With a week to go before the end of voting in the August 7th Republican primary in the7th Congressional District, Tom Leatherwood's insurgent campaign against GOP incumbent Marsha Blackburn got a new boost from a traditionally Republican voting bloc. The 15 past presidents of the Memphis Area Association of Home Builders have called for Blackburn's defeat in an open letter protesting her vote against the bipartisan Housing Stimulus Act.
Text of the letter is as follows:
Fellow Members of MAHBA:
The 15 Past Presidents of the Memphis Area Association of Home Builders, whose names you find below, ask that you vote against Congresswoman Marsha Blackburn in the upcoming primary election.
When President Bush signed the Housing Stimulus Act into law, months of concerted effort by many groups and individuals culminated in an important victory for homebuilders. A victory desperately needed by those of us in the beleaguered housing industry. This piece of legislation holds real promise to revive our struggling industry and may determine whether some of the businesses which belong to our association survive the current downturn.
While we are elated at the passage of this bill we are very disappointed that Marsha Blackburn chose to vote against it and our interests. Compounding our disappointment is the fact that members of MAHBA met with Congresswoman Blackburn on numerous occasions to explain in detail our support for this legislation.
Marsha Blackburn's vote on this issue clearly demonstrates that we cannot count on her to look out for the interests of homebuilders or for those who rely upon the home building industry to earn their living. We need real friends in Congress, representatives who share our concerns and understand the importance of homebuilding to the
economy. Congresswoman Blackburn does not deserve the support or
votes of the members of MAHBA.
Please demonstrate your dissatisfaction with her vote against the Housing Stimulus Act by voting for Tom Leatherwood in the Republican primary.
In a press release last week, Blackburn defended her vote against the measure as follows:
Blackburn Statement on Housing Bill
Bill Came With Deeply Flawed Policy and a Very High Price Tag
WASHINGTON - Rep. Marsha Blackburn (TN-7) joined every one of her Republican colleagues in Tennessee in voting against HR 3221, the Housing Rescue and Foreclosure Prevention Act of 2008. While the bill offers some assistance to homeowners and homebuilders, it also has deep flaws and an astronomic price tag.
"This was a very difficult vote for me; I agonized over it until the last minute. I know well how desperately homeowners in Tennessee need and deserve relief; I also know how urgently we need to bring stability to the housing market. Unfortunately, this bill violated almost every good government instinct in my soul. I fear that, all too soon, provisions in it will do far more harm than good and tie Congress's hands when intervention is needed most."
The bill now goes to the Senate with 152 no votes in the House, which would have been enough to sustain a Presidential veto.
What Was Wrong With The Housing Bill:
· Tax Increases. The bill contains two multi-billion-dollar tax increases and a controversial credit-card reporting provision.
· Government Sponsored Enterprise (GSE) Bailout: Congressman Blackburn believes strongly that Frannie and Freddie May must be supported, but this legislation is deeply flawed. The bailout would give the Treasury Department a blank check in a complete abdication of Congressional oversight responsibility. At the same time the bailout could put taxpayers on the hook for as much as $5 trillion dollars worth of risk - an amount larger than the economy of every single country in the world except the United States or China. This enormous federal investment in GSEs does not clearly state conditions under which the bailout is to be allowed.
· Affordable Housing Trust Fund: This new permanent funding source for federal public housing would siphon money from the financially strapped GSEs and direct it towards politically motivated advocacy groups, with no room for Congressional oversight. These groups, like La Raza and ACORN, have a history of partisan political activity and are under investigation for voter fraud, embezzlement, and other potentially fraudulent activities.
· Subprime Lender Bailout: The legislation also establishes a $300 billion program to prop up lending institutions largely responsible for the subprime crisis. In so doing, the bill allows some lenders to recoup losses by transferring liability from their riskiest loans to the federal government.
· Expanding Governments' Landlord Role: The bill also transfers $4 billion to a grant program allowing state and local governments to purchase and rehab foreclosed property, promoting government ownership of private property. This perverse provision creates new landlord roles for local and state governments, in an attempt to expand the size and scope of government.