REMARKS BY THE PRESIDENT ON HOMEOWNERSHIP June 18, 2002, 10:30 A.M. EDT

REMARKS BY THE PRESIDENT ON HOMEOWNERSHIP
at the Department of Housing and Urban Development
Washington, D.C.
June 18, 2002, 10:30 A.M. EDT

THE PRESIDENT: Well, thank you all very much for that kind welcome. I’m here for a couple of reasons. First, I want to thank you all for your service to the greatest nation on the face of the Earth. (Applause.) I’m here to celebrate National Homeownership Month, because I believe owning a home is an essential part of economic security. And I’m concerned about the security of America. (Applause.)

HUD is an “important agency,”. I had the pleasure on June the 12th of speaking to the last President who visited HUD. I wish number 41 a happy birthday. (Applause.) And I’m glad you’ve invited me here today, I really am. I first am really proud of Mel Martinez and Alphonso Jackson. I’ve known Mel for a while, I’ve known Alphonso for a long time. There was no question in my mind that these two fine Americans would do a great job in leading this important agency. (Applause.)

I want to thank all those who have assumed leadership roles, who have left your states and your friends to come and serve America. And that’s important. Service to our country is an incredibly important part of being an American.

I want to thank all those who have worked here for a short time and long time, who will be here after we leave. I want to thank a man named Larry Thompson, who has worked here for — where’s Larry? (Applause.) Larry’s been here for 30 years. And I want to — appreciate your service, Larry, and thank you for setting such a fine example for many others inside this building who serve the country.

Let me first talk about how to make sure America is secure from a group of killers, people who hate — you know what they hate? They hate the idea that somebody can go buy a home. They hate freedom; that’s what they hate. They hate the fact that we worship freely. They don’t like the thought of Christian, Jew and Muslim living side by side in peace. They don’t like that at all. And therefore, they — since they resent our freedoms, they feel like they should take out their resentment by destroying innocent lives. And this country will do everything we can possibly do to protect America. (Applause.)

And that’s going to mean making sure our homeland is secure, and I appreciate the progress we’re making on setting up a Department of Homeland Security. I know it’s going to be hard for some in Congress to give up a little power here and there, but I think it’s going to happen because people realize we’re here to serve the American people, not here to serve a political party or turf in the United States Congress. (Applause.)

But the best way to secure the homeland is to hunt them down one by one. And I mean hunt them down one by one and bring them to justice, which is precisely what America will do. (Applause.)

I want to thank the choir for coming, the youngsters for being here. I just want you to know that, when we talk about war, we’re really talking about peace. We want there to be peace. We want people to live in peace all around the world. I mean, our vision for peace extends beyond America. We believe in peace in South Asia. We believe in peace in the Middle East. We’re going to be steadfast toward a vision that rejects terror and killing, and honors peace and hope.

I also want the young to know that this country, we don’t conquer people, we liberate people — because we hold true to our values of life and liberty and the pursuit of happiness. The security of our homeland, the need to make sure that America is safe and secure while we chase peace is my number one priority for the country.

But I’ve got another priority, as well. I not only want America to be safer and stronger, I want America to be better. (Applause.) I want America to be a better place. I worry about our economy, because there are people who can’t find work who want to work. In this town, people look at numbers all the time — you know, such and such a number dropped, or this number increased. What I worry about are hearts and souls. That’s what I worry about. And if somebody is trying to find work who can’t find work, we need to continue to expand our job base. (Applause.)

We also have got to understand, in this land of plenty, there are pockets of hopelessness and despair. You know, I mentioned the word American Dream in Atlanta. I also recognize that some people aren’t sure that dream extends to them. Some people don’t even know what the dream means. And our job — our jobs, our collective jobs, is to make sure that notion of the American Dream extends into every single neighborhood around this country. (Applause.)

I know this isn’t the right department when I talk about education, but education, making sure every child is educated and no child is left behind, is part of making sure the American Dream extends to every single neighborhood in America. (Applause.) And we’re making progress in a practical way when it comes to educating children, because, you know what, for the first time the federal government says, if you receive money, you need to let us know whether the children are learning to read and write and add and subtract. And if they are, we’ll praise the teachers and praise the parents and praise the administrators. But if not, if our children can’t read and write and add and subtract, instead of just hoping something changes, we’re going to use the accountability system to insist upon change, so every child has a chance to realize the dream in America. (Applause.)

