23Therefore is the kingdom of heaven likened unto a certain king, which would take account of his servants. 24And when he had begun to reckon, one was brought unto him, which owed him ten thousand talents… 27Then the lord of that servant was moved with compassion, and loosed him, and forgave him the debt. 28But the same servant went out, and found one of his fellow servants, which owed him an hundred pence: and he laid hands on him, and took him by the throat, saying, Pay me that thou owest. 29And his fellow servant fell down at his feet, and besought him, saying, Have patience with me, and I will pay thee all. 30And he would not: but went and cast him into prison, till he should pay the debt… 32Then his lord, after that he had called him, said unto him, O thou wicked servant, I forgave thee all that debt, because thou desiredst me: 33Shouldest not thou also have had compassion on thy fellow servant, even as I had pity on thee? MATT 18:23-33
As I was reading this parable I could not help but notice how well it parallels the current state of our economy. Lenders and investors begged Congress to pass an emergency appropriation of $700,000,000,000 to rescue the financial sector. Congress was told that without this infusion of cash that credit markets would seize and foreclosures would spiral out of control leading to a massive meltdown of our economy. So, Congress and taxpayers agreed and provided the sought after relief.
I am appalled by the hubris and arrogance of Wall Street and K Street; they have steadfastly refused to offer any recourse to the millions of families and small businesses who were their unwitting victims. So far, homeowners facing foreclosure have found no relief from lenders and their investors on Wall Street. Business owners large and small have seen their lines of credit frozen causing massive layoffs and undermining the rest of the economy. So what happened to needing the federal infusion of capital to grease the wheels of commerce? Instead of providing needed relief to desperate homeowners and vital resources to business and industry, lenders went on holiday and the investors received big fat dividends.Before it is too late, we must instruct Congress on what to do with the remaining $350,000,000,000 appropriated through the TARP.
As a community we must ban together and demand the following:
· Require the US Treasury Department to pursue a meaningful broad-scale loan modification program that would make loans entering foreclosure affordable in the long-term.
· Reform the bankruptcy code to allow for the modification of debt on a primary residence. This would allow up to 600,000 families to avoid foreclosure at no cost to the taxpayer.
· Promote infrastructure projects that create jobs and rebuild communities.
· Invest in the nation's deteriorating and under-maintained infrastructure as the key approach to expanding employment.
· Promote neighborhood stabilization by investing in areas that have the greatest employment needs and have been most heavily damaged by the foreclosure crisis.
· Leverage infrastructure spending, where possible, to promote long-term employment through strategic investments in clean energy technologies and related environmental jobs. This should include vigorous job training and skills retooling.
· Provide targeted financial assistance.
· Approve a temporary increase in food stamp benefits (Supplemental Food Assistance Program) to help immediately those hardest hit by the economic recession.
· Make funds available to state governments to support needed social services. Forty-three states face budget shortfalls. Most of those states closed the gap through decreases in funding for public health, education, and programs for elderly individuals and those with disabilities.
Contact Congress and demand a rescue passage for our neighbors, neighborhoods and communities!