Rebuilder,You've probably seen a lot of stories this week about how Mitt Romney just lost the election by choosing Paul Ryan for his running mate. I think those thoughts are dangerously misplaced. Here's why:Ryan is THE most effective weapon the other side has. He makes the argument for austerity with passion, poise and skill. He is a true believer. Vice President Biden better eat his Wheaties before the debate.If they win, they can claim a clear mandate to destroy everything that made the American Dream possible. And even if they lose, they'll shift the debate to the right so that any December ‘grand bargain’ will only cut Medicare a little instead of a lot. They'll have the whole country thinking America is "broke," when the truth is that a handful of the super-rich are bleeding us dry and cutting the net out from under the middle class.Here’s the real truth: America is NOT broke, America is Being Robbed.We can prevail. But we have to bring our A game. We need to defeat their arguments, not push watered-down alternatives. So today, we're launching a BIG campaign to get this message out there: America is Being Robbed.Americans already suspect the game is rigged against them. They're just looking for who to blame, and who has a plan to fix things. We've got a chance to break through. We need to frame the terms of the debate and win the war of ideas. If we don't, even a victory in November won't stop the worst of the 1% from tearing down the American Dream.So here's our plan. From now through the election and on into December, we will:Engage artists to change public opinion. We won't persuade people with more fact sheets and numbers. We need to organize artists and musicians to create inspiring projects that expose how Americans are being robbed every day by banks, corporations and the politicians that they own.Make it an election issue. Get candidates to go on the record on our issues by filling out the 99Elect questionnaire, and use campaigns and in-district events to show which candidates are willing to help stop the robbery (even if they need a push sometimes) -- and which ones are driving the getaway car.Expose the villains and lift up the victims. Expose the people who are dodging taxes, taking subsidies and ripping us off. We'll use advertising and public pressure, and tirelessly work the media to put the heartbreaking stories of their victims front and center.Educate and explain. The right uses complexity as a weapon of deception to hide how a handful of people are robbing America. We're going to share graphics, videos, and stories, and provide you the tools to tell this story in your community with online message trainings led by some of the best progressive communicators in the business.Are you in? We need to raise $100,000 for a multi-month campaign of this magnitude. Even $10 today will help, big time.The most eye-opening part of my job is getting to meet and talk to so many people. We talk in airports, in church basements, in coffee shops. They tell me about losing the homes they raised their kids in. Picking up groceries at the food bank they used to give to. Struggling to make rent because they were scammed into a student loan with all sorts of extra fees.Wanting to work. Begging to work. But finding no jobs because big corporations are hoarding profits instead of hiring and Washington D.C. just doesn't seem to care.Somehow, Washington has made the whole conversation about budget numbers. But it's not. It's about people who are hurting. We can never forget that. We CANNOT back down.Thanks,Van, and the rest of the Rebuild the Dream teamWe're super excited to start telling this story. For more on how America is being robbed check out this video from Van's speech last year at the Rebuild the Dream event in NYC:
Gabby Douglas won gold, but faced financial obstacles on her road to London.
Our Olympic athletes put everything on the line to represent the United States of America.When the country cheers on our Olympians, we can forget that they face many of the same problems as millions of Americans on their path to achieving their Olympic Dreams.Bronze Medal Gymnast Danell Leyva lost his home to foreclosure in 2010. His parents were living in Florida, the state second hardest-hit by foreclosures after the collapse of the housing bubble. The Leyva family owed over $326,000 on a home that later sold for $141,800. His step-father, a former gymnast and coach, describes how he lost half his students during the housing collapse:
"I was in a hard situation, like everybody else, three or four years ago when the housing market collapsed," he told the magazine. "We live in Miami where most people’s business is real estate, so we lost about 50 percent of our students. We looked at the students who were really good in gymnastics but whose parents were struggling now, and told them to pay us whatever they could each week: If you can pay 20 bucks, pay me 20 bucks. If you can pay 10 bucks, pay 10 bucks. And when things get better, we’ll go back to normal and you don’t have to pay me what you owe me; we’ll just start over."
Leyva isn't the only Olympian affected by Florida's housing bust. Swimming star Ryan Lochte's parents are facing foreclosure. Even America's sweetheart, gymnast Gabby Douglas, has been affected by the economic downturn. Her mother filed for bankruptcy earlier this year. Most of her debt came from a mortgage on modest home in Virginia.Millions of homeowners across the country are still suffering from the economic collapse. It isn't just a few over-leveraged homes, it's everyone -- even the Olympians we'll be cheering on tonight.
