Friday, September 30, 2011

The President's job speech - Reaction Part 1

Ok, I'm a little slow in posting my comments to the jobs speech. The President spoke three weeks ago, and I've just gotten around to starting my comments. My apologies if you were waiting. But I promise to complete this fairly quickly. The speech was long, I printed it and it took 10 pages. My response will be long too,

I commented right after the jobs speech that I was glad the President spoke. I should have also said I was impressed with his speech. I was amazed the first time I heard him speak at the 2004 Democratic National Convention. I knew then, that he was going places. He's a good speaker and has good speech writers.

When I read the President's speech (found here), my first impression was that he gets it. He understands. He used words like "an urgent time" and said that we "face an economic crisis." These are strong, but accurate words. He understands that "millions of Americans... don't care about politics," they just want the problem solved. And he understands that the problem is unemployment. If we fix this problem, we fix the economy (and most likely the deficit).

But I begin to have problems when he began to talk about a "compact." He accurately depicted "an America where hard work and responsibility paid off" and where "if you did the right thing, you could make it." But I'm not sure that's a compact. And then he followed by saying that "Washington has not always put [the people's] interests first." While I'm certain that part is true, I'm not sure what, if anything, Washington's role should be in the compact between people and their employers.

After this aside, the President returned to the track that I agree with. He says that "our recovery will be driven not by Washington, but by our businesses and our workers." These kinds of statements give me hope that he may actually see the right way to run this country. But then he began to give details on his plan - The American Jobs Act. He repeatedly tells Congress that they "should pass [this bill] right away." Only there was no bill. For four days. After he had delayed his speech for several days. But right away, they should pass it.

Once President Obama began talking about parts of the to-be-delivered bill, I noticed a familiar refrain. First, he talks about cutting taxes for small businesses that hire new workers. This is similar to the HIRE Act of 2010 that I discussed here. This didn't stimulate hiring then, is there any reason to believe it will work now?

Next the President talks about putting "people to work rebuilding... decaying roads and bridges." Can someone say "shovel ready?" While I do believe transportation costs affect the economy more than any single factor, I don't think that just because "construction companies... [are] waiting to get to work" we should throw good money after bad. This didn't work in the previous stimulus, it won't work now. We may need to rebuild our infrastructure, but let's not call it a jobs program.

President Obama tells us that the American Jobs Act will "repair or modernize at least 35,000 schools." While I agree our schools need help (see here and here for two recent posts on schools), the best help would be for Washington to step away and let the states manage them.

The speech goes on with a promise to "rehabilitate homes and businesses in communities hardest hit by foreclosures." Wasn't this tried before? Didn't we pass a Mortgage Reform Act to reduce foreclosures? And how's that working out?

(more notes on the speech to come. Please feel free to comment now or wait).

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Debt collectors calling your cell phone? * Updated *

Not many people know it, but debt collectors are not supposed to call your cell phone. That's part of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, but it may change soon due to the proposed deficit reduction plan. Certainly many people don't have landlines any more and this is the only way to contact them, however, it's not been widely publicized.

Everyone hates debt collectors, I suspect even debt collectors hate other debt collectors. They tend to make lawyers look good. But unfortunately, their job is essential and one way to avoid them is to pay your bills. I know, that's easy for me to say and a little bit callous. To protect the collectee, there are rules that collectors must follow. A lot don't and the FTC says there were 140,000 complaints against debt collectors last year alone. I suspect there were a lot more issues that never got reported. Many people won't register a complaint because they know they legitimately owe the debt. does a good job of explaining this change and lists some of the guidelines debt collectors are supposed to follow in this posting.

According to this report from Fox News, "apply only to cases in which money is owed the government." I guess we'll know more as the details come out

Friday, September 09, 2011

Let's Reclaim the Post-9/11 Unity

I was looking for the President's speech from last night. Before I found it, I found this op-ed written by Pres. Obama asking for Americans to "regain the sense of common purpose that stirred in our hearts 10 years ago."

In the op-ed, President Obama also notes "that our differences pale beside what unites us and that when we choose to move forward together, as one American family, the United States doesn't just endure, we can emerge from our tests and trials stronger than before."

Mr. President, I couldn't agree more. I promise to work towards the civility that you, and others have asked for. I'd like you to lead and stop blaming Republicans for everything as I saw in your speeches last week. I'd like you to use your leadership influence and ask those around you to stop bashing Tea Partiers, those in other (or the same) wealth class and whoever the target-du-jour happens to be.

I promise to do my part, will you do yours?

Thursday, September 08, 2011

The President's speech - American Job Act

The president's speech motivates me to start my blog back. I saw some things in the speech that I needed to comment on. I'll wait to comment in detail until I can read the speech, but some things need immediate attention.

My first comment - did you notice that there was no Republican response? Apparently, they read my blog post from January (here) A response tonight would have been premature as President Obama's speech had not been publi8shed. The R's could have written a speech a few days ago, making some guesses about what the president was going to say. Instead the let the president have his say. Hopefully this trend will take off and we won't have a response every time the president speaks.

My second comment is regarding the congressmen who were absent. One of my senators had indicated he would not be there. I think this is disrespectful. While I may not like the current president and don't agree with most of his ideas, I do believe he deserves a certain amount of respect because of his office. I intend to send him a note indicating my displeasure.

I noticed that the president said this bill would be paid for. However, the devil's in the details. He said he would challenge congress with paying for it as a part of their upcoming budget. To me, that sounds like he's hoping they will pay for it.

I noticed that the President did not blame Republicans, past or present, for the problems. Too often he has done that and too often while he's on the campaign trail he complains about Republicans. Hopefully, he won't do this when he starts pushing this bill.

Overall, I did like the fact that the President spoke. I believe this president has been reluctant to lead too many times in the past. Instead this time, he is introducing a bill. I may not agree with it, but at least he's started the process.

 I will be reading the jobs act in the near future and will publish my thoughts.