White House Conference debates 'Value of Housing'.

Real Estate Agent with 1st Action Real Estate

I suspect many of you have been following the blowback from the White House Conference on Housing held earlier this week. I haven't had an opportunity to talk with former CAR President Vince Malta, who was NAR's rep at the event, nor have I seen any quotes from him in the press. Most of the quotes seem to be from Mark Zandi and his comments about how 'we can't afford housing subsidies any longer'. Hmmmm, I don't recall Zandi mentioning that the last time he addressed an NAR crowd. Could it be he modifies his comments and his beliefs depending on the audience? Pro-housing when you're in front of Realtors but pro-tax when you're invited to sit on an Obama panel? I guess that's how you keep getting  invited back.  

But as Dr. Alan Greenspan told us at the NAR conference a couple years back, you've got to pay attention to the 'first rule of economists. For every economist there is an equal and opposite economist. Rule #2 - they're both wrong'. Zandi's just the one getting quoted today.

But the more serious underlying tone of the seminar is that for the first time in 70 years, housing is on the table - especially the heretofore sacrosanct mortgage interest deduction. Panelists questioned the 'value of home ownership' and floated the theory that the government 'spent' $230 Billion to promote home ownership last year, the biggest chunk - $80 Billion - on the mortgage interest deduction. And they're just not sure what return that's producing for the government.

Excuse me? They're spending $80 Billion on the mortgage interest deduction? That's a bald faced LIE! They don't 'spend' a nickel on the MID. The fact is, for them it's simply a missed opportunity to tax us on yet another area of our lives. And since when was the purpose of homeownership  to provide a revenue generating tool for government? (Of course, what isn't these days?)

Let's take their argument one step further - is the $80 Billion they claim they're spending on homeowners really going to make a dent in the national debt, which is approaching $10 Trillion dollars? Is it Mark? So it's OK to continue to funds all the pork and earmarks, bridges to nowhere, the arts, auto bail-outs, bank bail-outs, welfare for illegals, a trillion dollar healthcare bill, Fannie & Freddie , the post office, not to menton the lifetime benefits accorded those who serve in Congress. But that $80 Billion a year for MID is breaking us? Is that really the best you can come up with? 

But remember, it's not $80 Billion they're 'spending' - it's $80 Billion of OUR OWN MONEY they're letting us keep. Of course anybody (in the government) can tell you the government knows how to spend our money better than we do. 

And why did they seem to focus on the $80 Billion in MID and ignore the remaining $150 Billion spent on housing stimulus last year including the first time homebuyer tax credit? Maybe it's because the tax credit was backed by this administration so they didn't want to bite the hand that invited them to the conference. 

But probably it's because of a theory floated by another administration sycophant claiming that studies show the MID primarily benefits the wealthy. People making less than $40,000/year only benefit $91 while those making $250,000 benefit $5,459. Look out people, here's another salvo at those damn 'wealthy' people. We need to redistribute that wealth.  Somehow we need to level the playing field so that people who work hard and do well get dinged more, or maybe they need to subsidize bigger houses for the people making less so those people can get bigger tax write-offs. It's a shame to waste $80 billion on homeowners when you so many more undeserving groups you could fritter it away on.

Regardless of his fallacious math, the bottom-line is he has just redefined ANYBODY who owns a home as wealthy because they are getting benefits from the federal government that non-homeowners aren't. So if you're one of the people only benefitting $91/year, don't get too smug because according to these folks you're wealthy too and you won't escape the axe.

That's just wrong. Never mind we're not collecting welfare or food stamps or ADC  or all the other give-aways our government has devised. The paltry $80 Billion 'spent' on homeowners is simply not providing a big enough 'return' to the government, according to these flacks.

I'm sick of this. I'm sick of paying ever increasing taxes so the unmotivated and unproductive can maintain their lifestyle. I'm sick of this talk of re-distributing the wealth. I'm sick of the constant attacks by this administration on the hard-working, productive members of this country. I'm sick of attacks on real estate and private property rights and on people who have been fortunate or industrious enough to own a home or several homes or invest in real estate. Mostly I'm sick of sycophants who, when faced with a problem, point the finger at every segment of our society except toward the one segment where the blame truly rests - our country has a huge freakin' spending problem and we can no longer afford OUR GOVERNMENT. 

Well, that's just my opinion - I could be wrong.



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Mike Saunders
Lanier Partners - Athens, GA

Gene - this is all part of the "Sustainable Community" approach to controlling where people work, live and shop. And remember, any dollar of taxable income that is not collected is considered a loss by the feds. In their minds they believe that all of it is theirs.

Aug 19, 2010 12:20 PM #1
Lane Bailey
Century 21 Results Realty - Suwanee, GA
Realtor & Car Guy

For a couple of decades now, the government has classified ALL of the money we keep as an expenditure.  That is why they say that tax cut "cost" the government $X... 

Aug 19, 2010 03:26 PM #2
Gayle Batchelor

Awesome Opinion.  I could not have said it any better or clearer than you.  What are you hearing about the shadow inventory? 

Aug 19, 2010 04:30 PM #3
Bill Lauler
Chase Realty LLC - McLean, VA
Associate Broker,CIPS,CRB,SRES,GRI

Hey Gene , Soon the current administration will want to remove the words "We the people" from the declaration an replace it with . The government has the right to take everything  and the people have no rights.

Aug 20, 2010 01:14 AM #4
DJ Oliver

Thank you for such a great opinion, one that mirrors mine of course! What are these people thinking? It's our very large homeownership that makes us so easy to govern not to mention the impact to our economy  that the housing market provides. These people really don't care about our country, they care about getting re-elected.

Aug 20, 2010 04:08 AM #5
Gene Wunderlich
1st Action Real Estate - Murrieta, CA
Realtor & Legislative Liaison

It's become a screwed-up, bass-ackwards way of looking at reality for sure. But you are correct - the government has come to believe that we serve them - not the way it was originally written, and what's theirs is theirs and what's ours is theirs also - they are so benevolent they just let us retain a portion to keep the revolution in check.

Aug 20, 2010 06:03 AM #6
Wallace S. Gibson, CPM
Gibson Management Group, Ltd. - Charlottesville, VA

I suspect there will be an attempt at the IMPUTED TAX for home ownership - Remember Hillary saying homeowners should pay taxes on the imputed RENTAL VALUE of their home

Aug 23, 2010 11:21 AM #7
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Gene Wunderlich

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