Economic anxiety, job losses and home foreclosures are too real for too many Americans. Stimulus I was a top down bail out for the big banks. These Stimulus I “beneficiaries” are now reaping record profits and issuing record executive bonuses again. The Stimulus I targeted big banks, who happened to be the leading predators that brought on the crisis. Yet, they still will not make a structural adjustment to open up lending, and to stop the hemorrhage of foreclosures, job losses, student loan debt and the impact of rising property tax hikes on the ground.
The Stimulus I watered the leaves but did not get down to the roots - Wall Street is rebounding and rising, while the middle class is sinking, plants are closing, jobs are leaving, poverty is expanding, and violence increasing.
In Chicago the Attorney General has filed lawsuits on major banks for targeting, steering and clustering sub prime loans to people of color, and driving foreclosures. Her analysis includes a huge discrimination factor: Blacks and Browns making over $100,000 steered to high priced sub prime loans, while whites making $50,000 were getting low cost prime loans.
The same people hit with record foreclosures are now facing property tax hikes of up to 30%. They live in the poorest and most critical areas, yet the tax hikes for others is some cases is less than 5%.
These same neighborhood zones have the highest unemployment, shortest life expectancy, and the poorest performing schools. Their hopes are diminishing.
Stimulus II must stimulate excitement at the bottom; just as Stimulus I excited the financial markets at the top on Wall Street.
Chicago could be ground zero for Stimulus II – we face depression level unemployment; increasing numbers of families losing their homes; youth violence and abounding pain – Chicago requires immediate attention:
1. the Attorney General can challenge the patterns of race discrimination in the foreclosure crisis, combat fraud and restore fair lending;
2. the banks have been bailed out now must restructure loans and not repossess homes. We need a foreclosure moratorium until that structure is in order.
3. we need job preservation, skill development and job creation. It may be retrofitting old homes, building new ones; it may be small business favorable to community investment. It may be student borrowers getting the same loan rates the banks get
We need help with a Stimulus II, our voices will be heard.
The Rainbow PUSH Coalition is a progressive organization devoted to protecting, defending and expanding civil rights to improve economic and educational opportunity. The organization is headquartered at 930 E. 50th St. in Chicago. To learn more, please visit www.rainbowpush.org or call (773) 373-3366. To arrange an interview with Rev. Jackson, please call the numbers listed above.