too complex. People get discouraged by the fine print on the contracts. They take a look and say, well, I’m not so sure I want to sign this. There’s too many words. (Laughter.) There’s too many pitfalls. So one of the things that the Secretary is going to do is he’s going to simplify the closing documents and all the documents that have to deal with homeownership.

It is essential that we make it easier for people to buy a home, not harder. And in order to do so, we’ve got to educate folks. Some of us take homeownership for granted, but there are people — obviously, the home purchase is a significant, significant decision by our fellow Americans. We’ve got people who have newly arrived to our country, don’t know the customs. We’ve got people in certain neighborhoods that just aren’t really sure what it means to buy a home. And it seems like to us that it makes sense to have a outreach program, an education program that explains the whys and wherefores of buying a house, to make it easier for people to not only understand the legal implications and ramifications, but to make it easier to understand how to get a good loan……

…….we want to make sure the Section 8 homeownership program is fully implemented. This is a program that provides vouchers for first-time home buyers which they can use for down payments and/or mortgage payments…….

………And so, therefore, I’ve called — yesterday, I called upon the private sector to help us and help the home buyers. We need more capital in the private markets for first-time, low-income buyers. And I’m proud to report that Fannie Mae has heard the call and, as I understand, it’s about $440 billion over a period of time. They’ve used their influence to create that much capital available for the type of home buyer we’re talking about here. It’s in their charter; it now needs to be implemented. Freddie Mac is interested in helping. I appreciate both of those agencies providing the underpinnings of good capital……..

……..part of the cornerstone of America is the ability for somebody, regardless of where they’re from, regardless of where they were born, to say, this is my home; I own this home, it is my piece of property, it is my part of the American experience. It is essential that we stay focused on the goal, and work hard to achieve that goal. And when it’s all said and done, we can look back and say, because of my work, because of our collective work, America is a better place……”


The numbers of people living in Tent City, Ontario, California, and other similar sites, are growing due the sup-prime mortgage crisis initiated by George W Bush and his administration in 2002. More and more Americans are ending up in tents or RCV’s with nowhere else to go.

So much for their American Dream.

Heckuva job yer did, Bushie.

[1] “President Reiterates Goal on Homeownership”, WHPR
      (Speech available in print, video, or audio format)

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10 Replies to “One Heckuva Job”

  1. Anything he touched, RJA, has turned to acid.
    Hearts break for these people who will be joined by millions more. Time to invest in the Tent and Porta-Potty Manufacturing Sector. Oh, right, I forgot, that’s in China too?

  2. WWW – I heard recently a business commentator from the BBC say that America’s best hope of avoiding recession right now was for its manufacturing sector to take advantage of the cheap dollar and increase exports. Obviously no-one’s told her America has no manufacturing base anymore.

  3. Not much I can add, RJ. It’s a sad affair. There’s plenty of cheap housing in this neck of the woods – but no jobs to speak of.

    Off topic:
    On a more inspiring note I’ve just read your Literary Musing “The Rope was Belfast Linen”. Very enjoyable read, thank you. It brought back a few memories of my own about our first wind-up gramophone – just a portable one, but still magical to a small child. We had a large empty room above the bakery shop, no carpet, and Mum and Dad and sometimes a friend would practice ballroom dancing to the strains of Victor Sylvester on the gramophone. Slow- slow- quick – quick- slow. One friend, a customs officer from Northern Ireland who lodged with us during the war, had great difficulty with the steps, so he marked where his feet had to go with chalk on the floorboards. 🙂

  4. Twilight – I’m so glad you enjoyed, “The Rope was Belfast Linen”. I wrote it a couple of years ago, when I used to put such things on my blog. WWW’s right, you have the makings of your own short story. If you haven’t already, try “The Sound of Music”, which follows ‘TRWBL’. It’s all about my first encounter with a large, wind-up, gramophone.

    WWW – no need to apologize. You were quite right.

    Flimsy – I wonder whether the insurance would pay out on the original cost, or a present day valuation that would be much lower? Either way, assuming you got away with it, you may pay off the mortgage owed, but you’re still left with no house.

  5. RJ,
    In his speech, Bush appealed to the public and private sector to come up with “smart, realistic” ways to get more people into their own homes.

    I fail to see how you can blame him for the excesses the banking industry employed to get themselves and lots of others in the “sub-prime” mess.

  6. Spider – quite easily. When he first came to power Bush made speeches galore on the deregulation of corporate America, and the financial institutions in particular. He undid all the controls put in place by previous administrations to prevent such excesses. Entirely, I might add, to allow them to be as profitable (read: greedy) as possible. The sub-prime crash was a direct result of that. Now, he’s whining on about re-imposing regulations once more.

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