But I believe owning something is a part of the American Dream, as well. I believe when somebody owns their own home, they’re realizing the American Dream. They can say it’s my home, it’s nobody else’s home. (Applause.) And we saw that yesterday in Atlanta, when we went to the new homes of the new homeowners. And I saw with pride firsthand, the man say, welcome to my home. He didn’t say, welcome to government’s home; he didn’t say, welcome to my neighbor’s home; he said, welcome to my home. I own the home, and you’re welcome to come in the home, and I appreciate it. (Applause.) He was a proud man. He was proud that he owns the property. And I was proud for him. And I want that pride to extend all throughout our country.

One of the things that we’ve got to do is to address problems straight on and deal with them in a way that helps us meet goals. And so I want to talk about a couple of goals and — one goal and a problem.

The goal is, everybody who wants to own a home has got a shot at doing so. The problem is we have what we call a homeownership gap in America. Three-quarters of Anglos own their homes, and yet less than 50 percent of African Americans and Hispanics own homes. That ownership gap signals that something might be wrong in the land of plenty. And we need to do something about it.

We are here in Washington, D.C. to address problems. So I’ve set this goal for the country. We want 5.5 million more homeowners by 2010 — million more minority homeowners by 2010. (Applause.) Five-and-a-half million families by 2010 will own a home. That is our goal. It is a realistic goal. But it’s going to mean we’re going to have to work hard to achieve the goal, all of us. And by all of us, I mean not only the federal government, but the private sector, as well.

And so I want to, one, encourage you to do everything you can to work in a realistic, smart way to get this done. I repeat, we’re here for a reason. And part of the reason is to make this dream extend everywhere.

I’m going to do my part by setting the goal, by reminding people of the goal, by heralding the goal, and by calling people into action, both the federal level, state level, local level, and in the private sector. (Applause.)

And so what are the barriers that we can deal with here in Washington? Well, probably the single barrier to first-time homeownership is high down payments. People take a look at the down payment, they say that’s too high, I’m not buying. They may have the desire to buy, but they don’t have the wherewithal to handle the down payment. We can deal with that. And so I’ve asked Congress to fully fund an American Dream down payment fund which will help a low-income family to qualify to buy, to buy. (Applause.)

We believe when this fund is fully funded and properly administered, which it will be under the Bush administration, that over 40,000 families a year — 40,000 families a year — will be able to realize the dream we want them to be able to realize, and that’s owning their own home. (Applause.)

The second barrier to ownership is the lack of affordable housing. There are neighborhoods in America where you just can’t find a house that’s affordable to purchase, and we need to deal with that problem. The best way to do so, I think, is to set up a single family affordable housing tax credit to the tune of $2.4 billion over the next five years to encourage affordable single family housing in inner-city America. (Applause.)

The third problem is the fact that the rules are too complex. People get discouraged by the fine print on the contracts. They take a look and say, well, I’m not so sure I want to sign this. There’s too many words. (Laughter.) There’s too many pitfalls. So one of the things that the Secretary is going to do is he’s going to simplify the closing documents and all the documents that have to deal with homeownership.

It is essential that we make it easier for people to buy a home, not harder. And in order to do so, we’ve got to educate folks. Some of us take homeownership for granted, but there are people — obviously, the home purchase is a significant, significant decision by our fellow Americans. We’ve got people who have newly arrived to our country, don’t know the customs. We’ve got people in certain neighborhoods that just aren’t really sure what it means to buy a home. And it seems like to us that it makes sense to have a outreach program, an education program that explains the whys and wherefores of buying a house, to make it easier for people to not only understand the legal implications and ramifications, but to make it easier to understand how to get a good loan.

There’s some people out there that can fall prey to unscrupulous lenders, and we have an obligation to educate and to use our resource base to help people understand how to purchase a home and what — where the good opportunities might exist for home purchasing.

Finally, we want to make sure the Section 8 homeownership program is fully implemented. This is a program that provides vouchers for first-time home buyers which they can use for down payments and/or mortgage payments. (Applause.)