On a Thursday conference call co-hosted [by] Sierra Club, United Steelworkers and the group Rebuild the Dream, DeMarco was targeted as the top impediment to mortgage and environmental reforms."One person is now standing in the way," Van Jones, Rebuild the Dream president and former White House adviser, said.The Hill:
Beyond blocking efforts to boost the housing market, the groups contend that DeMarco is also holding back a broader recovery that could be driven by the housing relief. They contend that if homeowners are given more relief, they will be able to pump more money into the economy."This guy has got to go," said Leo Gerard, international president of the United Steelworkers. "He's bad for the economy."Huffington Post:
"You could have the biggest stimulus program in America by getting rid of one person," Van Jones, president and co-founder of the progressive group Rebuild the Dream and former White House adviser, said Thursday. "He is single-handedly holding up tens of thousands of jobs.""This is the only issue that I can remember that Timothy Geithner and Paul Krugman both agree on," Jones added.Also, don't miss Arianna Huffington's amazing blog post where she talks about how the Presidential candidates aren't paying attention to the housing crisis and the thousands of struggling underwater voters.
It started with a tweet back in June.
Can we move on from the Edwards trial and spend DOJ time investigating bankers already?— nataliefoster (@nataliefoster) June 1, 2012
At the close of the Edwards Trial, our CEO Natalie Foster tweeted that the Department of Justice should move on to bankers who crashed our economy now that Edwards is done. That struck a chord. A couple Rebuilders asked, "Why doesn’t the Justice Department look into wrongdoing by the banks that crashed our economy?"Rebuild the Dream launched a petition where over 70,000 Rebuilders responded and asked the Department of Justice to investigate the bankers who played a role in crashing our economy in 2008.Yesterday, we published the ad in the National Journal where DC insiders could see it. Check it out.
"More than 85,000 Rebuild the Dream members have signed a petition calling on President Obama to fire Acting Director DeMarco, and thousands more have made phone calls to the White House. We value the administration's continued pressure on DeMarco to embrace principal reductions -- including Treasury's repeated offers to provide assistance and incentives -- but the time for more forceful action has come. This community will continue demanding that our leaders provide real hope to homeowners, including principal reductions that will keep families in their homes and expanded refinancing options that will save millions of homeowners hundreds each month."- Ian Kim, Managing Director of Rebuild the DreamWant to catch up on the news surrounding Ed DeMarco? We have a miniature roundup ready for you:
- New York Times Columnist Paul Krugman writes, not one, but two editorials calling to fire DeMarco.
- Even Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner writes a strongly worded letter opposing DeMarco's decision.
- Politico points out many progressive groups, including Rebuild the Dream, want DeMarco gone.
- Slight humble-brag: Our CEO Natalie Foster was mentioned in articles in the Huffington Post and San Francisco Chronicle
- And yes, it is absolutely possible for Barack Obama to replace Ed DeMarco.
Wow. After Ed DeMarco announced that he would block any plan helping millions of homeowners through principle reduction, Rebuilders stood up. Over 115,000 have signed our petition calling on President Obama to fire Ed DeMarco and over 25,000 have signed up in the last 24 hours!Check out the email by our CEO, Natalie Foster, and join the call: Fire DeMarco!
Rebuilder,Remember Ed DeMarco, the acting director of the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA), which regulates the government mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac? He's back in the news.DeMarco is the Bush appointee who has been dragging his heels and blocking Fannie and Freddie from engaging in targeted principal reductions (resetting home loans to fair market value) for struggling, underwater homeowners on the grounds that it would cost the taxpayers too much.Today, two things happened. First, FHFA produced a study that said principal reductions would actually save taxpayers more than a billion dollars. And then DeMarco announced that he still wouldn't allow any principal reductions!1Tell President Obama: If DeMarco won't change his mind, he needs to change jobs. Fire him now!Almost 90,000 of you have already called for DeMarco to be fired. And President Obama is listening -- his administration has pushed DeMarco to drop his opposition and offered the Treasury Department's help to Fannie and Freddie in making it all work. Today, Secretary Geithner even released a letter challenging DeMarco's logic and calling on him to change his mind.2It's important to know we've got allies in the White House. But while homeowners are still struggling to hang on to the homes where they've built lives and lasting memories... it's just not enough. DeMarco needs to go.DeMarco is now officially out of arguments. Principal reductions are the most direct way of helping people whose home values plummeted after the banks crashed the economy, but are left owing those same banks thousands more than their homes are worth. They would save taxpayers money by preventing losses from default and foreclosure. The program is already designed to weed out people who don't really need help -- in fact, the bigger problem is that it's not broad enough!And most importantly, this would keep families from losing their homes! This is nothing more than callous, cold-hearted opposition to something that would help millions of real people instead of banks.Add your name now.This fight over homeowners is the epicenter of the huge debate going on in our nation today. At question is whether our government works for big banks, or for the middle class... and we need our leaders to pick the right side.Let's go,Natalie and the rest of the Rebuild the Dream TeamSources:1) "Regulator Rebuffs Obama on Plan to Ease Housing Debt," NY Times - 7/31.2) "Letter from Secretary Geithner to Acting FHFA Director DeMarco," U.S. Treasury Department - 7/31.
