“Are You Listening, Mr. President?” My Open Letter re: Today’s Economic Speech

underwater mortgage 3Greetings, my fellow Politicos! I am sharing my letter to President Obama with you today. While his speech was heartening, I found little to truly help us, in our middle class family’s position. You and your family may be in a similar situation. And it’s summer vacation, so I had time to write a letter on behalf of all of us. I hope it speaks to your family’s concerns as well. Please don’t let my writing a letter to our President keep you from doing so. Maybe if they hear from enough of us, via email or snail mail, they’ll pay attention. (Hey, you know I’m the eternal optimist…) So, with no further ado, my open letter to President Barack Obama, to be snail mailed and emailed today:

Dear Mr. President,

In 2004, when you spoke at the National Democratic Convention, I was a teacher and mom of two amazing kids. Tweenie was eight, and Little Man had just turned four. We had just become homeowners, The Hubby and I, and our family was filled with hope for the bright future ahead. I called the kids over to hear your speech, saying, “This man is named Barack Obama. He’s going to be our President one day, Guys. He wants to fight for families like us.”

Now it’s 2013, and you’ve not only been elected as our President, but re-elected with an overwhelming mandate by the American people. We have supported you all along the road, and are grateful for all you have done for our country and middle class families like ours.

We’ve worked hard, Mr. President, and tried to do the right thing. But just working hard and doing what’s right isn’t enough anymore. We are upside-down in our home: our house payment is nearly $4000 a month for our two-bedroom, two-bath tract home in a working-class neighborhood. While several friends and family members have received help through the HARP and HAMP programs, we are not eligible. Why? Because we haven’t defaulted on our mortgage. We made sacrifices. We did not walk away, though it would have been easy to do so. If we weren’t underwater, we could refinance at a lower rate, and be able to save or get a little bit ahead. But as of right now, because we’ve done the right thing and not defaulted or simply walked away, we have no recourse. There is no way to escape the debt we’ve incurred, and gaining equity in our home is an impossibility.

student loans graphic

Tweenie is now eighteen and Little Man is ten. They’re still amazing, terrific kids who do well in school and want to go to college. Tweenie was accepted to a good school, her first choice. We thought state schools would be affordable. We’re middle class, so we don’t qualify for any aide other than student loans, whose interest rate has just been doubled by Congress. Tweenie’s student loan will cover her enrollment, but the dorm is $13,500. We will need to find that money in our existing budget, and since we’ve already pared back to keep current on our mortgage, we hope to find second jobs in the evening. We had hoped to pay Tweenie’s loan each month, so that she could be debt-free. But we will be too strapped paying for her housing to do that. She, too, will be mired in student loan debt as she graduates, just as we still are. Little Man goes to college four years from now. And we’re still paying my student loans.

I watched your speech today. You were right, it was “a pretty good speech.” You spoke briefly about continuing to help homeowners to afford their homes, and about making college affordable. I applaud your efforts, and I know the Congress has fought you tooth and nail, their obstructionism for the sake of political gain so obvious that it cannot be ignored. And I appreciate you letting us know that you’ll continue to fight the good fight on behalf of all working class families.

I’m writing because we have hope and faith in you, Mr. President. But ten years later my family is struggling more than ever. You’ve done so much for so many. And The Hubby and I want to do our part, but it’s difficult to continue to do the right thing, to continue to work hard and pay our fair share, to honor our debts as we’ve been taught to do, yet never get ahead. We don’t mind working hard; paying for your home and for your kids to go to college should be hard. But couldn’t it be little bit easier? Working hard and keeping up on your mortgage and bills should be rewarded; instead, there is no relief besides foreclosure and bankruptcy. That’s not right. The American Dream should be achievable by everyone, especially those who follow the rules and work hard.

You will always have our support, Mr. President. But we need your help more than ever. Please help homeowners like us who didn’t walk away, who continued to do the right thing and make their mortgage payments, upside-down with no relief in sight. If we can keep making payments now, doesn’t that make us a no-risk proposition for banks? Please find a way, as Oregon did, to make college affordable and repayment through a percentage of a student’s paycheck post-college (they have a good plan). When you think of homeowners under water, think of folks like us, struggling to follow the rules and trying to stay in the middle class, and find a way for us to refinance. We need your help. Thanks for all you have done so far, and for taking the time to hear our story. By the way, you’ll be happy to know that Tweenie will be voting in the next election (registered as a Democrat) and Little Man asked me to tell you, “Hi!’ and to let you know that you’re their favorite President.

Respectfully,

Mommapolitico and Family

Fellow Politicos, keep fighting the good fight. Tell me your stories in the comments below.

 

2 Comments

  1. First off I want to say great blog! I had a quick question in which
    I’d like to ask if you do not mind. I was interested to know how you center yourself and clear your head before writing. I have had difficulty clearing my mind in getting my thoughts out there. I do take pleasure in writing but it just seems like the first 10 to 15 minutes are generally lost just trying to figure out how to begin. Any suggestions or tips? Thank you!

    • Thanks for the kind comments! As to how to begin, well, I’m fortunate. Writing about politics is easy for me, because I’m usually fired up about an issue or passionate about an action/inaction some politico has taken. But I always, inevitably, change the first few paragraphs of what I write once the first draft is done. The post might have taken a different direction, or as I write, I find another thread that seems to be more important or better builds my argument. So don’t be afraid of starting with what may not seem strong or “good enough.” You can always change it before you publish. Once the words are flowing, the rest follows…it’s just getting something on paper to jumpstart your writing. I never title anything until the end, either, because I will often find a great title deeper into the writing: a phrase or wording that sums things up, captures the message.
      The blank page can be intimidating for every writer. Even if you aren’t in love with the first paragraph, write it down and come back to it at the end. The key is getting anything on the paper so that you have somewhere to go from there. You’re probably your own worst critic, too, so ignore the self-critique until you’re ready to edit. This is what works for me, and I hope you find it helpful. Come by KTP anytime.

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I refuse to cave to a minivan. I am still a tomboy - comfortable in Levi's, my Yankees cap and Converse. And I always have a political opinion...hell, I always have an opinion, period. The hubby, my kids and my friends think I should run for office. Maybe one day. But for now, Momma Politico blogs. Peruse, enjoy, and know that our busy lives are as significant as those in The Washington Post. Cheers, Heidi Haines AKA Perry MacNeil Momma Politico

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