An Open Letter to President Elect Barack Obama on the Fiscal Stimulus Package

  • Published on November 7th, 2008

Obama renewable energyEditor’s Note: This op-ed was written by students from the Presidio School of Management including Steve Pierson, Kaytea Petro, Lina Constantinovici and Brian Bishop. It does not represent the views of the institution.

First of all, congratulations on your resounding win! Many of us campaigned tirelessly for you, and we opened our doors and our hearts to join you in celebration last night. This is a great victory we will savor for years to come!

Americans have heard a great deal about hope and change during this election season. Together, those two words evoke a compelling vision for the future of our nation. Once the election is over, the questions for our policy makers (at all levels) will be how to move the nation towards this positive future, especially in the face of an economically challenged present.

One major obstacle that you will face is the snowballing foreclosure rate. Today, three of every hundred homes with mortgages are in foreclosure. Waves of layoffs and business closures follow close on the heels of these foreclosures. Public confidence that they elected the right team to effect a positive future may soon fade, replaced with a grim downturn on Main Street: the main artery through our American towns.
Over-dependence on foreign oil and the effects of global climate change represent immediate threats to the prosperity of our nation. In response, your campaign promised action toward energy independence and investment in green energy technology and solutions. At first glance, the economic crisis may seem like an impediment to these investments. But we, students at Presidio School of Management, would like to suggest a response to address these two challenges.

The federal government is already committed to creating a substantial economic stimulus program – the specifics are yet to be defined. The federal government has already taken ownership of a great many “toxic” mortgages. Why not do the following:

  • Design substantial tax incentives for residential energy and water efficiency improvements such as efficient windows, weather stripping, efficient lighting, insulation for attics, walls, pipes and water heaters, low-flow toilets and showerheads. The short-term goal would be to give a boost to local building and home improvement businesses, injecting capital into an industry that has been experiencing rough times for over a year. The benefit for the homeowner of this investment will be comfortable homes that use less energy, lowered utility bills, and have increased property values. The long term effect for local communities will be that we will have invested significantly in our infrastructure, reducing our need to build new power plants, dams or implement water rationing to our thirsty farms.
  • Offer attractive renegotiation packages to homeowners who are struggling with disastrous mortgages, but make the most attractive options contingent upon energy efficiency improvements to the property. Provide generous credits or subsidies to minimize out-of-pocket cost, and roll the rest of the cost into a renegotiated mortgage. If mortgage-holders need to be rescued anyway, why not leverage the plan to boost local jobs and businesses and help America achieve energy independence?
  • These efficiency incentives could be offered to commercial real estate owners and local governments as well. In this way, all sectors of society can benefit from the tax incentives and the reduced operating cost created by the efficiencies.

Together, these programs directly target Main Street businesses, jobs, and homes. They also will dramatically reduce our nation’s energy consumption and global warming emissions. Buildings represent a huge portion of our total energy usage, and efficiency improvements are extremely cost effective, especially in older and more modest homes. But this plan does not only stop there, it is a cogent economic stimulus plan.

After September 11, Americans were told to go shopping to keep the economy going; seven years later, we do need to spend money to keep our economy going, but we need to spend it in a way that it benefits American businesses and jobs. Spending money on energy and water efficiency improvements means living-wage local jobs (home improvement projects can’t be outsourced to China), local purchases of supplies, not to mention long-term reduced cost of living, reduced carbon release, and more stable economies.

We believe that utilizing our current crisis as a crucible to drive the affordable energy solutions of tomorrow makes perfect sense: Homeowners get to stay in homes with reinforced property value. “Joe the Insulator” and his crew have thriving work instead of a hard downturn. And America enjoys more prosperity and increased energy independence. These solutions create jobs today, get the economy back on track for all Americans, and set the stage for America’s next Golden Age.

Once again, congratulations. We believe it more than ever: Yes We Can.

About the Author

is passionate about the new green economy and renewable energy. Sarah's experience includes work with small-scale solar energy installations and utility-scale wind farms. She earned an MBA in sustainable management from the Presidio Graduate School and is a co-founder of Trees Across the Miles, an urban reforestation initiative. When she can escape the internet vortex, she enjoys playing in the forest, paddling down rivers, or twisting into yoga poses.


