President Obama is back in messianic campaign mode. It is unbecoming. When he's not snarling at conservative opponents of his endless spending programs, he's pandering to supporters as the nation's community organizer-in-chief. At a stimulus rally in Ft. Myers, Fla., on Tuesday, a woman named Henrietta Hughes stood up to decry the mortgage crisis and ask Obama for his personal help. Choking back tears, she implored: "I have an urgent need. … We need a home, our own kitchen, our own bathroom."
If she had more time, she probably would have remembered to ask Obama to fill up her gas tank, too. The soul-fixer dutifully asked her name, gave her a hug and ordered his staff to meet with her. Supporters cried, "Amen!" and "Yes!" A young McDonald's worker named Julio Osegueda bolted out of his seat and exclaimed: "It is such a blessing to see you. Oh! Gracious God, thank you so much! Ungh!"
The event turned into a full-blown revival meeting when Obama announced that the Senate had passed his massive stimulus plan. Audience members erupted into applause. Tongues of fire descended from the sky. Loaves and fishes (or rather, pork and Kool-Aid) multiplied miraculously into trillions for all. GOP Gov. Mark Sanford of South Carolina didn't know how right he was when he warned over the weekend: "We're moving precipitously close to what I would call a savior-based economy."
Like Mighty Mouse, President Obama is here to save the day. The government is here to help -- and it is your patriotic duty to pay for it all without preconditions. Hughes didn't explain the cause of her financial turmoil. Obama didn't ask. And if we conservatives dare to question the circumstances -- and the underlying assumption that it is government's (that is, taxpayers') role to bail her out -- we'll be lambasted as cruel haters of the downtrodden.
Woe unto ye unbelievers in Big Government who cling to what Obama derided as "ideological rigidity."
Well, pardon my unbending belief in fairness and personal responsibility, but why should my tax dollars go to feed the housing entitlement beast? At his fear-mongering press conference Monday night, Obama lamented that homeowners "are seeing their property values decline." Countrywide crony Sen. Chris Dodd successfully stuffed $50 billion into the just-passed stimulus package for Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner to spend on "mandatory loan modifications" for homeowners deep underwater on their mortgages. That's in addition to the $20 billion already allocated by the House last month for the same purposes.
Banks have been engaged in these "Mo Mod" programs over the past year. Democrats want to accelerate the pace and use the power of government to essentially provide a blanket amnesty for borrowers and lenders who made bad financial decisions. Yes, there are many responsible borrowers out there having trouble negotiating loan modifications. But this $50 billion giveaway to the banks -- on top of the upward of $2 trillion more from the Treasury department, on top of the $700 billion in original "TARP" funding -- is throwing more bad money after bad.
This massive expansion of government meddling in the housing market -- yet another attempt to get federal bureaucrats in the business of rewriting loan contracts and reducing principal -- will just delay the inevitable. A report released by the Comptroller of the Currency in December showed that more than half of loans modified in the first quarter of 2008 fell 30 days delinquent within six months. And after six months, 35 percent of people were 60 or more days behind on their payments.
Where's the fairness in forcing prudent homeowners and renters to subsidize people who bought overpriced houses and rescue the banks that lent to them?
Tellingly, Obama chose Ft. Myers to drum up support for his wealth redistributionism. The area has been one of the hardest hit by foreclosures, as the president was quick to point out. But many of those homes are second or third homes and investment properties. And low housing prices are not a catastrophe for everyone. They've created opportunities for Americans who haven't been able to buy in an artificially inflated market. The median sales price of a home in the Ft. Myers area fell 50 percent to $106,900, from $215,200 in December 2007. Bargain-priced home sales are up 146 percent from a year ago.
It's sacrilegious to say it in the Age of Obama, but it needs to be said: Home ownership is not an entitlement. Credit is not a civil right. Your property-value preservation is not my problem. Can I get an "Amen!"?