To be living the American Dream

Dear Kevin:

I said last year that if you look at the statistics, there are five things that you need in order to call yourself “middle class” in America today, to be living the American Dream:

a job;
a home;
health coverage;
a car; and
some kind of pension, retirement plan or 401(k).

Let’s talk for a moment about the second of these, owning a home.

The foreclosure plague is now entering its fifth year. In 2005, there were fewer than 50,000 foreclosure sales in America. By 2008, the number was almost a million, and it has remained close to or more than a million every year since.

Think about it. A million families in America are losing their homes each year. You never hear about it. No one seems to care.

Well, in my district, we attacked foreclosures head-on. We prevailed upon the courts to introduce a mandatory mediation program in Orange County, requiring the bank to sit down with the homeowner and a neutral third-party, to see if there was some way to work things out. After mandatory mediation was enacted, foreclosures dropped by one-half, from 3,000 each month to 1,500 each month in the first year. The program was so successful that it was adopted statewide.

We also found funds for housing counseling in Orlando, and we helped to bring NACA to Central Florida. NACA ( is the largest housing counseling organization in America. It calls its major-city events the “American Dream Tour.” There is one this week in Orlando.

I found that there were very few Members of Congress who were willing to discuss what to do about foreclosures, much less Members who were willing to help. But I could always count on one to listen, and to help. That was Elijah Cummings, from Baltimore.

Why? For two reasons. First, a lot of families in Elijah’s district were facing foreclosure. And second, he gives a damn. He cares.

Last year, Elijah took over as the ranking Democrat on the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform. The first thing that he did was to demand a hearing on the foreclosure crisis, and what we can do to end it.

This year is decennial Crazy Year for Members of Congress; in almost every state, the congressional district borders have changed. As a result, Elijah has drawn two opponents for his primary in Maryland next Tuesday.

I think that we should help Elijah. We have set up a contribution page to do that.

I have said, many times, that we don’t just need more Democrats; we need better ones. Elijah is a very good one. He cares.


Alan Grayson

P.S. Last week, we helped Jesse Jackson, Jr. defeat the former Member of Congress who challenged him in his primary, by 71% to 29%. Jesse says thanks. And so do I.

About eslkevin

I am a peace educator who has taken time to teach and work in countries such as the USA, Germany, Japan, Nicaragua, Mexico, the UAE, Kuwait, Oman over the past 4 decades.
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