WASHINGTON - President Obama flew to Las Vegas Monday to talk with distressed homeowners and see what Nevada's 13.4 percent unemployment first hand. While he was there, he had lunch at the lavish Bellagio hotel and gambling casino with 300 very rich people who gave him checks of between $1,000 and $35,800 for his re-election campaign.
He went out there to unveil yet another plan to rescue underwater homeowners, but also took a shot at Congress for being hopelessly "dysfunctional," vowing to take action on his own without them. His latest $447 billion jobs plan has run into a buzz saw of opposition in the Senate from Republicans and Democrats who think his tax plan won't be any more effective than his last one which blew more than $800 billion with little to show for it.
Of course, by dysfunctional, the president could have been thinking of Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid who said on the Senate floor last week that "It's very clear that private-sector jobs have been doing just fine; it's the public-sector jobs where we've lost huge numbers...."
Just fine? What planet is Harry Reid living on? (Actually, he lives here in the Ritz Carlton.) With a nationwide 9.1 percent jobless rate, 16 percent if you include Americans forced to work part-time or in temp jobs, the private sector employment picture is bleak.
But maybe Harry had a bad day and wasn't thinking clearly, especially after several Democrats broke ranks and joined Republicans in voting against the president on his jobs proposal.
When Reid brought up just one part of that bill for a vote last week, which would raise taxes to finance a $35 billion giveaway to the states to pay for government jobs, three Democrats flatly voted no: Nebraska's Ben Nelson, Arkansas's Mark Pryor and Connecticut's Joe Lieberman.
Obama neglected to say anything about those desertions in his remarks at the Bellagio.
"We can't wait for an increasingly dysfunctional Congress to do its job," he said. "Where they won't act, I will."
But after submitting his jobs bill to Congress, some of his advisers told him that even that's not going to get the economy working again until he does something about the 10 million Americans. who owe a great deal more on their mortgages than their homes are worth.
So Obama came up with a revised scheme to tinker with his earlier Home Affordable Refinance Program that he proposed in 2009. At the time, the White House said it would help up to 5 million people avoid foreclosure. In fact, almost three years later, it has helped relatively few people and the foreclosure crisis is worse than ever.
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