Yesterday, Rebuilders from across the country spoke up for homeowners and demanded a vote to force banks to allow responsible homeowners to refinance their mortgages at today’s record-low interest rates.Hundreds of calls have been reported so far! If you haven’t already please take 60 seconds to call your senator and demand they pass this commonsense bill before the August recess.Here's yesterday's email from Ian in case you missed it:
Rebuilder,This week Rebuilders in swing states are delivering tens of thousands of your signatures to local Senate offices, demanding that Congress force banks to allow responsible homeowners to refinance their mortgages at today’s record-low interest rates.Homeowners are in serious trouble, while banks rake in record profits and Congress sits on its hands. Our efforts have definitely got their attention, but right now, we’re hearing conflicting reports about Congress's willingness to pass this legislation. So we don’t know for sure what they plan to do.If we can force a vote, it will help make the housing crisis an election year issue. So we need to figure out -- fast -- where the Senate stands, because we only have one week before Congress goes on recess. After that the only thing they will care about is the November election.Can you take 60 seconds to call your senators to find out their position on homeowner relief legislation?Just click here to go to our call page. We have all the information you need, including:
We're sending this message to enough people to get about 5 phone calls per senate office, which should be just enough to get the information we need. And along the way, we'll also send a clear signal that everyday voters really care about this solution. That could be enough to force a vote.This is a commonsense proposal that will keep folks in their homes. There’s no reason Congress shouldn’t pass this -- but we all know how Washington works.If we can just force a vote, however, then the millions of 'Underwater Voters' will know who to hold accountable in November for Washington's inaction.Click here to go to our call page and let us know where your Senators stand on homeowner relief legislation.Speak up today and let them know you're paying attention, that you vote, and that you'll remember what they did (or didn't do) while people were losing their homes.Thanks,Ian and the Rebuild the Dream team
- Your senators' phone numbers
- A quick script for what questions to ask (the whole call should take under a minute)
- A form where you can report back what you found out
Rebuilders are delivering over 30,000 signatures to Senate offices in Ohio, Maine, Florida and Massachusetts as part of the Hope for Homeowners campaign.Why? To demand Congress force banks to let responsible homeowners refinance their mortgages at today's low interest rates. The package of home mortgage relief legislation (S. 3085, S. 2909, S. 3407) will pave the way for responsible homeowners to reduce their monthly bills and stay in their homes.Patricia in Massachusetts and Faye in Maine were two of the first to deliver their petitions. Faye is a retired grandmother who originally bought her currently underwater home to be closer to her grandchildren. After being laid off from her job, her little house isn't becoming the nice retirement home she planed. Patricia is a single mom and an underwater homeowner who has lived in her home for eight years with excellent credit and current mortgage payments. Both these rebuilders would benefit from the lower payments from interest rate reduction on their homes through the home mortgage relief bills.
Faye in Maine: "Delivering the petitions felt like an honor. The responsibility was daunting. Senator Snowe's office was most gracious, and even helpful.Area Representative for York County, Peter Morin was most accommodating, but the delivery of the petitions to Senator Collins' office into the hands of her office representative met with a more non-committal response.I am grateful to have been able to provide some support and " voice" for the under- represented, and challenged folks of Maine whose housing values have been so crushed. We all deserve better."
Patricia in Massachusetts: "Like millions of other Americans, my home is underwater and at risk of foreclosure.If I had the ability to refinance my mortgage I could save hundreds of dollars a month -- and my son and I could stay in our home. But even though I haven’t missed a payment in six years, I’m unable to get any relief.However, a few months ago I received an email from Rebuild the Dream asking me to share my housing story. Last week I delivered thousands of signatures in support of Hope for Homeowners legislation to Senator Scott Brown along with a letter sharing my story and explaining how the bills would help me and my family.When I went to Bank of America to discuss my loan and see if I was eligible to refinance, they told me they no longer held my loan and directed me to Fannie Mae -- who has ignored my repeated attempts to reach them. But when I delivered thousands of signatures to Senator Scott Brown’s office, it got his attention. His staff followed up immediately offering to help and to strongly consider supporting the legislation currently before Congress.Too often voices like mine get ignored while the big banks always find an open door. That’s why the work Rebuild the Dream is doing is so important.I know I’m not the only one like this. Lots of people are suffering, and the banks aren’t helping, and we have to do something to help people out, or else they’re going to lose their homes."