Less than 80 days away from the 2012 presidential election, we face a unique moment in time. We have an opportunity to stand up for underwater homeowners across America -- and in so doing, fix the housing crisis and save the economy.
But the silence from our presidential candidates on this critical issue is deafening.
Underwater homeowners, people who owe more on their home then what it is worth, have had their lives ripped apart. The blame falls squarely on Wall Street fraud that crashed our economy just a few years ago. But while the banks prosper because taxpayers bailed them out, millions of homeowners are now faced with their entire life savings gone, the fear of foreclosure looming over their heads, and the enormous uncertainty of whether they can provide for their children keeping them awake at night.
Just watch the stories of Cathy, Yesenia and Mark to feel the heartbreak. But as these underwater voters warn, President Obama and Governor Romney ignore the 16 million underwater homeowners across the country at their own peril.
Underwater voters are the single most underestimated swing voting bloc in the country. For example, in Nevada alone, 35% of eligible voters are underwater. To put these numbers in perspective: there are 614,987 eligible underwater voters in Nevada. President Obama won Nevada in 2008 with 533,736 votes.
Wall Street is pouring hundreds of millions of dollars into 2012 election cycle. Their influence is palpable. That's why we must lift up the power and voices of underwater voters this election season to new heights and make sure the presidential candidates are accountable to us, not Wall Street.
To do just that, The New Bottom Line is launching 'Home Is Where The Vote Is', a campaign calling on both President Obama and Governor Romney to provide the bold solutions needed to save our families, communities and ultimately, the American economy. The presidential candidates will hear from underwater voters in swing-states as they travel through the country. Homeiswherethevoteis.com features the stories of underwater voters, and invites millions of underwater homeowners to share their own, and lets homeowners and supporters directly contact both presidential campaigns.
It could be pretty easy to look at underwater homeowners across the country and think, "I feel awful for them, but this doesn't really impact me." Wrong. If we fix the housing crisis, we can create jobs and reset our economy. Nationally, there are 16 million underwater homes, a total of $1.2 trillion underwater. Resetting those mortgages to fair market value would save the average underwater homeowner $543 per month, pumping $104 billion into the national economy every year and creating 1.5 million jobs nationally. The bold and necessary solutions are clear, and have been advocated for by economists on both ends of the political spectrum.
This week, President Obama renewed his call for refinance bills sitting in the Senate, amidst getting slammed in the New York Timesfor his administration's failure to fully address the the housing crisis in his first term. While easing barriers to refinance will help some people get a lower payment, none of the refi proposals in Congress right now do anything about the crushing debt of underwater homeowners holding our entire economy down. Refinance gets us to first base, but is no home run. The President is passing over the solutions he and his Administration can immediately implement and abdicating responsibility to a do-nothing Congress.
Meanwhile, Governor Romney, might just be fairing worse. His response to fixing the housing? Let foreclosures hit bottom. That speaks for itself.
The Underwater Voter is the Soccer Mom of 2012 -- speak to them, they are tens of million strong -- and our political candidates need to earn their vote. It's been half a decade since Wall Street drove our economy to the edge, and for far too many it is a never ending recession. The candidate who speaks to Mark in Ohio and Yesenia in Nevada and Cathy in Colorado -- those are the winners. Mr. Obama and Mr. Romney, will that be you? What's your plan for the underwater vote?