Concrete housing initiatives were absent from President Obama's State of the Union speech Tuesday night, although he made several references to the improving economy, and indirectly praised the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.
The president's speech, which highlighted his agenda for the middle-class, started with the story of a young couple who went through hard times because of the financial crisis; specifically a job loss related to construction. According to Obama, the story of their struggle and then recovery mirrors the broader economic recovery.
"America, Rebekah and Ben’s story is our story. They represent the millions who have worked hard, and scrimped, and sacrificed, and retooled. You are the reason I ran for this office. You’re the people I was thinking of six years ago today, in the darkest months of the crisis, when I stood on the steps of this Capitol and promised we would rebuild our economy on a new foundation. And it’s been your effort and resilience that has made it possible for our country to emerge stronger," Obama said.
Amid his calls for free community college tuition, universal child care and wage increases, the president made a reference to the financial crisis and the CFPB's role:
"We believed that sensible regulations could prevent another crisis, shield families from ruin, and encourage fair competition. Today, we have new tools to stop taxpayer-funded bailouts, and a new consumer watchdog to protect us from predatory lending and abusive credit card practices."
In another reference to the housing economy, Obama said, "But things like child care and sick leave and equal pay; things like lower mortgage premiums and a higher minimum wage – these ideas will make a meaningful difference in the lives of millions of families."
Obama's announcement on Jan. 7 that he was directing the Federal Housing Administration to reduce annual mortgage insurance premiums looks to be the extent of any housing action that the administration will take in the near future. The White House said the reduction could lead to a savings of up to $900 a year for some homeowners.
RealtyTrac looked at county-level data to see how much FHA borrowers would save from the premium cut and found that it varied widely. According to the HousingWire article: "In fact, according to a HousingWire analysis of the RealtyTrac data, of the 1,174 counties included in RealtyTrac’s report, 316 will actually save more than $900, while 858 will save less than $900."
Read the whole State of the Union speech here.