Can Any of the GOP Candidates Solve the Housing Crisis?

WASHINGTON -- Key proposals from the Republican presidential candidates might make for good campaign fodder. But independent analyses raise serious questions about those plans and their ability to cure the nation's ills in two vital areas, the economy and housing.

Consider proposed cuts in taxes and regulation, which nearly every GOP candidate is pushing in the name of creating jobs. The initiatives seem to ignore surveys in which employers cite far bigger impediments to increased hiring, chiefly slack consumer demand.

"Republicans favor tax cuts for the wealthy and corporations, but these had no stimulative effect during the George W. Bush administration, and there is no reason to believe that more of them will have any today," writes Bruce Bartlett. He's an economist who worked for Republican congressmen and in the administrations of Presidents Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush.

As for the idea that cutting regulations will lead to significant job growth, Bartlett said in an interview, "It's just nonsense. It's just made up."

Government and industry studies support his view.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics, which tracks companies' reasons for large layoffs, found that 1,119 layoffs were attributed to government regulations in the first half of this year, while 144,746 were attributed to poor "business demand."

Calling for Tax Cuts

Mainstream economic theory says governments can spur demand, at least somewhat, through stimulus spending. The Republican candidates, however, have labeled President Barack Obama's 2009 stimulus efforts a failure. Instead, most are calling for tax cuts that would primarily benefit high-income people, who are seen as the likeliest job creators.

"I don't care about that," Texas Gov. Rick Perry told The New York Times and CNBC, referring to tax breaks for the rich. "What I care about is them having the dollars to invest in their companies."

Many existing businesses, however, have plenty of unspent cash. The 500 companies that comprise the S&P index have about $800 billion in cash and cash equivalents, the most ever, according to the research firm Birinyi Associates.

The rating firm Moody's says the roughly 1,600 companies it monitors had $1.2 trillion in cash at the end of 2010. That's 11 percent more than a year earlier.

Small businesses rate "poor sales" as their biggest problem, with government regulations ranking second, according to a survey by the National Federation of Independent Businesses. Of the small businesses saying this is not a good time to expand, half cited the poor economy as the chief reason. Thirteen percent named the "political climate."

More small businesses complained about regulation during the administrations of Bill Clinton and George H.W. Bush, according to an analysis of the federation's data by the liberal Economic Policy Institute.

Such findings notwithstanding, further cuts in taxes and regulations remain popular with GOP voters. A recent Associated Press-GfK poll found that most Democrats and about half of independents think "reducing environmental and other regulations on business" would do little or nothing to create jobs. But only one-third of Republicans felt that way.

The GOP's presidential hopefuls are shaping their economic agendas along those lines.

Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney says his 59-point plan "seeks to reduce taxes, spending, regulation and government programs."

Businessman Herman Cain would significantly cut taxes for the wealthy with his 9 percent flat tax plan. Rep. Michele Bachmann of Minnesota said in a recent debate, "It's the regulatory burden that costs us $1.8 trillion every year.... It's jobs that are lost."

Hands-Off on Housing

The candidates have said little about another national problem: depressed home prices, as well as the high numbers of foreclosures and borrowers who owe more than their houses are worth.

After the Oct. 18 GOP debate in Las Vegas, a center of foreclosure activity, editors of the AOL Real Estate site wrote, "We didn't hear any meaningful solutions to the housing crisis. That's no surprise, considering that housing has so far been a ghost issue in the campaign."

To the degree that the candidates addressed housing, they mainly took a hands-off approach. "We need to get government out of the way," Cain said. "It starts with making sure that we can boost this economy and then reform Dodd-Frank," which is a law that regulates Wall Street transactions.

Bachmann, in an answer that mentioned "moms" six times, said foreclosures fall most heavily on women who are "losing their nest for their children and for their family." She said Obama "has failed you on this issue of housing and foreclosures. I will not fail you on this issue." Bachmann offered no specific remedies.

Romney told editors of the Las Vegas Review-Journal: "Don't try and stop the foreclosure process. Let it run its course and hit the bottom. Allow investors to buy homes, put renters in them, fix the homes up and let it turn around and come back up."

Perry spokesman Mark Miner said the Texas governor's "immediate remedy for housing is to get America working again.... Creating jobs will address the housing concerns that are impacting communities throughout America."

Bartlett, whose books on tax policy include "The Benefit and the Burden," recently wrote in The New York Times: "People are increasingly concerned about unemployment, but Republicans have nothing to offer them."

The candidates and their supporters dispute this, of course. A series of scheduled debates may give them chances to explain why their proposals would hit the right targets.

Copyright 2011 The Associated Press. The information contained in the AP news report may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or otherwise distributed without the prior written authority of The Associated Press. Active hyperlinks have been inserted by AOL.

Also see:
Viewpoint: Obama's Drop-in-the-Bucket Idea for Housing

The Mortgage Fix That Can Save the Economy
Republican Candidates: Short on Housing Policy, Long on Houses

Halloween Real Estate: Monster Houses
See Gallery
Can Any of the GOP Candidates Solve the Housing Crisis?

Location: Alpine, N.J. 
Price: $53 million
Beds/Baths: 12/19
Size: 30,000 sq. ft.

Light-years removed from the "Jersey Shore" house, this massive Colonial shows a whole other side of the Garden State. It doesn't get more luxurious than this. 

See what we're talking about

Features of the home include mountain views, five fireplaces, a swimming pool, tennis court and five-car garage. 

See photos of this beast of a house. 

