It was 4 a.m. I couldn’t sleep and so I got up and went upstairs to my home office and began searching the MLS for appropriate homes to show my weekend clients. Then the phone rang.
Me: “This is Ken Calhoon, may I help you?”
Caller: “Yes Mr. Calhoon. Would you please hold for the president.”
It wasn’t a question.
I knew this was my friend Dustin, setting me up for another one of his practical jokes. He probably had someone in his office making the call. Now he was going to come on the line and ask for a $10,000 campaign donation.
Caller: “Hello, Ken, this is the president. Your Congressmen, Tom McClintock, has been forwarding me your real estate columns published in the Mountain Democrat. You’re just the person I need to help me solve the housing problem and get this country back to work. Now, Tom and I don’t agree on many issues but we both agree that the country needs your help.”
It wasn’t Dustin pulling a prank, it was the president.
Me: “Mr. President, I am honored that you called me. What can I do?”
The president: “In a few days I will be attending a community organizing meeting in Las Vegas. I need ideas on solving our housing situation. Your suggestions must take into consideration that I am working with a ‘Do Nothing Congress’ that won’t ‘invest in the future’ of this country and provide funding for ‘needed programs.’ Programs that don’t benefit ‘millionaires and billionaires’ or any corporate jet owners. Programs that create ‘jobs, jobs jobs.’”
Skilled salesmen like me think on their feet quickly when responding to questions and situations from their clients. My response to the president would require all my knowledge and experience. The entire country was depending on me. It was imperative that I articulate my proposals with accuracy and conviction.
The president: “I knew I could count on your support. E-mail me those suggestions to my teleprompter. I will work them into my speech to the good folks in Las Vegas. Thank you for your service and God Bless America.”
OK, it was up to me. The president and the entire country was waiting. The financial Wall Street giants, the Federal Reserve and millions of homeowners depended on me to outline programs that would save the country. I began to type.
Dear Mr. President:
Here are a few proposals for your new housing “strategy.”
Obama Mortgage. The mortgage companies and Wall Street bankers played a major role in the collapse of our housing and financial markets. They are doing very little to assist Main Street Americans with its recovery. America deserves better. Qualifying for a loan is too difficult, appraisals are too low and the bank’s ATM fees and credit card charges are too high. America needs another option. All Americans should be entitled to affordable financial services. Obama Mortgage would serve as a safety net for those working families like teachers, correctional officers and members of the SEIU. Financial care is not an option. It is a right.
Appoint Bernie Madoff to lead Fannie Mae. Bernie Madoff, former president of WorldCom and permanent resident of Butner Federal Prison, should receive a presidential pardon and be appointed CEO of Fannie Mae. Madoff goes to jail, convicted of running a Ponzi scheme and losing $50 billion of investor’s money. That’s peanuts in comparison with Franklin Rains, former CEO of Fannie Mae, who lost $75 billion in taxpayers’ money and billions more by fleecing stock and bondholders. When Franklin Rains retired he took a $240 million bonus. A year later, Fannie Mae defaults on their debts and is placed into receivership. Madoff goes to jail. Go figure. Our country needs the creativity and entrepreneur spirit exemplified in men like Madoff and Rains, whose vision and leadership makes this country so great.
Drill Baby Drill. Suspend all state and federal drilling and mining regulation on all properties. If any homeowner wants to drill for oil or natural gas on their own property they should be allowed to do so. This would not only increase our domestic supply of energy but would create millions of good paying jobs. Homeowners would benefit from the extra royalty income and land values would increase.
Subsidize builders and developers. An oversupply of housing inventory continues to plague the market’s full recovery. With so many foreclosures, we don’t need to be building any new homes for a long time. Builders have been severely impacted and are anxious to get back to work. That should be discouraged. We need to offer builders cash incentives for not building homes just as we do with farmers for not growing crops or foresters for not harvesting timber.
Freeze all foreclosures. Since the federal government owns Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac and FHA, you have the authority to freeze all foreclosures. If owners want to stay in their homes and are unable to make the payment, so what? Let them. Take title and possession of the home when they die or move. By that time values will have increase sufficiently to sell the home for a profit.
“Are you sleeping at your desk?” It was my wife Vicki, who startled me out of my nap.
“Don’t you have better things to do with your time than napping at your desk?”
“Yes,” I said, “I’m solving the housing problem and saving the country.”