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Wednesday, March 18, 2009

My letter to the President and Congress on the economy

Dear President Obama,

I am writing to speak for the people your administration has seemingly ignored. I am an average middle class woman who wants the best for my family. However, because we are not currently in dire straits, many of the plans to help stimulate the economy do not apply to us.

For example, while we are among the lucky ones whose jobs were not eliminated, my husband’s hours were cut from 40+ hours per week to 10-15 hours a week. As a family depending on those 40+ hours per week, we’re struggling to make ends meet on such decreased hours. Though I count my blessings that we still have a roof over our heads and food in our bellies, it seems unfair that we will see little to no benefit from your stimulus package.

If we were the only family in this situation, perhaps I would be a little less resentful. However, I work as a tax preparer and I hear the same story from other hard-working families. They still have jobs, but not nearly the same number of hours they need to make their house payments or other necessary bills. As I go over the implications of the stimulus bill with them, one thing is glaringly obvious: there is next to nothing in that package for them.

One of the solutions we have looked at is refinancing our home. But like so many in this economy, the value of our home has gone down. Because my husband’s income is greatly reduced and we can’t get our home to appraise for the value we need, the two-percentage point drop in mortgage rates does not help us. Nor does it help many other families. I’ve spoken with several people in the same situation. What good is bailing out the banks and creating programs to help people with their mortgages when the people who are working hard to keep their payments current do not qualify?

I am amazed at the number of people who’ve told me that they’ve called their banks, asking for assistance with refinancing. The answer is the same: until you’re in default, there is nothing we can do to help you.

Until we’re in default? Really? So basically, in order to qualify for help, we first have to be in deep trouble? Wouldn’t it be in the best interests of the banking industry, and the country, to help the folks who want to stay out of a financial mess?

I am disgusted that the only solutions people are being offered is to default on their home loans or declare bankruptcy. Believe it or not, there are still people in this country who want to pay their bills on time. We want to get out of debt. We want to do the right thing.

But you, your administration, and Congress, won’t let us.

Do my husband and his friends have to beg their employers to lay them off so they’ll be counted in the unemployment numbers and get some extra tax-free income that we desperately need? Should I stop paying my mortgage so that the bank will see that we’re in trouble, so they’d better go ahead and refinance our loan?

I hope this sounds as ludicrous to you as it does to me. Because maybe it will give you a moment to pause and think about the people you are overlooking. The people who do not appear on the unemployment lists. The ones who are not defaulting on their loans. We do not fit in any of the statistics, but let me assure you, life is still hard for us. We’re just easier to ignore because our numbers are more difficult to quantify and we don’t make up your pretty charts and graphs.

The truth is, we will get through this recession. This country will get through this recession. And I’m extremely saddened to say, it will be on the backs of people like us. We will keep making our mortgage payments, financing everyone else because our interest rates are higher. We will keep working the measly hours our employers offer. We will also do our best to pick up whatever side work we can find. All of this you will tax at ridiculous levels because we were determined enough to find work.

The sickest part of this tale is that during this time, and even after it’s over, you and all of your political interest buddies will be doing just fine. Your families will not have to make the heartbreaking determination of what things are necessities and what aren’t. You will not lie in bed at night praying for a miracle, except maybe for the miracle of re-election. If only our problems were so simple.

I do not want a hand out from you or the rest of the government. Thus far, the handouts you’ve given don’t seem to have done much to improve the situation you were trying to fix. It would, however, be nice to get a little recognition for those of us who are clinging to our lives with every ounce of strength we have. When you look at implementing the many plans you have, please remember that your statistics do not even begin to shed light on the full picture of our country’s economic crisis. Because the people paying for your stimulus package are having a hard enough time paying their own bills.

Sincerely,

A Hard-Working Taxpayer

9 comments:

Marla Benroth said...

WOW, Danica! What a well-written letter! You hit some really key problems with the stimulus package. You told YOUR story - and the story of so many others - in the process. I hope you sent this letter to Pres. Obama and the "powers that be." EXCELLENT JOB! - marla, www.TellYourStoryToo.wordpress.com

Susan said...

May this be multiplied 10 million times! You voice the outrage of so many who can't find the words. Trully an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.

Anonymous said...

It is a well written letter and understand your frustration. But not everyone is in the same place as you, for example my parents home is paid off so they don't have house payments, secondly my dad still gets 40+ hours a week at his job. I'm not saying this to brag or anything, but let you know that many people like my parents are not in the same place you and many others are.

Again great letter and hope it get the attention it deserves.

Tracy said...

Danica - Yes, yes, yes! This is a fantastic letter, one I sincerely hope you've sent! I agree completely, that it will be hard WORKING people who turn the economy, NOT the government and "experts." Thanks for sharing!

Anonymous - I think you're missing the point. No, everyone is not hurting, but a significant number of people are And most of them are continuing to do the right thing, by taking care of themselves and not looking to the government for a handout. I think that was the point.

Jana said...

Well said, Dream.

Danica/Dream said...

Thanks for the encouragement. And yes, the point is that there are fewer people who are doing okay than the government and media would have us believe. A lot of us fly under the radar and I think we deserve some recognition. It's a sad world when people who are trying to do the right thing don't get rewarded for it.

Anonymous, I'm glad that your family is so blessed. Funny thing is, a couple months ago, hubby was one of the lucky ones too. So count your blessings, because you never know what will happen.

D. Gudger said...

My husband's salary was cut last night. We were struggling as was, but this puts us in a full-out battle to keep our house, feed the kiddo and manage our health.

When we did seek help? We were told we were too responsible for too long. We should've blown our money on a vacation to the Carribean rather than pay our mortgage. Then we could qualify for help.

Delia said...

I wanted to stand up and cheer! This letter clearly states what many of us are dealing with. We're struggling and unable to get help because we've actually tried to be responsible and do what we're supposed to.

And you're so right, this country will survive this and it will be on the backs of those of us who are actually making an effort to hold on (even if it is by a thread).

Jan Parrish said...

Great letter. I hope you sent this to him or to a newspaper.