So this is an ambitious start here at the federal level. And, again, I repeat, you all need to help us every way you can. But the private sector needs to help, too. They need to help, too. Of course, it’s in their interest. If you’re a realtor, it’s in your interest that somebody be interested in buying a home. If you’re a homebuilder, it’s in your interest that somebody be interested in buying a home.

And so, therefore, I’ve called — yesterday, I called upon the private sector to help us and help the home buyers. We need more capital in the private markets for first-time, low-income buyers. And I’m proud to report that Fannie Mae has heard the call and, as I understand, it’s about $440 billion over a period of time. They’ve used their influence to create that much capital available for the type of home buyer we’re talking about here. It’s in their charter; it now needs to be implemented. Freddie Mac is interested in helping. I appreciate both of those agencies providing the underpinnings of good capital.

There’s a lot of faith-based programs that want to be involved with educating people about how to buy a home. And we’re going to have an active outreach from HUD. (Applause.)

And so this ambitious goal is going to be met. I believe it will be, just so long as we keep focused, and remember that security at home is — economic security at home is just an important part of — as homeland security. And owning a home is part of that economic security. It’s also a part of making sure that this country fulfills its great hope and vision.

See, I tell people — and I believe this — that out of the evil done to America will come some incredible good. (Applause.) You know, they thought they were attacking a country so weak and so feeble that we might file a lawsuit or two, and that’s all we’d do. (Laughter.) That’s what they thought. We’re showing them the different face of America. We’re showing them that we’re plenty tough. When it comes to taking somebody trying to take away our freedoms, we’re tough, and we’re going to remain tough and steadfast. (Applause.)

But I also want people to see the deep compassion of America, as well. I want the world to see the other side of our character, which is the soft side, the decent side, the loving side. I want people to know that when we talk about dreams, we mean big dreams. And when we talk about a free society, we want a society in which every citizen has the chance to advance, not just a few.

And part of the cornerstone of America is the ability for somebody, regardless of where they’re from, regardless of where they were born, to say, this is my home; I own this home, it is my piece of property, it is my part of the American experience. It is essential that we stay focused on the goal, and work hard to achieve that goal. And when it’s all said and done, we can look back and say, because of my work, because of our collective work, America is a better place. Out of evil came incredible good.

Thank you all for coming by.

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Why a “non-wealthy Republican” Is, In Fact, An Oxymoron

Republican­s classify non-wealth­y Americans as either consumers, labor, cannon fodder, or entitlemen­t spending.   Their every policy and legislative act makes it apparent that they believe that they should be able to cheat the first, abuse the second, carelessly waste the third, and dispose of the fourth.   Finally, note that – in the eyes of the Republicans – the third quickly evolve into the fourth once whatever war the Republicans found them useful for finally ends.

Which are you?  If you are not, in fact, wealthy – or even if you are, but you believe that Americans are individual citizens and human beings – then to be Republican is to betray yourself.

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How to tell when it is time to make…alternative plans.

First, all societies – all nations – are alike in that they are all populated by humans, and in human society there are ever those who reject the concept of a society of equals and rather than choose civilization, choose instead to pander to their baser instincts.  To such, status is all…but because they lack the emotional characteristics – compassion, empathy, altruism – that have over time bound humans first into societies and then into civilization, they see attaining status by oppressing the many as preferable to earning status by working towards the common good.

Secondly, throughout human history the underlying cause of all of the catastrophes – war, artificial famines, torture and worse in the name of religion, mass poisonings from toxic pollution, etc. – that we have inflicted upon ourselves can be traced back to the few (to what are, essentially, proto-humans) who are emotionally incapable of valuing others as equals…and so incapable of coexisting as equals…and so driven to attain status – to attain power – over others; status and power that they will inevitably abuse for the same reasons that they are driven to attain it.

Distinguishing between those who have or can earn status and those who are driven to take status by some other means is, in fact, the great trick to maintaining a democracy…a nation…a civilization.  This is no secret in the modern political realm; as evidence, I give you the ever growing masses of advertising and other forms of propaganda focused either on attacking the opposition or hate- and fear-mongering; such is designed to ensure that you don’t look too closely at the candidate or judge them or their party by what they have done rather than by what they say.

