David Reynolds: Dear Mr. President

Thank you for your taking the time to read my letter. I know that you are very busy these days, what with the endless campaign being squeezed between party fundraisers. Air Force One is sure racking up the miles. And before you know it, November 6, 2012 will be here.

However, I am not writing to you to talk about politics. I am writing for one who can not write. She is only 10 months old. She is my granddaughter. Her name is Sylvia.

Sylvia goes to school not far from where you work, just across 17th Street from the White House grounds and the old Executive Office Building where I used to work. (That’s another story with which I won’t bore you.)

The problem is this. Before you signed the Financial Reform bill someone should have read it. I’m sure you could have asked Harry or Nancy to read the 2,300-plus pages. After all, they raved about it. It should have been a good read for them.

Had anyone read this important legislation, I’m sure they would have spotted a significant unintended consequence. It is this: By shutting down the Office of Thrift Supervision, the Small Savers Child Development Center housed in its basement for the past 24 years is slated for closing. As one parent said, “Small Savers may be the only thing working in that government building.”

Yes, Small Savers is where Sylvia goes to school. And she loves her school. As the father of two daughters, I don’t have to tell you how upset Sylvia is. Just ask Malia and Sasha. And Sylvia’s big sister (age 5) is also upset. Ellie is a proud graduate of Small Savers.

But you know how these things happen. You have been in Washington a long time. Is it six full years now? My, how time flies. You know what happens when the lobbyists just three blocks away up on K Street get their hands on drafting legislation. And then Harry and Nancy went along. Since the bill included everything but the kitchen sink why did it exclude a fine day care center?

Think back to other jobs you have had before your current position. I’m sure that in your teaching gig at the University of Chicago Law School you must have come across the Law of Unintended Consequences. Guess what? In our family it is now called Sylvia’s Law.

So why is it necessary to close down a wonderful day care facility in order to make my financial broker more responsible? That’s using an elephant gun to kill a stock salesman. Save the gun for the Republican Party. When you shoot at New York you need to take better aim – and not hit a Washington day care center. Step down into Sylvia’s basement. You will find a beautiful rainbow coalition of little tots. The bill you signed hit their little fannies as well as fat wallets on Wall Street. And you called it the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act. That’s some kind of “consumer protection!”

May I suggest a way out of the deep political hole you have dug for yourself because Sylvia and her friends will have no basement in which to play? Think back to your days in a “city that works.” Think of Chicago, not Washington. Consult with your downstate friends in Springfield. You know the ones. Not the three governors who went to jail or Blago before he goes behind bars. Or buzz your former Chief of Staff. Rahm knows how to get things done. If he can’t figure out a way to keep Small Savers running he has no business running the City of Chicago. A Daley would know what to do.

In closing, allow me to confess that I did not vote for you in 2008. Nonetheless, if you can clean up this Sylvia mess, I will reconsider my vote in 2012. On the other hand, if an accommodation can not be reached, well, that is another matter. We do not wish to see moving vans at the White House gates on a cold January day in 2013. Do we?

God bless America. And God bless Small Savers.
 
 

Column by David Reynolds.


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