Vail Valley Voices: A test for president and Congress
November 27, 2012
Before every presidential election, I submit a letter to the Daily encouraging a spirit to realize we are all Americans, regardless of the ballot outcome. This is a postscript to my Oct. 31 letter.
We now have the 2012-16 president in place. We’ve moved the ball toward more religious tolerance, since it appears Mormonism was not an issue with Gov. Romney, just as we moved the ball toward more racial tolerance in 2008 with President Obama’s election.
Of all the election wedge issues, the No.1challenge remains dealing with the tail end of the Great Recession that had its beginnings in 1998, and which will probably take 18 years to 2016 to come to a conclusion.
For perspective, note that the Great Depression took 21 years from its beginnings to finish, 1920 to the 1929 crash to 1941, including a double dip along the way.
I will say it again: Without understanding the equal-blame beginnings of the Great Recession, we will just repeat history down the line. It seems the electorate has less amnesia than the Congress, where a pointed finger really curves around to point at themselves. A triple whammy that started in 1998 came to a head in 2008, brought on by both political parties.
First, Congress was constantly pushing the quasi-governmental mortgage-buying organizations to offer home loans to more and more people.
Second, Wall Street was befriended by the Congress with financial regulations that allowed the bank’s math wizards to concoct new ways to sell the now infamous toxic mortgage-backed securities to individuals and organizations around the world.
Third, Presidents Clinton and Bush did not heed well-expressed warnings (as early as 1998 by the commodity futures regulatory agency head and as late as 2007 by some key international investors) that something was wrong. Instead they let their treasury secretaries, former CEOs from the same Wall Street firm, have their way until the music stopped.
Fixing something that had permeated nearly every neighborhood and employer in the country clearly involved some time and, yes, government intervention. It’s probably splitting hairs as to which person or party would have done it best up to this point, since this was all uncharted territory. The typical cyclic downturn solutions wouldn’t cut it.
The housing problem will play out over time, but with a lot of personal tragedy and lost dreams. Jobs are another matter, as the world has changed dramatically since this whole thing started, with many countries now able to make most of the traditional and many of the new things reasonably well.
We’ve had a loud enough wake-up call. Now it’s time to put extreme partisanship and raw ideology aside. Only then can we maintain and expand our leadership position in the world.
So regardless of whether your candidate won, let’s remember the facts surrounding the Great Recession and hold the president of the next four years and the Congress accountable from this point forward as a line in the sand.
Paul Rondeau is a Vail resident.