More to the point, throughout human history the weapons of oppression have ever been the manipulation of truth, wealth, and the force of arms (usually in that order and, unfortunately, eventually all three).   You can judge the likely direction of a society or a nation by the deployment of those weapons.  For example, a society or nation devaluing truth (or, conversely, routinely permitting untruth within their political discourse – in their media and political advertising, today) is one clue.   Wealth being deployed against truth (such as was enshrined in law in America recently by Citizens United) or being so casually used to corrupt government that it becomes a national joke are yet more clues.

Further, consider how much wealth America poured into organizations designed to spread the truth – Radio Free Europe, Voice of America, Radio y Televisión Martí, etc. – because we knew the truth was the single greatest enemy of totalitarian regimes; now consider how much wealth is being used against the truth in America by the American right.  To use an antiquated term, the sands of time are slipping by…

And this go-round, America’s enemies are primarily internal and so much more effective; there is an all too great possibility that America’s lifespan will be compressed to the same extent as history’s other examples of nations destroyed…free one day, totalitarian the next, and gone the following – all within a single generation.

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Observations

I would observe that the United States of America is the American people; if that is not true, then our government’s actions in “defense” of the United States of America would be limited to the geographical confines of our states and territories, and so all actions taken by our military to protect American citizens, commerce, and shipping offshore – to include Ronald Reagan’s invasion of Grenada all the way back to the First Barbary War – would be illegal.

I would further observe that the defense of the American people by our government is mandated under the preamble to the Constitution by at least two phrases:  “provide for the common defense” and “promote the general welfare”.

I would also observe that our government fulfills that mandate to defend the American people in part by defending the American people against malicious avariciousness through the prevention of pollution that would otherwise inflict harm or death upon the American people, by protecting us from bad drugs and other dangerous consumer products, by ensuring that the American people are paid something approximating a living wage, by providing social safety nets for those whose ability to provide for themselves is limited, by demanding that the American people be provided with safe workplaces, and so on.

I additionally observe that when the right – the Republicans, the Tea Party, and the wealthy “conservatives” who control them both – attacks the ability of government to defend the American people against the malicious avariciousness of the right by attacking the ability of government to carry out the aforementioned defensive activities, they declare and name themselves a domestic enemy.

I would finally observe that the oath all Americans swear upon entering the military is

I, _____, do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; and that I will obey the orders of the President of the United States and the orders of the officers appointed over me, according to regulations and the Uniform Code of Military Justice. So help me God.”

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The right’s true goal…

The right’s true goal – inspired by the propaganda of such as Grover Norquist and the Koch brothers – is the Balkanization of the United States of America and the elimination of the federal government as an effective force for good.

That is, the good of the American people.

The American people can’t seem to grasp the fact that America isn’t the physical land but rather they themselves; consequently, they do not understand that ensuring their well-being is in the hands of the federal government…the entity tasked at the creation of this nation by the Constitution with:

“We the people of the United States, in order to form a more perfect union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.”

If the American people understand nothing else, they need to understand that the right interprets “individual liberty” to mean the ability to abuse whoever however and whenever they want to in their pursuit of power and wealth.  Unless the American people come to understand that, the threat from the right will solidify and become…material.

The right attacks the federal government in order to abrogate its ability to defend the American people against them.

Yes, it really is that simple.

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Tired of Big Oil’s power? Nuke plants make you nervous? Do something about it!

Use your computer’s idle time to help find clean energy solutions.  Just go to http://cleanenergy.harvard.edu and watch the tutorial entitled “Harvard Clean Energy Project (CEP) Tutorial” for the HowTo.

Me, I’m tired of Americans dying to ensure Big Oil’s profits…tired of my gasoline money turning into the weapons terrorists use against us…tired of the enormous trade deficits that arise in large part from oil payments…tired of Big Oil’s money being used to buy propaganda that corrupts our elections and so our democracy…tired of oil spill after environmental disaster…tired of politicians who would take us to war for oil…tired of people speculating in the oil market and derailing our economy over and over and over again…tired of people having to choose between commuting to work or paying their mortgage and feeding their kids.