  • PLEASE LISTEN TO THE AMERICAN PEOPLE…… As a citizen I do not believe this stimulus package is going to help anything. Giving money to banks is not helping revive the economy. Banks, corproate america WASTE everything they receive. I think you should give the money back to the American people. In the Form of Loans not free money loans that reduce the monthly cost of mortgages. If the American people have more money coming into their homes they spend more. As it stands today banks have made it hard for working Americans to buy houses. We the American people are suffering because of their mistakes. I know this as I have made a mortgage payment the last 6 years of my life. Due to divorce I need to refinance and the payment will be the same basically and banks say I cant have the loan as I dont have the money to pay it yet I have paid if for the last 6 years on my income. YOU PAY YOUR BILLS FIRST why I can make my payments on less income. Refinance loans should be available to people like me and I know there are numerous women in this country in the same boat. Government should offer affordable loans to all American people who work everyday. This puts money back into the economy and gives every american equal share not just the poor or the rich. Which will in effect help our economy. In the world of Nature if a Lion eats an antelope it is the way of life. A bank that folds should go under and our government should bail out the American people with the FDIC insurance. Not the faultering bank which waste money. I have heard the words thrown around about Nationalizinig banks to that I am not sure I back that Idea as America is built on Free Trade but I do believe a government bank should come into play and cause the other banks to have to fight to get customers. Its the American way. If companies want your business they need to make it more appetizing for the American people by offering deals to sale there product/services etc. And another big mistake is extending unemployment so long…. Growing up in this country I know people who will not work and draw unemployment for as long as they can. Your not helping the American people by extending unemployment. Help them by finding ways to provide jobs and help our country. Provide money to make cars that dont need oil, provide money to come up with ways to cut cost of heating our homes, get us away from dependency on oil. WE have the technology to do this stop holding it back from the American people. Dont bury the next generation with the debt you are throwing at our country the so called stimulus package which will not help anymore then the last stimulus package is going to hurt the next generation. If you want to help the medical crisis regulate the prices the medical industry can charge. I have a broken leg which I will be in a cast until April 5 months I will be out of work. with medical coverage of a state insurance it is anazing how much treatment is costing me. I look at my bills and get angry an xray which I have to have every 4 weeks is billed at more then a 100.00 my insurance pays 18.00 they accept that. How can they get such a reduction and an self-employed person is not allowed the same treatment they have to cover the full 100.00. Isnt there a better way to equal this cost and give every American the same benefits. Even with insurance I am billed more money over what my insurance pays, as a child I remember as a doctor if you accepted the health care insurance plans you accepted their allowable charge. Now you pass the remaining charge onto the patient. Wheres the justice in that. I pay a premium to have the insurance to be covered and I am still not taken care of 100%. GREED runs America….. Being unemployed due to my injury for almost half a year I am managing my money I receive and paying my bills. Yes my lifestyle has been reduced a little but I am eating, I am warm and I am making it on my own two feet. That is what being an American is all about. This of course is thanks to a mother who tought me how to manage money. I beleive we should start a new program to teach Americans how to manage money how to invest how to stand on their own two feet and become prosperous. Stop spending more then they make. Banks should not be allowed to give too much credit plus not be able to raise interest rates at their will. You read Two Faces of Debt or Modern Money Mechanics put out by the Federal Reserve and it makes your blood boil. They dont use banks money to back credit cards or other unsecured debt they just print more money. President Bush was quoted as saying it was nothing more then a cooking of the books. To this I say STOP IT you want to give them more free money. Give that money back to the American people but on affordable loan rates. NO FREE MONEY Help each and every household improve their lives, by giving them a chance at low interest rate loans they can QUALIFY for. Educate them on how to budget, invest, etc. Regulate healthcare cost, make leaps and bounds changes in energy cost and the dependency on oil…. STOP helping the Banks and Wall Street and help the American people. When Americans put their money back into the economy that is when this crisis will be over….. I am an American Citizen Please hear my cry… Lisa M. Cook

  • An open letter to David Plouffe

    First and second, congratulations and thank you. You masterminded the best campaign in history for a man I have the highest hopes for.

    I imagine you are not done yet. I am sure that you will have something to say about the inauguration speech, and that is the subject of this letter.

    JFK’s best line in his inauguration speech was arguably “Ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country” This dovetails quite nicely with Obama’s theme that this was our campaign, and is our victory. What must be said in this most important speech is what we the people must do to help our country. The American people are willing to be told in no uncertain terms what we must do, and in my humble opinion need to be told so.

    Economic recovery, which we all want, needs to be put into our hands in small deeds that we can all achieve. This recovery is obviously not just bailing out Wall Street and banks. It isn’t just about shoring up Ford and GM. Granted all that is important. But, this speech must give us clear and decisive ways for each American to assist those efforts, not just tell us what the government plans to do.

    Economic recovery is a spider web of interconnecting possibilities and needs. One thread of this web is to stop sending billions of dollars overseas for oil. To get back to a superior economic status in the world we need to be energy independent. Obama has made the promise that if elected he will make us energy independent in ten years. We need to know how we the people can help make it happen ourselves. We want know what we can start doing now and not wait for the molasses to flow from Washington. Some ideas follow.

    Combine the idea of shoring up the auto industry with federal loans to retool so that “Detroit” is building not only the most energy efficient cars in the world but that they are building only extremely energy efficient cars. In the speech Americans should be asked to start demanding this type of car the next time they are in the market, settle for nothing less. They should also be told to start to demand that the content of these vehicles be American made. As you probably know David, an “American” made car will probably have a transmission from Japan, and alternator made in Mexico, and so on. We need those jobs back in the USA as a part of our recovery, and Barack can ask us to demand that as well. Yes, the bailout money to Detroit could and should demand higher American made content in vehicles, but is up to we the people to buy cars truly made by American labor, our new President should tell us that.

    Energy independence also will require going green. The speech should encourage all of us to do things like solar installations on our homes wherever possible. The government can aid us by helping green power startups and providing tax breaks for us to purchase the systems. Not everyone can go solar, but the speech should tell consumers to start demanding that the energy grid in America be fed by renewable sources and lobby their representatives to find a way to make this possible.

    In short, I hope that in this speech our new President puts the impetus on we the people. It should be a matter of patriotism to work every day in our own small way to get our economy growing again. Barack must inspire us with definite tasks that we can do for our country. Don’t leave us wondering what we can do. Tell us. Then help us.

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