Former President Bill Clinton settled into the comfortable environs of a downtown Oakland barbecue restaurant in Jack London Square today and asked voters to consider his wife's proposal to remedy the nationwide crisis of foreclosures.
Surrounded by Oakland Mayor Ron Dellums and other East Bay political leaders at Everett & Jones Barbeque, Clinton told residents and local supporters of U.S. Sen. Hillary Clinton's presidential campaign that the subprime mortgage crisis represented “a human tragedy,” brought on by economic speculation from investors and failed economic policies of the Bush administration.
In response to Oakland residents facing foreclosure on their homes, Clinton blamed investment banks and hedge funds for purchasing mortgage loans from lenders for profit, and a federal government that borrowed money “like a drunken sailor,” for causing rising interest rates that brought on the inevitable jump in foreclosures.
“Part of the job of the presidency is to understand this stuff in sufficient detail,” Clinton advised.
“We need community-based solutions and the federal government should support it,” Clinton said.
Clinton acknowledged that foreclosures have disproportionately affected people in cities, particularly in black and Hispanic communities.
“We need to stop the bleeding here,” he said.
Hillary Clinton's plan, he said, calls for a freeze on all foreclosures for 90 days, no increases on monthly payments on mortgages for five years, and an immediate package of taxpayer-funded federal grant money for cities, counties and states to stem the tide of foreclosures, before seeking long-term solutions.
“The most expensive way to handle this problem is to let the foreclosures occur,” Clinton said. “The economy will pay more if we let all these mortgages collapse, never mind all the heartbreak to the individual families,” he said.
“People at the local level will figure this out if they have a lot of money to do it,” Clinton said, adding that a cooperative response is needed among government, banks and lenders, and homeowners.
Additional economic stimulus could come from new federal energy policies that create jobs in cities like Oakland for the building of energy-efficient buildings, according to Clinton.
“High school dropouts who can be trained as green-collar workers” would offer a needed boost to Oakland, he said.
“I believe Hillary's got the best plan,” he said, adding that he believed the major players involved in addressing the foreclosure issue would cooperate to support the economic health of the nation.
“In this case, there isn't really any big moneyinterest on the other side of this,” Clinton said.
Thanking Dellums and his hosts, Clinton ungrudgingly agreed to sample the restaurant's fare before departing for his next stop in Napa.
“I come from a place where barbecue is a fine art, so I wanna get some before I leave,” said a smiling Clinton.
— Bay City News