President Obama vs. Mitt Romney on dealing with housing crisis

Even though President Obama and Mitt Romney are not officially running against each other yet, they have presented contrasting plans to deal with the housing crisis. Yesterday, President Obama offered a new “revamped refinancing program” that would help 1 to 1.5 million homeowners:

Under Obama’s proposal, homeowners who are still current on their mortgages would be able to refinance no matter how much their home value has dropped below what they still owe…

At the same time, Obama acknowledged that his latest proposal will not do all that’s not needed to get the housing market back on its feet. “Given the magnitude of the housing bubble, and the huge inventory of unsold homes in places like Nevada, it will take time to solve these challenges,” he said…

Presidential spokesman Jay Carney criticized Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney for proposing last week while in Las Vegas that the government not interfere with foreclosures. “Don’t try to stop the foreclosure process,” Romney told the Las Vegas Review-Journal. “Let it run its course and hit the bottom.”

“That is not a solution,” Carney told reporters on Air Force One. He said Romney would tell homeowners, “‘You’re on your own, tough luck.'”

How much of these proposals is about looking for votes versus actually seeking out a plan that will help ease dropping home values, foreclosures, and a housing glut?

At the same time, the Washington Post reports that government efforts in recent years haven’t helped much:

President Obama pledged at the beginning of his term to boost the nation’s crippled housing market and help as many as 9 million homeowners avoid losing their homes to foreclosure.

Nearly three years later, it hasn’t worked out. Obama has spent just $2.4 billion of the $50 billion he promised. The initiatives he announced have helped 1.7 million people. Housing prices remain near a crisis low. Millions of people are deeply indebted, owing more than their properties are worth, and many have lost their homes to foreclosure or are likely to do so. Economists increasingly say that, as a result, Americans are too scared to spend money, depriving the economy of its traditional engine of growth.

The Obama effort fell short in part because the president and his senior advisers, after a series of internal debates, decided against more dramatic actions to help homeowners, worried that they would pose risks for taxpayers and the economy, according to numerous current and former officials. They consistently unveiled programs that underperformed, did little to reduce mortgage debts owed by ordinary Americans and rejected a get-tough approach with banks.

Too risky meaning that it was politically untenable when more people are concerned with risk and deficits?

The conversation about housing could play an interesting role in the 2012 elections as both parties look to claim the mantle of defenders of the American middle-class dream of homeownership.

0 thoughts on “President Obama vs. Mitt Romney on dealing with housing crisis

  1. Pingback: Prediction: housing prices in for a third dip | Legally Sociable

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