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June 22nd, 2012
08:11 AM ET


As part of our ongoing series featuring middle class Americans expressing their concerns about the hot button issues this election season we're getting their questions and bringing them to the candidates. Below is an opinion piece by Michael Bindner from Alexandria, Virginia who is among the nation's long term unemployed.


In the United States, practically everyone is in the middle class – from highly paid professionals making over $150,000 a year to factory workers in a union job making considerably less. So many people are included that class consciousness is not a big deal here. People don’t really worry about falling out of the middle class – they care about their own circumstances. They care about whether they can pay their own mortgages, keep their jobs or get new ones when unemployed. These are essentially the challenges facing our family.

Last year, both Moira and I lost our jobs. Moira lost hers first and, just as her severance was running out, I lost my job at Graduate School USA due to government austerity measures (the first thing that gets cut in austerity is training and the first people let go are temporary employees). Given my personal experience, calls for even more austerity as a solution to our economic crisis leave me cold, especially as my best chance for getting a new job is in the federal sector, either as a government employee or a contractor, since the other thing that doesn’t happen during a climate of austerity is hiring.

Moira got a new job at about the time her basic unemployment ran out – however due to state austerity measures, her start date had been delayed by three months. She had located the job during her severance period but had to wait for budget considerations with the Virginia Department of Transportation to actually begin work – and the job is as a contractor rather than an employee, so there are no benefits. Austerity is not helping her much either.

Now that she is working again, we have begun to pay back our debts on payment plans, although our mortgage is still in forbearance while I am seeking employment. Luckily, our mortgage is with the Virginia Housing Authority, so we can do this. Had we borrowed with a bank, we would likely be on the street today. We are making payments again, but are far behind on our primary mortgage. Once I go back to work, we are eligible for mortgage principal forbearance, but not forgiveness. This means if either of us finds a job where we have to relocate, our only option is selling short or simply foreclosure, leading back to bankruptcy.

The thought of going into bankruptcy does not leave us warm and fuzzy, or else we would have done so by now. We have enough class consciousness not to want to take this step, although the Republican nominee seems to talk like quick foreclosure and bankruptcy are the best options for us. He may be right, although the austere Ryan budget he is proposing does not give us confidence in the future, especially regarding the possibilities of re-employment in the public or contracting sector. We don’t see President Obama offering much more, however. Both candidates seem to be standing with the people who hold our debt rather than with us, given where they get their campaign contributions.                                                                                                                                                                                        


Alexandria, Virginia


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Filed under: Carol Costello • CNN Newsroom
soundoff (21 Responses)
  1. Richard smith

    Ok. I read the question. Seems straight forward, but then I watched Carol deliver the piece on air and it turned into a snarky hit piece on Romney. I would have thought that CNN newsroom, which is supposed to be straight news, not MSNBC or FOX biased junk would have asked the question to both candidates. VERY disappointing or is it just the anchor's own bias sneaking through.

    June 22, 2012 at 10:40 am |
  2. tom

    get rid of costello and her pretentious laugh..PLEASE..very annoying.

    June 22, 2012 at 10:44 am |
  3. Anne Gemunder

    Watching Carol Costellos' show this morning is hard to swallow if you are looking for news objectivity. First we see Carol feel sad for a young illegal immigrant's plight when she is seen asking Gov. Romney a question about her personal situation (which was posted on YouTube). This is certainly not "news". And perhaps she could feel sad for a young American woman struggling to go to college in hopes of finding a job too. Then we see a piece about "middle class talkback" where CNN supposedly sends questions to the two presidential candidates. A viewer asks a long detailed question about losing her job and the threat of losing her house only to find out that the Romney campaign didn't respond. It seems to me at that point you don't have a piece or any news to report but CNN went ahead and used old generic video tape of Romney to answer it for her. For someone that is looking for news and objectivity, I have to look long and hard to find it at CNN.

    June 22, 2012 at 10:51 am |
  4. Michael Bindner, Alexandria VA

    I actually ran my own campaign in Americans Elect, with a tax plan and everything. I would have sold the GSE debt to the Federal Reserve to write down. So far, Obama has not gone that far, however Romney will never go there – altough Moira is asking that question to Romney next week. We will see if or how he responds. My vote is still up for grabs. If a Libertarian or Green Candidate proposes the reforms that will bring back housing and looks like he or she may pick up enough support to send the election to the House by doing so, I may vote that way (although such a candidate would still have to have some House candidates to back them up). Absent a really robust effort to create a real major party (including fundraising), I will probably support the President. He could certainly help matters by taking principal forgiveness rather than refinancing.

    June 22, 2012 at 9:14 pm |
  5. JGallagher Average American

    Question: Does our gov. give kickbacks to companies who hire newly established Americans? I ask this because i went to a Sams store & all employees but a few were filipino. That around 15 employees. Most barley spoke a lic of english. I also noticed this trend when going to a home depot.lets not get started on Job site such as constr. of new homes 70% of the workers are from mexico. Our house are being built by foreign born citizens. Gives Made in America a new meaning .Its seems people who travel to America are getting the jobs over American born citizens. A great topic to ask our President & Romney: is our Gov giving kickbacks to companies who hire newly made citizens & do you feel this has helped lead to our unemplyment rate??

