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Political Physics: Where is My Bailout Plan?


a blogumn by Monique King-Viehland

(Disclaimer: Today’s blogumn is a rant and will be the last time I mention bailout this century)

When Ernessa asked to me write a blogumn for Fierce & Nerdy she was very clear that she wanted a blogumn that was thesis based with data as opposed to just me ranting (which I also do very well).  Up until now I have really felt like I have stuck to the formula as promised.  Oh, but today I must digress.

Warning!  Again, I plan to launch into a very short rant inspired by a series of events over the past seven days, so if you are looking for my normal “Political Physics” please discontinue reading and check back next week.

bubbleLast Wednesday, my husband Brian was bursting with excitement as he shared that our retirement fund has gained a few thousand dollars during this quarter.  I remember when we started saving in our twenties our investment guy was so impressed.  He kept talking about how when you put money to work for you sooner, you let the power of compounding make a bigger contribution to your retirement investments.  A few thousand dollars is a lot of money, so do not get me wrong.  But, since last year the fund has dropped more than 50% and I am not sure it has leveled out yet.

As I mentioned previously in my February 22nd blogumn entitled “The Jigsaw Approach to Dealing with the Economic Crisis,” state workers in NJ are being forced to take one furlough day a month for fourteen months (the remaining two months of this fiscal year and all of next fiscal year).  On Friday, we received the official notice of what days we will be taking off (e.g., May 22nd, June 26th, etc.) and as the Executive Director it was my job to make sure each member of staff got their respective letters and signed an acknowledgment form.  There were a lot jokes about “getting blood from a stone” as everyone signed, but the despondency was unmistakable.

When I returned to my office and did the math, it did not get much better.  Those 14 days represent about a 5.4% reduction in my salary or about $6K.  I keep wondering if we will have enough money to start a 529 plan for Sekou like we had planned or finish the bathroom remodel that we started (my first floor bathroom has no toilet, sink, etc.).

Then another Monday passed (this is the ninth one) with no word from Wells Fargo on our application to refinance.  Like everyone else we have been watching the interest rates drop and reading about all of the federal assistance from homeowners and hey, now we can refinance and save a few hundred (much needed) bucks, right?  We even planned to stick with our existing bank, since they just gave us a loan about a year and a half ago. We have made consistent payments and our credit is great.  To our surprise Wells Fargo is not interested in refinancing our loan.  Not just because they do not want to lose the extra 2% compounded over 30 years, but also because they’re asserting that our house is actually worth less than it was a year and a half ago.

In all seriousness, where the hell is my bailout package?

We have done everything we’re supposed to – jumped into the American Dream (responsibly), starting saving for retirement, etc., and yet we are so screwed.  And it is not fair and I am pissed.

My outrage is only compounded when I’m reading in the Wall Street Journal that “Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac expect to pay about $210 million in retention bonuses to 7,600 employees over 18 months” and that the maximum retention bonus for any individual executive under the plan could total $1.5 million over 18 months.  What?!?

I am angry.

There is a lot of debate about whether or not the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 actually helps those of us outside of Wall Street.

For me, right now the answer to that question is clear.

. photo credit: d ha rm e sh