Calif. Gov. Brown: Housing Central to U.S. Prosperity

“This is still a country that is very rich,” California Governor Jerry Brown told thousands of REALTORS® in a surprise keynote address at yesterday’s Legislative & Political Forum. The well-known veteran of American politics, whose appearance wasn’t publicized beforehand, said home ownership is central to America’s wealth, and added that it’s critical for politicians to keep it strong by protecting the mortgage interest deduction and addressing the $1 trillion of mortgage debt “wrapped around the neck” of underwater home owners.

“If all these politicians who want austerity take away your mortgage interest deduction, we’ll dig a deeper hole [in the economy] and won’t be able to climb out,” he said.

Brown was preceded by one of REALTORS®’ biggest friends in Congress, Rep. Rick Miller (R-Calif.), whose NAR-supported legislation (H.R. 2413) would take a comprehensive approach to reforming Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. It would replace them with a government-chartered, non-profit entity that would continue to ensure liquidity in mortgage markets while supporting the emergence of a private secondary market for mortgage-backed securities.

Kicking off the forum were two of the country’s most respected Washington political analysts, Eugene Robinson, a Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist for the Washington Post, and Alex Castellanos, one of the architects of Mitt Romney’s 2008 Republican nomination bid and a strategist with President Bush’s 2004 campaign.

Both Robinson and Castellanos said election odds next year favor President Obama despite the ailing economy, continuing high unemployment, and unhappiness among some critical constituencies with aspects of his legislative record, including health care reform.

Of the Republican contenders, former Massachusetts governor Romney appears to have the best chance for the nomination and against the President, the analysts suggested, but Castellanos said Republican voters might yet go with someone else, which he said would likely “shoot a hole in last remaining life raft” they have against President Obama.

Although Republican contenders haven’t talked a lot about housing, Castellanos expects it to get attention during the general election, and adds that Republicans are on the right side of the issues. He said of any Republican candidates proposing curbs to MID: “It will not happen.”

Source: Robert Freedman, REALTOR® Magazine


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