Why the Candidates Aren’t Talking About Housing for America and Ventura County Residents

Why the Candidates Aren’t Talking About Housing for America and Ventura County Residents

The housing crisis has reshaped the nation over the last five years particularly in areas like Ventura County. But neither the Obama nor the Romney campaign has had very much to say about it.

Although many Ventura County residents wonder why housing has not been discussed in the campaign debate,there is an obvious explanation: housing is a political loser.

All potential Ventura County housing fixes are messy. Some are very expensive and reward irresponsible behavior. None will be a cure-all. And each will leave someone feeling left out.

That was the view articulated two years ago by Richard Berner, then the chief U.S. economist at Morgan Stanley, shortly before he joined Obama’s Treasury Department. “Many policy options are available to fix America’s dysfunctional housing and mortgage markets,” he wrote. “But the political will to deploy them is scarce.”

President Barack Obama has not included much discussion of his housing, though he continues to push Congress to loosen rules that would allow more homeowners to refinance.

His administration neglected to spend a substantial amount of money it had allocated for reworking troubled mortgages for American and Ventura County, for which it has received heavy criticism. White House officials insist the efforts made have helped move the mortgage industry towards providing more loan modifications, and we can see this in the decline of default rates on modified loans for Ventura County.

Republican challenger Mitt Romney has offered little detail about what his administration would do differently.

Last October, Mr. Romney told a Nevada newspaper that foreclosures should be allowed to run their course. Nevada’s newly passed law had brought foreclosures to a standstill and significantly dropped housing sales. Many critics claim this is proof of Mr. Romney’s apathy towards struggling borrowers. (Mr. Obama, as a candidate in 2008, argued that heavy-handed intervention, such as an interest-rate freeze and foreclosure moratorium proposed by Hillary Clinton, also risked delaying a market recovery).

Mr. Romney’s campaign website says he would promote foreclosure alternatives for those who can’t afford to stay in their homes. It also says he would roll back a wave of upcoming regulation designed to prevent the abuses of the subprime years, but which the mortgage industry and even some consumer advocates call ill-conceived.

Source:  The Wall Street Journal, Nick Timiraos

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