Location: Hickory Creek, Texas
Price: $35 million
Beds/Baths: 6/14
Size: 36,630 sq. ft.

Commanding 90 acres, this French chateau is bursting at the seams with luxury. The home boasts a lavish master suite, two guest suites, indoor and outdoor pools, and a 15-car garage, among other features.  

Get more details

Oh, and don't forget the ballroom, bowling alley, theater, wine room, tennis court and veranda. If you get sick of the two pools, you also can take dips in the property's private lake. The sprawling residence may not be as proud as it used to be, however. The listing description tells us, "SELLER WILL CONSIDER ALL OFFERS." 

Learn more about this behemoth

Location: Fort Washington, Pa. 
Price: $30 million
Beds/Baths: 10/15
Size: 36,957 sq. ft.

This home's concrete and stucco exterior make it look like a castle. Its size jibes with that theme -- nearly 37,000 square feet -- and so does its "tower." Sitting on 70 acres, the home offers two dining rooms, a library, gourmet kitchen, media room, indoor tennis court and playroom. 

That's only the beginning

One thing on the description of this fortress that really caught our eye was the residence's playhouse -- listed at 20,000 square feet. We're still trying to figure out just what that means exactly. The home also commands its own mini-village: two stone farm houses and a three-bedroom apartment.

See the listing for more details. 

Location: Beverly Hills, Calif. 
Price: $55 million
Beds/Baths: 9/13
Size: 36,000 sq. ft.

This sprawling home is as impressive for its ornate finishes as its jaw-dropping size. Some of its "exquisite designs" include hand-carved limestone, French moldings with 24-karat glitz and bronze double-paned windows and doors.

See some of the home's over-the-top amenities

Outside its palatial interior, the property offers a full-size tennis court and garden-enclosed pool pavilion. The listing calls the place an "entertainer's paradise." It's hard to disagree.

See the listing for more details. 

Location: Miami Beach, Fla. 
Price: $11.77 million
Beds/Baths: 6/8
Size: 40,000 sq. ft.

This Miami Beach mansion sprawls a mind-blowing 40,000 square feet. Sited on intracoastal waterfront, it represents the cream of the crop of Miami Beach's wide array of uber-lavish residences. 

Get the scoop on how this place uses all that space

Location: Indian Creek Village, Fla. 
Price: $60 million
Beds/Baths: 10/14
Size: 30,000 sq. ft.

While it's not the most expensive house we've ever seen, this local sensation definitely deserves a nod of respect from the country's record-holder. The 30,000-square-foot home has some truly exceptional features, like the "chromotherapy spa" and "light-filtering louvered walls." 

View a gallery of the home to see them all. 

Feast your eyes on the home's 100-foot resort-size pool. This veritable pond, paired with other features -- like its gourmet kitchen, rooftop lawn and Jacuzzi, wine celler, servant room and massage room -- identify the residence as a home equipped to host terrifyingly large parties. 

See photos of this monster

Location: Los Angeles, Calif. 
Price: $6.3 million
Beds/Baths: 8/12
Size: 53,000 sq. ft.

Our biggest listing yet. Clocking in at 53,000 square feet, this home once functioned as a secret research facility for the military. According to Sotheby's listing agent Brett Lawyer and some Internet sites, the Lookout Mountain Air Force Station was built in 1941 as the main West Coast air defense and radar communications headquarters in World War II. Converted into a research facility for the atom bomb a few years later, the space was visited by top generals and consultants.

See the home's jaw-dropping interior or read AOL Real Estate's full profile of it.  

Location: Farmington, Conn.
Price: $9.999 million
Beds/Baths: 21/25
Size: 48,515 sq ft

Rapper/actor 50 Cent (aka Curtis Jackson) has been trying to unload his 17-acre estate in Farmington, Conn., which he bought from Mike Tyson's ex-wife, for several years. He only paid $4.1 million for the home but reportedly spent $6 million renovating it. Over the years, he has reduced the price from $18.5 million to its current ask of $10 million. 

Get the full story by reading our profile on 50 Cent's home

The home has a nightclub...

Gain entry here

Location: Los Angeles, Calif. 
Price: $125 million
Beds/Baths: 12/15
Size: 35,046 sq. ft.

This $125 million French-style mansion is one of the most expensive homes on the market, and falls just short (sort of) of clinching the honor of highest ask ever. That would be Candy Spelling's former palace, which was initially listed at $150 million, but actually ended up selling for $85 million. But back to the $125 million "Fleur De Lys": it boasts two kitchens, multiple tennis courts, a giant movie theater, pool and nine-car garage -- for starters. 

See why it costs so much

The 4 1/2-acre estate also has a guest house and a state-of-the-art security system. 

See the listing for more details. 

Location: Stateline, Nev. 
Price: $75 million
Beds/Baths: 9/12
Size: 38,000 sq. ft.

This $75 million estate is big in all ways: The house is 38,000 square feet and the property sprawls 210 pine-blanketed acres. It features exquisite landscaping, a covered patio, four-car garage and massive pool. The dining room even has coffered ceilings with frescoes.

See pictures of this home's ornate interior

The exposed beams and vaulted ceilings of this mansion give it an Old World feel. But as the next photo shows...

See the listing for details. 

... the home certainly doesn't shun some modern conveniences. Here we have a massive indoor pool.

See the exquisite details in this mansion


More on AOL Real Estate:
Find out how to
calculate mortgage payments.
homes for sale in your area.
foreclosures in your area.
See celebrity real estate.
Read Full Story

Find a home

Powered by Zillow