Last week in the Minneapolis City Council we took a vote to freeze mortgage foreclosures for a 90 day period. The final tally was 9-4. It passed. But what I was most dismayed about was the fact that there were any oppositional votes at all in an all Democratic city council
To be fair everyone has the right to vote however they want on any given issue. And I certainly don’t have a patent on “progressive doctrine”. But I thought that the Democratic Party stood up for “the little guy”. We’re supposed to be the party that protects the downtrodden, which speaks up for the “least of these”. Our entire society is based on the tenets of the welfare state. Social Security, Medicare, FHA Housing loans, VA benefits, Affirmative Action, environmental protections. Somewhere along the line we have lost our way.
Many Republicans don’t want to see a 90 day foreclosure freeze. One of the least mentioned motivations for political action has been racial exclusion. Most of the foreclosures in our city and indeed nationwide are occurring in predominantly African-American neighborhoods. Many of these areas are high in crime. Some white officials would love to see many African-Americans lose their homes, thus opening the way to middle class white ownership in these same properties. They have no interest in giving anyone a break for any length of time. Some progressive elected city officials have decided to do something about the predatory lending practices that are occurring nationwide. The City of Baltimore is suing Wells Fargo for facilitating sub-prime loans to African-American homeowners. The Homeowners haven’t been able to keep up and then they lose their homes. To add insult upon injury they are now strapped with bad credit and any loan that they take out in the future is saddled with an exorbitant interest rate. What sense does it make to charge poor people a higher interest rate than rich people when poor people obviously don’t have as great of an ability to pay back a high interest loan? When corporations get into trouble they run to Dubai to bail them out. Where do the middle class and the poor go for a bailout?
We have to wake up to the fact that there is a war on the middle class, the poor and the working poor in this country. The last expansion of the middle class occurred in the 1950’s. That’s because the New Deal engineered by FDR enabled people of modest means to afford a home, modern appliances and cars. The family vacation became a staple. But after the 1950’s, corporations decided that they wanted to make more. The rich became resentful and thought that even though they made more in our society, they should pay less and furthermore they wanted the middle class to pay more than their fair share of the tax burden.