Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Obama answers MOMocrats questions

After being severely disappointed by the trivial questions asked during the last presidential debate, we decided to ask Senator Obama some of our own questions of substance and guess what, he's answered them. I am posting my question and his answer here and you can see all of the questions and answers over at MOMocrats now.

Questions we wished ABC would have asked:
1. From Jen: John Edwards spoke repeatedly about alleviating suffering and poverty for the poorest among us. With 46M people living in poverty and tens of thousands of homeless people in most major cities in our nation, what will be your response in addressing the lack of affordable housing in our nation?
Obama's answer:
Rising poverty is one of the most serious issues facing America today, and I believe that inserting simplistic tag lines or one-dimensional goals are unlikely to be helpful in meeting this challenge. As president, I will build off of my life experiences of fighting poverty and hopelessness as a community organizer, civil rights lawyer and elected official to make poverty eradication a top goal of my administration.

As President, I will increase the supply of affordable housing. In too many communities, low-income families are priced out of the housing market. Between 1993 and 2003, the number of units of affordable to low-income households fell by 1.2 million. I believe we should create an Affordable Housing Trust Fund to develop affordable housing in mixed-income neighborhoods. The Affordable Housing Trust Fund would use a small percentage of the profits of two government-sponsored housing agencies, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, to create thousands of new units of affordable housing every year. I will also restore cuts to public housing operating subsidies, and ensure that all Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) programs are restored to their original purpose.

In addition to addressing the housing crisis, my anti-poverty plan will significantly improve opportunities for millions of poor children and their parents by strengthening the economy for working Americans and providing additional resources to programs that have proven to be effective in reducing poverty. For example, my plan will expand the EITC, which is considered one of the most effective pro-work anti-poverty programs to date, to 5.8 million more Americans. Additionally, my EITC plan will increase EITC benefits for another 6.2 million Americans. I will also extend affordable, quality and portable health insurance coverage to every American and make significant investments in early childhood education to help low-income families. I will invest $1 billion over five years into transitional jobs and career pathways programs to engage more Americans into the workforce and help them succeed. I will also work to tackle chronic poverty in urban neighborhoods across American by creating Promise Neighborhoods in 20 cities to provide new hope and opportunities to residents of concentrated poverty.

Perhaps most importantly, my plan will only focus on strengthening and expanding the most-effective methods for reducing poverty - including taking steps to strengthen families by reducing domestic violence, rewarding fathers who do the right thing and giving parents the right to take time off from work to care for a sick child. That's why my plan includes expanding innovative programs like the Nurse-Family Partnership, a program that has nurses visit and train low-income first-time mothers, because it has been proven to have produced an average of five dollars in savings for every dollar invested and produced more than $28,000 in net savings for every high-risk family enrolled in the program. If my administration finds that one of its anti-poverty programs is not working, that program will be eliminated and funds will be routed to more effective uses.

Jen again:
This is the best, most comprehensive answer to the affordable housing crisis I've heard answered in the presidential campaign so far. This is exactly the type of dialogue we are hungry for so perhaps the mainstream media can take a page from our book next time they host a debate because no one and I mean no one should be asking about flag pins anymore.

If you want to see all of the questions and answers, head over to MOMocrats now.

Edited to say: We also asked the same questions of the Clinton campaign and have yet to hear back.

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painted maypole said...

thanks for asking, and posting this. And I'm so glad you put your feelings about his response at the bottom (you may want to set it apart from his answer so it's a bit clearere we're back to you...) because I consider you an "in the trenches expert" on this, and so hearing you say this makes sense means a lot more than it making sense to me.

go obama!

(and flag pins? are we all the stupid? ack!)

bgirl said...

thanks jen for taking all you do to the next level. this was great.


thailandchani said...

This is the kind of thing I wish would be discussed openly - with a wide audience. This is what voters need to know about - not former relationships with pastors or 60s activists.

Cecilieaux said...

This is quite needed. (See my own post re Rev. Wright today.)

I do some quibbles with the "plan" as articulated here. I wonder what exactly restoring HUD cuts means; even "thousands" of units is not nearly enough. Also, $1 billion for transitional jobs and career paths is a drop in the bucket; if we were spending what Jimmy Carter was spending, adjusted for inflation, we'd be spending $30 billion on this stuff (we're spending $5 billion).

But I do think he's on the right track re EITC.

In any case, I prefer what he's saying to what anyone else is saying. Just let's not get buffaloed, either.

Thanks for jump starting a substantive discussion.

Arwen said...

Was Clinton asked to respond as well? I took a cursory glance at the web site but didn't see anything asking her to answer some of these questions.
To answer Cecilieaux's question about HUD, there used to be programs that allowed people to purchase rental with a lower interest rate or subsidy as long as they rented to people within / below a certain income level. The land lord had a rent cap but the subsidy offset the cap. Although this program still exists it has been slashed so badly it is no longer worth looking into as a way to create affordable housing, which is funny because you would think the republicans would like this type of program (private citizens putting up the capital for neighborhood affordable housing). This program, in particular, was pivotal in the rehab of many neighborhoods in the city I live in, I lived in two apartments that fell under the program. There were a lot of other programs similar that have had their funding taken away.

jen said...

We posed the same questions to the Clinton campaign with no answer yet. We are hopeful they will also respond!

Donvila said...

This guy's never impressed me as a policy wonk. He has a long way to go change my mind.

But nice job GH, getting him to respond. I have to give him credit for that.


Arwen said...

I wish I was surprised the Clinton team didn't respond but I am not. Another reason I like Obama more. Here in NC we are getting lots of visits from the Clintons but I have been out of town every time one of them have been here.

kgirl said...

awesome that he answered at all. how 'bout hil?

Defiantmuse said...

What he says *sounds* great. But they are just words. I'll believe it when I see it.

(and I LIKE Obama)

god. I'm so jaded.

Kyla said...

You rock my face off, you know.

This is good stuff, my friend.

Madge said...

now i'm even more of an obama mama!

Aliki2006 said...

I, too, am so glad you posted this. I'm gearing up for the primaries here in NC next week!

crazymumma said...

I like that he answered the most of all. He is aware of who HIS audience is.

Could you, would you ask the same questions of Hillary?

Amy Y said...

Yes, thank you for sharing this. I really think he is the best man for the job right now... Even if he can only accomplish 1/4th of what I think he wants to, it will be a drastic improvement on what we have currently.

I will go read the rest now :)

carrie said...


Just, WOW. :)

Expatriate Chef said...

Could you slip a question on how much of Hillary Monsanto owns into her unanswered question queue for me? Pulease? But then, she just won't answer that either.

I love Obama, it's been a long time since I've had any hope where politics are concerned. I shook the hand of his potential VP candidate today. She's top notch, too.