As presidential candidates (including potential ones) step into the national limelight, and the race for the White House in 2016 edges closer, the topic of housing policy and reform is finally getting air time in the conversation.
This is, by all accounts, a welcome change for an industry – housing and mortgage finance – that accounts for such a large portion of the national economy and impacts every American, and yet tends to get the short end of the stick in election years.
With eight declared Republican and Democrat candidates, and another possible baker’s dozen in the wings, two so far have been at the forefront with a discussion on housing.
Earlier this week Jeb Bush, who has not officially announced that he’s running for the Republican nomination for the office that his father and brother held, said at a small fundraiser that he believes the 30-year-mortgage is likely in decline, that Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac need reform, and that the current housing and debt system is unsustainable.
The following is from a rough transcript recorded by a local Fox News affiliate and obtained by HousingWire, and it shows Bush does think housing policy is a priority.
“I think the system we have needs to be reformed for sure,” Bush told those at the informal gathering in New Hampshire. “(I) worry as much about the people who have lost their homes as lost value of their homes. Home values dropped by 30-40% and they keep making their mortgage payments. It's an issue of equity.
“I think Freddie and Fannie need to be reformed,” he said. “We're creating the same bubble that got us in this mess beforehand."
Bush made a point about the changing demographics in housing, and how it affects housing finance.
“I don’t think we'll ever get back to the 30-year fixed-rate mortgage,” Bush said. “If you add up the contingent debt that us has required through housing, student loan program…and then you take the contingent of social security, ... it's in to the $50-60 trillion dollars. If we allow that to exist…don’t recast these liabilities, that's not sustainable. Our children and grandchildren will end up paying all the largess that we allow them to have.”
Less than a fortnight ago, Mike Huckabee, who has formally declared his candidacy for the Republican nomination, talked about his take on housing policy:
Washington is more dysfunctional than ever and has become so beholden to the donor class who fills the campaign coffers that it ignores the fact that one-in-four American families are paying more than half their income for housing. Home ownership is at the lowest level in decades and young people with heavy student debt aren't likely to afford their first home for a while.
Our federal policies for affordable housing aren't designed to protect families, but to protect bureaucrats. A record number of people are enrolled in government operated help programs like food stamps, not because they want to be in poverty, but because they are part of the bottom earning 90% of American workers whose wages have been stagnant for 40 years. The war on poverty hasn't ended poverty; it's prolonged it. I don't judge the success of government by how many people are on assistance, but by how many people have good jobs and don't need government assistance.