Hey, Presidential Candidates: Where are the New Ideas to Fix Housing?

The White HouseSeveral people have declared their intentions to run for president, but none have outlined a proposed solution to the housing crisis. Image: Matt H. Wade/Wikipedia

Fixing the housing market is perhaps the most important step toward fixing the economy, so you would think those who want to win the next presidential election would be talking about how housing creates jobs, the ways consumer confidence is tied to home prices, and what the heck they will do to fix the housing market and turn the economy around.

But not one of the current presidential candidates — including the one who already holds the office — has made any bold pronouncements or offered any new ideas when it comes to housing.

We need those new ideas because the old ideas that flew out from both sides of the aisle to fix housing not only won’t fix a thing, they’ll also make the short-term housing situation worse and the long-term situation just as bad.

The president and his Democratic allies enacted Dodd-Frank, which includes mandates that make it harder for banks to lend and for consumers to borrow.

Republicans and some Democrats want to eliminate Fannie and Freddie, which, along with the FHA and VA, guarantee almost 90% of all mortgages. Getting rid of them when you have no new workable idea how to replace them is like chopping off your arm because you have a hangnail. We need more access to safe, affordable mortgage money, not less, if we want the housing market to recover.

Other bipartisan ideas floating around Capitol Hill are just as detrimental to a housing and economic recovery. There’s a group that wants to get rid of the mortgage interest deduction. But that means buyers who itemize will no longer get a tax benefit.

What we need is an adult discussion when it comes to housing. How come none of the candidates have a common-sense plan to fix the housing market and help the economy recover? What can and should the government do to make it easier for qualified buyers to purchase a home and owners to refinance? How can we make it more difficult for people to stop paying their mortgages just because their home value fell? What can the private sector do to improve the housing marketplace without artificially inflating home prices?

I don’t have all the answers, but our presidential candidates need to start focusing on the most important thing that can turn our economy around: our housing sector. So far, their good ideas have been few and far between.

If you were the president, what would you do to get the housing market going and the economy back on track?