It was only 15 years ago. Not quite a generation. The federal budget was nearly balanced, jobs were aplenty, homes were appreciating at about 5 percent a year, there were no wars and people were generally happy with their lives. The good times were rolling!

OK all you tea partiers and wing nuts of the world, here is your test question: Who was our president from 1992 to 2000? No, it wasn't Ronald Reagan. It was Bill Clinton - a Democrat.

Yes, all the haters wanted to discount the Clinton legacy based upon his over-the-top testosterone level. Excuse me Newt Gingrich, would you care to comment?

What former president has ever been as engaged as Clinton in continuing to be a driving force for goodness and positive change in the world years after they left the White House? I guess one could make a good case for former President Jimmy Carter and his work for Habitat for the Humanities and world peace.

The other day Clinton was on NBC's "Today" show where he stated that "the nation could be struggling for the next five years or more to emerge from its economic slump. But focusing on mortgage debt problems could help the recovery."

He went on to say that "the quickest thing we could do to move out of this would be to clear this mortgage debt more quickly."

He called for providing relief to homeowners with mortgage debt greater than the house's worth, either by reducing the amount of debt, adding years to the payoff to reduce monthly payments or converting the loan to rent payments so people can remain in their homes.

We are not going to solve our economic malaise until we finally bring closure to this housing crisis. It has been and continues to be the epicenter of the Great Recession from Day 1.

Even now when the U.S. Justice Department has filed suit against Bank of America and other banks for allegedly defrauding investors for how they repacked home loans as mortgaged-backed securities and sold them on Wall Street as derivatives is disingenuous to American homeowners. The lawsuit is attempting to "make whole" those investors who purchased the derivatives.

Why isn't the Justice Department attempting to "make whole" those homeowners who are drowning in negative equity? The banks are refusing to write down principal balances on these underwater mortgages primarily due to the fact that if they did it would render the derivatives as "junk bonds."

When does a mortgage stop being a mortgage once it becomes a stock? This risky scheme is fraud and homeowners need to be made whole.

Once again, it's time to listen closely to Clinton. Maybe all these candidates running for president, including Obama, can learn a little something about what real leadership is.

• Jon Beydler is a 33-year Valley resident and the former mayor of Fountain Hills who now lives in Chandler

(2) comments

WMJCPA
WMJCPA

It is amazing how quickly revisionist history is created these days. I agree that times were good 15 years ago, but they were also pretty good just 6 or 7 years ago as well. Let us not forget that the greatest sucesses that Bill Clinton achieved was under a Republican Congress, House and Senate. I will admit that Clinton showed a remarkable ability to turn his policies almost 180 degrees following the 1994 mid-terms. From that point came the success track. But behind the scenes, it was Clinton who brokered the repeal of the Glass-Steagal Act. It was Clinton who dusted off the Community Reinvestment Act, and appointed Franklin Raines to head Fannie Mae/Freddie Mac. Thus, it was Clinton who gave birth to the sub-prime mortgage market commencing in about 1997/1998. This was the catalyst that started this snowball rolling downhill. President Bush went to Congress at least 3 times to yank in the reins on Fannie and Freddie, only to be blocked by the likes of Dodd/Frank and Maxine Waters.
So before you pat Bill Clinton on the back too much, maybe we should get out the stick, and turn those love taps into a few good licks. Oh, and Jimmy Carter may have been a great humanitarian when affiliated with Habitat for Humanity, but I think someone must have hit him on the head with a hammer, because as far as I am concerned, he threw all that goodwill away with his blatant anti-semitism.

Lucy
Lucy

Well, I personally think that the first thing you need to do is be honest with yourself and make a list of all the debts you have – including mortgage, personal loans, store cards, cash loans online, credit cards or bank overdrafts. Just calculate the amount you owe and remember that you should update this as the year progresses to track your progress regularly. What is more, if your debt repayments take more than 20% of your net monthly income, than you are entering a danger zone and must take steps to cut back your spending as well. Keep this in mind. Oh, yes, one more option is to transfer debts outstanding on your most expensive form of credit into a cheaper type of finance, like a personal loan.

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