Wednesday, February 18, 2009

President Obama on the Home Mortgage Crisis

President Obama spoke this morning on the administration's plans to address the housing crisis. As rhetoric, the speech seems to me extraordinarily skilled. Obama explains the problem in a way that is both reasonably simple and fairly detailed, sketches the main parts of his proposed solutions, and ends with a call for responsibility and accountability. Without explicitly using the language of relief, reform, recovery, he touches on all three and shows how they are related.

Our housing crisis was born of eroding home values, but it was also an erosion of our common values, and in some case, common sense. It was brought about by big banks that traded in risky mortgages in return for profits that were literally too good to be true; by lenders who knowingly took advantage of homebuyers; by homebuyers who knowingly borrowed too much from lenders; by speculators who gambled on ever-rising prices; and by leaders in our nation's capital who failed to act amidst a deepening crisis. (Applause.)

So solving this crisis will require more than resources; it will require all of us to step back and take responsibility. Government has to take responsibility for setting rules of the road that are fair and fairly enforced. Banks and lenders must be held accountable for ending the practices that got us into this crisis in the first place. And each of us, as individuals, have to take responsibility for their own actions. That means all of us have to learn to live within our means again and not assume that -- (applause) -- and not assume that housing prices are going to go up 20, 30, 40 percent every year.

This is the sort of clarity that FDR brought to the Fireside Chats, and a promising sign of things to come.

18 FEBRUARY 2009
Dobson High School
Mesa, Arizona
10:25 A.M. MST

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