I’m tired of it; I’m doing what I can about it.  Sure, the extra run time on some of my computers costs me some money in burned electricity and so also contributes to green house gas emissions, but is the goal – the elimination of our dependency upon hydrocarbons – worth it?

It surely is to me.  I’m tired of an America held hostage and so crippled by oil addiction – and I can’t say that world events of late have caused my optimism about nuclear energy to increase.

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Ayn Rand, agent provacateur?

This is kind of a speculative and possibly irrational comment, so feel free to find something more relevant to do.

Essentially – in my opinion – what has gone wrong with America is the top of the food chain (the CEOs, the hedge fund managers, the “private investor groups”, Wall Street, the bankers, and the rest of the HNWIs) has seized Ayn Rand’s “If it makes you feel good, do it.” philosophy with both hands and run with it…except they refuse to be restrained by the addendum that modified and modifies the behavior of the Bohemians, the “hepcats”, the “hippies”, and those others who have followed that philosophy over the years – to whit:  “If it makes you feel good, do it – unless you might hurt somebody else.”

Now comes what I find to be some interesting coincidences…and what you may find to be indicative of paranoid schizophrenia.

I know the history of communism in Russia; I know of its “coming of age” there.  I know how the Soviet Union attempted to export communism throughout the majority of the 20th century.  I know the Soviet Union’s Comintern was particularly aggressive in carrying out its U.S. activities in the period 1915 through 1940.  I know that in 1926 Ayn Rand came here from the Soviet Union – although those who find her philosophy of greed before all else to be enabling prefer to say “Russia” for its smaller semantic payload.

And I can look around America and see – cannot, in fact, avoid seeing – what her philosophy of satiating one’s greed to the exclusion of all other considerations…whether moral, ethical, or patriotic…has done to America.

I further recall how even as the Soviet Union decayed the communists in the People’s Republic of China picked up the torch of the greed that our few have in so much abundance.  I cannot avoid recognizing how the PRC has used that greed to fuel their ascension towards global primacy while burning down our own industrial infrastructure…all while the flames of unsustainable trade deficits consume our economy.

And every time I think about those…coincidental…factors and actors and consider their consequences upon America, I cannot help but wonder if our wealthy few were recognized to be America’s one and only weakness; the one gaping hole which the American people, themselves so difficult to defeat in frontal combat, could not defend.

There is no ignoring the fact that every communist revolution in the world was launched after the wealthy of that nation came to believe that they didn’t have to worry about overstepping their limits because they were above limits.  At the root of every single communist revolution lies the belief among too many of that nation’s wealthy few that anything they did to exploit their fellow citizens was justified…because satiating greed and the lust for power were themselves self-justifying goals.

What country that has fallen to communism has not exhibited the symptoms of “Greed is good!” and “Economic oppression doesn’t count!”?

What better way, then, to create the conditions required for the gestation of communism than to enable a nation’s greediest to do what they already want to doto great excess?  What better way to bring about a country’s downfall than to contradict common sense by encouraging the belief that the oppression of the many by the few is a risk-free path to great rewards?  And not just risk-free, but “good and proper”?

When I ponder the facts…the events…the actions undertaken by some Americans over this last half-century, I cannot help but wonder if someone somewhere other than America came to understand that the easiest way to destroy America was essentially to pay her with her own moneyto destroy herself through enabling the greed of her wealthiest.

Sometimes I even wonder if the same thinking has ever been the subject of conversation at Oxford?  I must perforce recognize that attacks upon multiple fronts are so common in the history of political, diplomatic, and physical warfare that the somewhat unusual term “multipronged” is used to describe the strategy.

On the other hand, I myself may be attempting to justify the unjustifiable…it is possible that I create external drivers rather than accept the possibility that Americans – nominally, at least – naturally exist who see the destruction of America as an inconsequential byproduct of satiating their greed.  Unfortunately for my peace of mind, the fact that the very same people so often have a cavalier attitude towards their pollution of the only planet we have suggests to me that either they truly don’t care or they – whether they know it, or not – are the equivalent of “suicide bombers” operating on a nearly inconceivable scale.

Whatever…for as America is crumbling under the assault of their greed, in the final analysis their motivation is moot.  Might as well ask why you can’t breath water as you sink below 100 meters.

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