    June 23, 2012 at 10:34 am |
  6. Pat

    In keeping with JGallagher's comment – there are three supermarkets in my neighborhood that all belong to one major supermarket chain. When white managers ran these stores, they had a racially mixed group of employees. As soon as Hispanic managers took over, all of the previous employees were gone, and were completely replaced by young Hispanics. They usually speak Spanish, even though some of them speak unaccented English. I hope the older previous employees received a generous package that enabled them to retire.
    In a business district in a mostly white neighborhood near where I live, it is rare to see a white employee in any of the banks, cell phone companies or other stores. I don't know if the gov't. is paying kickbacks to companies, but I do think diversity in hiring should mean that people of all groups are adequately represented. Unfortunately, elected officials don't seem to care if this is happening.

    June 25, 2012 at 9:48 pm |
  7. Michael Newmann

    10:12 PM Pacific Time watching you're story about cities going bust. What has always done in the past was the Fed. Gov.
    always stepped in to fund the cities through the states . The meltdown of our economy was caused by Wall Street and Banks so stop taking it class.

    July 15, 2012 at 1:15 am |
  8. Andy

    Someone should tell Mitt Romney that the word is "eloquent", not "elegant".

    September 18, 2012 at 10:42 am |
  9. William W. Bauser

    Economic patriotism means redistribution justice but not economic distributive liberty.

    September 28, 2012 at 10:40 am |
  10. Andrea

    ) as Governor with gay marriage, tax incseares which were renamed fees, Romneycare, Democrats appointed judges and I'll let others from MA continue this list. Romney is the opposite of Reagan who compromised half way towards Reagan's goals, not the liberal goals. The Forbes article shows the stupidity of Bush/Romney reach across the aisle acts.

    September 30, 2012 at 11:40 am |
  11. bob

    I just saw a piece on CNN at 9:40 AM. It's about a woman who can't afford to pay her propane bill and fears losing your house. Is there anyway I can get in touch with that woman and try to help her out?

    It would be my please to do so

    February 18, 2014 at 9:42 am |
  12. Ray

    Interesting to see that the biased liberal press in the name of Carol Costello thinks the Palin girls story was humorous or amusing. Well this seems like complete disrespect for women . Guess she is saying it is okay for guys to abuse women and drag them out of a room physically. Wonder what she is going to say if this happens to her? I think I am beginning to understand why CNN is a no show with other news organizations. She should have been fired before her inappropriate rant had been completed. CNN is looking like the middle school team going up against the pros. It is shocking that CNN is so polarized that it can't see how classless this event was,

    October 23, 2014 at 11:52 pm |
  13. mike andrews

    Hey Carol, Here's an idea, report the news on CNN Newsroom. If I want to hear about the Pailins in a fight, I'll turn on Access Hollywood or Entertainment Tonight. ANd I doubt you'd even run the story if it were say, Pelosi's daughter. What is it with you liberals, if a woman is not a liebral you MUST attack? WOW

    October 24, 2014 at 8:27 am |
  14. Dave Alewine

    Ms. Costello,
    I hope that your daughter or the Clinton's daughter never get the crap beat out of them and robbed. How dare you laugh at anyone being in danger, you of all people that claimed you were also a victim of domestic violence. The best 1 1/2 minutes of audio to me would be a tape of you signing your termination paperwork and the CNN door hitting you on the way out!

    October 24, 2014 at 9:23 pm |
  15. Lee spillman

    Obama needs to answer this question Why dont we allow Iraq iran to form one country and take control of and out of control situtation? They would stop ISIS and rebuild with there money. We would come home and repair Americas problems.

    October 25, 2014 at 4:28 pm |
  16. Rational Thinker

    Ms. Costello,
    I'm petrified that you would derive any kind of joy from the attack on a young lady! What exactly is humorous about it? And for what purpose should anyone thank you for spilling your disregard for the safety of an American citizen? It's people like you that make me embarrassed as a defender of YOUR freedoms to see you use them so unscrupulously. Wise up and offer the entire Palin family and your viewers an apology the next time you're on air.

    October 27, 2014 at 6:40 am |
  17. mike jackson

    officer Wilson did not do his job wright he should of had a taser on him at all cost even if would been a coke hold

    November 26, 2014 at 10:39 am |
  18. mike jackson

    all police officer in the united state should have taser on them Michael brown would of been alive today my heart goes out to the brown family

    November 26, 2014 at 10:43 am |
  19. Michael Watts

    Where is the outrage for the White Police Officer killed by 4 Black Men? Why isn't this story on the NEWS?

    December 3, 2014 at 5:53 pm |
  20. Tee

    Everyone talks about how lady gaga nailed it yes, but
    The words of the National anthem was written in scrolls
    For her to sing, if you are not observant, you will not see it.
    Why did she not sing it out of memory on her own? Yes her
    Performance was great, give me a break. Beyoncé was great also.
    So she bounced a little while dancing; that is part of a natural show of artistic
    Performance. Give Beyoncé credit also. She was not paid for her performance; she
    did it for the love of music and her Country...
    Also importantly, when is America as a whole going to embrace?
    “The Black Race?” We fight to wake up as a depressed people stemming from
    racism, we fight for our lives for being shot either by accident or intentionally.
    Lord! People give the Black Race a chance... it is difficult being Black... and we
    don’t want to be reminded each day.
    Shout out to Cam Newton. Great Job. Shout out to Beyoncé strong black
    Woman. You are appreciated. You go girl...And for the haters – Whatever try being
    black for a day – take the scientific experimental challenge. Then you will see how it
    feels –

    February 8, 2016 at 5:32 pm |
  21. Columbus Trotti

    March 4, 2021 at 10:56 am |

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