Viewpoint: Housing Is Ghost Issue in Presidential Race

Housing Presidential Race

When it comes to the housing crisis, it's not what the GOP candidates have said but what they're not saying.

The housing and foreclosure crisis has been pretty much invisible in the presidential race, playing stepchild to the issue of what to do about all those unemployed people and the pesky fact that nobody is creating any jobs.

TheLas Vegas Sun noted that when the Republican presidential candidates recently debated economic policy in New Hampshire, the word "foreclosure" was uttered just one time.

Since the next debate is in Nevada -- a state where foreclosure signs have become the official state lawn flower -- you'd think we might see that change, but as the Sun notes, we likely won't. The Nevada debate will be the GOP's eighth one and housing remains the ghost issue.

About the only guy to even take a position on the issue is Rep. Ron Paul of Texas, who thinks the federal government should get out of the housing business and instead just let prices sink until the free market forces kick in. I'm sure homeowners will line up to vote for him, just as soon as they take their heads out of the oven. Maybe his running mate can be the banker who thought up bulldozing foreclosed homes as a way to reduce inventory.

The problem is that Republicans running for president see the housing crisis as just a symptom of the economic recession and see jobs creation as the bigger solution. Heaven knows, the Democrats in the White House haven't fixed either. Washington's housing policies weren't worth the paper they were printed on. Just ask someone who tried to get a loan modification or refinance their home into one of those much-ballyhooed and impossible-to-get loan rates. Of the 4 million people who were expected to be "saved," just 800,000 got loan mods to stay in their homes.

And yet the mantra, both from the White House and on the GOP political trail, has been about jobs, not housing. Yes, it's true that people can't buy houses unless they have jobs. But that's only part of the picture. People can't buy houses unless they have financing either -- and no candidates are talking about what they'd do to loosen lending standards or pressure banks into actually lending some money, instead of keeping it all in the coffers.

The GOP candidates are also not talking about what sort of spanking banks should be getting for robo-signing people out of their homes, or whether they support the idea that banks should reduce principal loan amounts for borrowers whose homes have devalued.

And here's a news flash for the GOP: Not everyone who would like to refinance their house or buy a new one is out of work. Some people gave up waiting for Washington to create jobs and instead turned to entrepreneurship. Just try getting the bank's approval if you are self-employed.

Perhaps the GOP is secretly waiting for housing to magically right itself. It has, after all, been the divining rod that led the country out of previous recessions. Too bad that isn't happening this time.

UPDATE: Tuesday afternoon, a few hours before the Republican debate was set to begin, Mitt Romney spoke with the editorial board of the Las Vegas Review-Journal about the foreclosure crisis. In a filmed interview, Romney criticized the Obama administration for trying to stem the tide of foreclosures. "Don't try to stop the foreclosure process. Let it run its course and hit the bottom," Romney said. "Allow investors to buy homes, put renters in them, fix the homes up and let it turn around and come back up." Watch the full interview here.

Also see:
Republican Presidential Candidates: Which One Is Best for Your Wallet?
Viewpoint: Hey Mr. President, How About Housing?
Read Full Story

Find a home

Powered by Zillow